Story Of The Year – Leeds University

By Spud

This is Spud’s review of Slam Dunk 2008 – for Paul’s review of the same event go HERE

For some reason I was very optimistic at the start of today, as Mr Savage will tell you. Despite the air being whipped around your head at 100mph, there was something in it which told me this would be Quite Good?.

ALL FORGOTTEN got us out of the blocks with their rollercoaster-like vocals and offered up a sort of FFAF/latter day LP-lite sound which seemed to warm up the audience as they trickled into Leeds University’s canteen. (6)

A canteen which, as many will testify, has famously offered some shit sound to many a gig over the last few years. Whilst these early acts on the UK Now stage suffered from it a little, it did improve as things progressed, and thankfully it didn’t seem to affect the other stages at all.

After that I slinked off to the Non Stop stage to catch RANDOM HAND. Unfortunately, the venue is tucked away out at the back of the Union building and, by this point in the day at least, people had clearly struggled to find it. Not that it bothered these stalwarts of the UK scene as they were enjoyed by their small group of fans. Excellent crowdsurfing by frontman Robin to reach the roof, too. (6)

Back to the UK Now stage for Punktastic’s ME VS HERO. There was pretty much a universal agreement that they were fighting a losing battle with the sound for a large part of their set, but the last 1/2 didn’t seem to be quite as affected. A shame as the smelling crowd of PT forumers down the front were clearly doing their best to lap it up. (5)

I’m a little more discerning in my pop-punk tastes than I might have been 3/4 years ago, but I still find time for VALENCIA. Despite the singer clearly having a hangover of which Oliver Reed would be proud and a voice to rival Frankie Stubbs, this is an impressive display of their visually mercurial talents which culminates in their guitarist almost sailing out to sea after launching himself at the crowd. Tight, keen and clearly enjoying themselves immensely. ( 8)

By this point it’s getting on for tea time and so I head for a pasty – lamb and mint, for the three of you that are interested. Bloody lovely.

After bumping into a few people and doing a couple of interviews, I miss some of YOU ME AT 6, but see enough to convince me that events the size of Slam Dunk is where this band have an ability to command their audience really well. At Give It A Name they were a bit isolated and suffered slightly. But this is becoming a home from home. But, as Paul said, it’s vital they get that album out there as soon as possible. (7)

ATTACK ATTACK are not a band I’ve seen before, but I’ll be looking out for them in the future. Flawlessly delivered vocals and a competent but reserved instrumental backing are unfortunately witnessed by one of the day’s smallest crowds for the UK Now stage. But those who were there will surely agree they were the lucky few. Very promising. ( 8)

I only came into contact with KIDS IN GLASS HOUSES through their recent radio-fueled popularity explosion, and so only recognise the final song, but the crowd reaction these guys got was phenomenal. The entire front half of the Refectory was bouncing and singing back every word – something which not even Fall Out Boy managed there. Despite missing the boat slightly with these, it’s very clear on this evidence that they’re shooting up very fast, and I have to say the performance was a notch above competent. ( 8)

I’m not quite sure what’s happened to FURTHEST DRIVE HOME but they’re easily the worst band I saw today. The sound had improved on this stage by now, but that clearly wasn’t of much use. The odd thing was that they had a large crowd, but barely any of them seemed into it. They seemed nervous, despite surely not having any reason to be, and it clearly filtered into their visual performance, and the musical one was certainly nothing to shout about. (4)

At this point my stomach reminded me that just sampling the available pasties was a poor effort and directed my wallet towards the jumbo sausage rolls.

After that, I’m not too sure where the time went, as I found myself getting ready for STORY OF THE YEAR – the draw of the day for me. And they certainly delivered on my hopes of an uncomprisingly raw and energetic set. A few too many of their slow songs were included for my liking, but new songs like ‘Choose Your Fate’ threatened to rip Stylus a new one and for the the majority of their set you hardly move such was the number of people who decided to end their day with them. They could have played for another half an hour and I doubt there’d have been many complaints. Very enjoyable. ( 8)

So, a few surprises overall, but the vast majority were very pleasant. I’m not quite sure that the movement between venues was what was aimed for, with traffic jams a slight problem for popular acts, but this was a day with vastly more positives than negatives and undoubtedly the best of the three Slam Dunks so far.