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  • Emma Doyle

Slam Dunk Festival is back and bigger than ever as it returns to Temple Newsam Park in 2021

At last, we have entered the yearly interval in which entry-level emos and seasoned scene kids are once again free to celebrate our perceivably outdated tastes in a field far away from baseline workplace embarrassment.

“But Download has already piloted once this year!” I hear you say. Well, yes. That much is correct. But owing to its unprecedented success during the test-run for a P.C. (post-Covid) society, the proverbial door has well and truly been booted off its hinges in order for the UK’s favourite festivals to make a comeback.

Slam Dunk, veteran of the pop-punk frontier, is no exception to the rule. Founded in Leeds in 2006, we are in the fortunate to find ourselves making a trip to its stomping ground next month to celebrate the almost-fifteenth anniversary.

Having had to postpone their yearly gathering at least twice over the past eighteen months, the Slam Dunk team have had to deal with more than your average share of frustrations. With many of the acts on the original line-up being US-based, the incidental tightening, loosening, and tightening again of restrictions has meant that, quicker than you can say “Biden”, a host of stateside favourites have pulled in and out of the gig like a sort of geopolitical Hokey-Cokey. All hope is far from lost, however. All corners of the UK are represented by bands such as Sheffield’s Malevolence, Merseyside’s LOATHE, Glaswegian noisemakers Vukovi and already-established headliners Don Broco, hailing from… Bedford? In any case, the home counties boys have seen no dilution to their soaring acclaim, with their astronomically popular last album Technology (2019) and singles ‘Manchester Super Reds No.1 fan’, ‘One True Prince’ and ‘Gumshield’ warming up the masses nicely ahead of the day.

But fret not, a handful of our transatlantic cousins have decided to brave the journey over to God’s own country and bulk out the program with some muscle. Punk heavyweights NOFX and Stray from The Path are to take to the stage, as well as those whose more dubious reputations proceed them; Escape the Fate and 1990s poster children Alkaline Trio. Although I can’t deny the latter their titanic stage presence from what I can recall of their 2000 Trees show back in 2015, we can make a collective effort to believe that guitarist and sometime-frontman of Blink 182, Matt Skiba, will leave the MAGA hat at home so that we can avoid a fisticuffs-at-dawn scenario, and all depart as friends.

By all accounts and previous testimonies, Slam Dunk should prove to be a weekend filled with some longshot contemporary favourites, textbook nostalgia and, dependent on the price of the bar, future regrets and a see-you-next-Tuesday hangover. We'll meet you in the field, pint in hand.

Sound like something you’d be kicking yourself to miss? Tickets for Slam Dunk North and South (Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th September) can be bought here. You can check out our Slam Dunk 2021 playlist below to get yourself ready for the festival.

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