Slam Dunk Festival // Leeds

At the tail end of May I travelled down to Leeds for DIY Magazine to shoot my first festival, Slam Dunk North. If you've never heard of Slam Dunk Festival it's a 1-day event/festival that travels to three different cities across England, Slam Dunk North (Leeds), Slam Dunk Midlands (Birmingham) and Slam Dunk South (Hatfield). They all have the same lineup so it happens across the May weekend travelling to each location.

This year Slam Dunk was headlined by Panic! At The Disco with a whole host of artists across 6(?) stages. The way that Leeds is setup is the main stage takes over the main square in the city so it's an outdoor show with the other stages in carparks, bars, clubs etc. It's definitely up there as one of my favourite festivals to visit and I can't wait to head back next year.

Anyway enough about the festival... more about me!

I was shooting the first day of the festival which happened on the Saturday and being as nervous/excited as I was to shoot my first festival I barely slept a wink on the Friday. I travelled from Glasgow to Leeds by train before wandering around the city trying to find my AirBnB spot because I couldn't read a map and took a really bad wrong turn! After finally finding the place I dropped my stuff and headed straight to the media area to prep. Having no idea what I was doing when I turned up it was pretty daunting but I just followed some signs and found myself standing in the interview room... After sorting my pass out and dropping some gear off I decided to walk the perimeter, reading the map and getting a feel for the festival itself before stopping off at Wetherspoons pub for a quick pint and bite to eat.

After shooting a couple of bands I found out that I was allowed into the VIP bar area which was actually another Wetherspoons pub in the centre of the "arena" overlooking the main stage, a pretty prime location to sit in the sun with a cheap pint and catch the bands. This area became my main spot for going in-between shows to reload memory cards/transfer photos while I waited for the next band. As the day progressed more and more of the artists gathered in this area as well as bands who weren't even playing the festival and had come down to have fun and relax. I started to recognise quite a few tour photographers/videographers that I look up to, as I recognised bands/artists/fellow togs the nerves crept up... I couldn't believe I was in this position, it was so cool! At one point I had quite a bit of time in-between bands I thought "Fuck it" and decided to say hello to some people, it was here where I first met Jay Wennington and Ian Coulson, two photographers/videographers who I was constantly admiring. I had previously met Ian briefly in Glasgow at a show but it was great to sit down with a beer and chat to them both in a more chilled scenario. I also managed to speak with Mayday Parade lead singer, Derek Sanders, and a guy who I have listened to since I was an early teenager... The Rocket Summer aka Bryce Avery. I managed to catch his acoustic set in a tiny pub earlier in the evening where he smashed it and afterwards I spoke to him in the VIP bar area where he was the soundest guy to meet. I have been listening to The Rocket Summer since around 2006 but I had never managed to catch a show so that was quite something being able to stand there and chat to him.

Overall the day was pretty incredible not just the photographing but the people I met and spoke to that I looked up to, it certainly wouldn't be a day I'd forget in a hurry. After shooting Panic! I popped back to the apartment to drop of my gear get a quick closet change and run back to catch the end of the set before heading to the Afterparty. That was great fun but I didn't last long as I was absolutely shattered so it was a couple of drinks then straight to bed.

First Festival = SUCCESS!

You can find a selection of shots from different artists I caught across the day below: 

Moose Blood

Young Guns

Hit The Lights

Yellowcard

Four Year Strong

New Found Glory

The Rocket Summer (Acoustic - Bryce Avery)

Panic At The Disco