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Slam Dunk North Review Part 2: Melodic Mayhem And Unforgettable Performances

I was keeping my emotions at bay during most of the day, but seeing some of the bands I’ve been listening to since I was just a kid, was obviously going to make me go through it a little bit. While the emotions I went through were overwhelmingly positive, there were a lot of people getting a different experience.

The alternative world used to be something small and a little exclusive. The recent resurgence of alternative music makes it important the experiences grow along with it, and it’s growing so fast that it’s hard to keep up with the growth. Slam Dunk started as a small inner city festival, and the popularity of it has made it grow until this massive thing in Temple Newsam, but it’s looking like it’s growing faster than they can sometimes deal with properly.

In the end, we need to try to put our grievances about it aside and remember we are all there for the same love. This sometimes gets forgotten, making for tensions along crowds. On the other side are also people sharing good moments with strangers, because at that time, we are all still the same small alternative scene we started out as.

Enter Shikari:

This is the one many have been waiting on. It’s been a couple of years since they visited Slam Dunk (2017). Enter Shikari are one of the bands that always had so much potential, you could tell this even when they just had frat party vibes in stingy small rooms. This band was meant to do arena headliners and the newest record is getting them to the biggest point of their career so far.

The band and audience are both radiating heat, waiting to explode and they do just so. It might not be that small band anymore, but they party just as hard as back then. I needed to come down from feeling a lot of emotions over the last couple hours and this set was absolutely the ultimate ending to a perfect day, complete with fireworks. Everyone saved their last bit of energy for the last bang with the updated version of Sorry, You’re Not A Winner, before we can all head home completely tired yet rejuvenated at the same time.

Escape The Fate:

It’s safe to say Escape The Fate have found their way into what the band is supposed to be and they feel very confident in this.

There’s so much happening on the stage at the same time, and Mabbitt leads us through it as the Mad Hatter, the ringleader showing us what to pay attention to. I came here expecting one band, but came out of Wonderland with an entirely different perspective on it.

The Academy Is…:

One of the worst clashes on the line-up for me was picking between PVRIS and The Academy Is…, and the feeling of nostalgia of the 2000s band lured me in to pick this act. I’ve already written a little bit about the place of women in the scene, so my initial thought about this band was a little (ok, a lot) hypocritical. Let me just get it out of the way: there’s a reason The Academy Is… got listened to, and most of that was because of William Beckett’s inherit charm. He had a firm grip on girls like me in the early 2000s, gaining them a huge fanbase, both online and offline. However, the band hasn’t been together since 2011, if we don’t count the short-lived reunion in 2015, and the Warped Tour days are long over, so I was curious how well it holds up when so much time has passed.

I was kind of hoping to get something new in there as well, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking, because of their statement of being ‘back’. The show is a big celebration of their greatest hits, and new music would maybe not fit as well with this obvious throwback to the glory days… but I’d have loved to see a glimpse of their future in there. I’m very curious to hear what kind of music they’ll end up making, if any, and hear how that fits with their existing records.

Because of their very well-known songs, a lot of people are able to sing along. A lot of newer bands wish they got this kind of pull on a crowd, and they make it look like it all comes very easily. Beckett’s voice sounds very mature and I feel like he can handle much more, which makes it a little silly he’s still singing songs like About A Girl as a grown and greying man. You can tell he’s enjoying being back on the stage after such a long time, as well. What a difference from the kid we were all slightly obsessed with in our MySpace/Tumblr days, that kinda felt like he didn’t want to be there in the past. One thing is for sure though, Beckett really earned his position as emo heartthrob, as he still knows how to charm the crowd as well as he did 15+ years ago.

The Maine:

I’ve been a fan of this band since 2009 when their record Black and White came out, so this was one of the ‘must sees’ on my list for the day. I wrote in an earlier article that they have grown a lot for every record they’ve released, and the same goes for their live shows. I’ve seen this band at least 5 times before and I’ve never been bored for a second during their set, and today was no exception.

The band has been in the studio for the last couple of months, but the record isn’t out yet, so the most recent record they put out is XOXO from 2021 (not counting the newest singles). With them still in the recording process and only starting a tour in July, this show feels like it’s a little ‘in between eras’ show to hold us over until they fully go into the new era.

Considering Loved You A Little features Charlotte Sands, I half hoped to see her come on stage to perform this banger. I was a not disappointed and it definitely was one of the highlights of the festival for me. I just wish I could’ve split myself in two to see the set in it’s entirety, especially next to my friends I’ve spent the last 2 Slam Dunks with (close to me in spirit and in the crowd). When I’m speaking about the love for music, it means spending time with people that share that love with me that makes the experience more than just a silly show. The Maine know and understand this feeling, representing it with their ‘8123 family’ perfectly; this is why I call it home and I never want to leave.


Once more with feeling, because I like hurting apparently. I remember vividly standing in the venue during their ‘last’ Amsterdam show and trying to save that entire night to my memories, specifically seeing myself hug the stranger standing next to me that was also sobbing their eyes out. Since I’m trying to be a professional I can’t go around the photo pit crying my eyes out and hugging the other photographers next to me, I had to keep it together for at least 10 minutes.

When I got up this morning I was still contemplating wearing my 2017 ‘final tour’ shirt, but that honestly would’ve left me a little salty during the day. They put me through that awful hiatus from 2008-2010, but at least that hiatus meant they were going to come back at one point. Naming their last record ‘Yellowcard’ with a last song called ‘Rest In Peace’ made the final tour seem pretty damn final, so I mourned the loss of one of the bands I grew up with accordingly.

This is all to say, I hate that they did that to me, but I’m so incredibly happy to see them again, so as soon as they started, all was forgiven. In the beginning it was looking like it wouldn’t start at all, giving the North flashbacks to the last time they were at Slam Dunk (they were cursed with having technical difficulties it seems). I was a little scared this reunion would taint the memories from before, but in the end it just adds to them. Even with the hugging a stranger in the crowd, happy they are back. My heartbreak is healed a little after this.

Bowling For Soup:

Let me first start this off with the statement that Bowling For Soup was a big part of my formative years, and since the last show they did in The Netherlands was in 2007, I never got to experience them live. Since then, both me and the band have been growing up and growing old, so I hoped to make the teenage me happy by finally seeing them.

The things they were trying to say, were a little lost on the teenager that wasn’t exactly fluent in English. I can now more clearly tell the songs are somewhat parodying the music that was popular back when the songs were released. It’s all in good fun and the show is a blast from the past, but because the songs are so heavy on the pop culture references, the songs didn’t always age well.

Sometimes you just need to let the teenager in you take the wheel, and just love the music with the catchy hooks and funny schticks that take you back to when times were much simpler. It’s not rocket science and the men are more than aware of this. The way they present theirselves lets you know they are in on the joke, which makes this one of the most fun shows to have seen today.

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Christine Mooijer