Tramlines Festival - By Volume

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Tramlines Festival

Sheffield's urban music festival is a swirl of beautiful sound and atmosphere. Author: on July 24, 2012
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The working week disappears into the hum of sound checks and liberated revelers; for one weekend out of every fifty-two, the streets of Sheffield become stages for artists as diverse as Miss Dynamite and Rolo Tomassi. Across the northern-English city centre, the roads, bars and clubs are filled with this year’s Tramlines crowd, dizzy and carefree, wandering between folk songwriters and blasts of post-hardcore, and all for absolutely free.

It’s the kind of event that offsets the art form we call music against “real life”, the same old haunts taking on real life and vigour underneath blazing sunshine and a sense of anything-goes. Indeed, you could spend your whole weekend meandering in exploration of the coziest venues. There’s a folk forest, Cathedral concerts, world music, indoor cauldrons and outdoor buskers. Sprawling the city across 70 locations from Friday evening through to Monday morning, it’s a sight to behold.

Read our review of the weekend below, and catch our interviews with Little Comets and 65daysofstatic:

Risky Heroes

Kicking off proceedings on Friday night, local outfit Risky Heroes sent waves of energy through the Forum to a spirited audience. Their brand of upbeat pop-rock was, in many ways, the ideal way for the festival to begin; from the passionate “It’s Been A While” to stomping closer “Hangman”, the crispest melodies and hooks foreshadowed the weekend to come without as much as a moment’s hesitation.

Johnny Foreigner

After a deserved, if slightly bizarre, main-stage appearance at last year’s festival, 2012 saw Johnny Foreigner back in confined space at the Frog & Parrot as a “secret” headline act. With the bar packed to capacity (and probably a way beyond), the Birmingham indie-noise-whatever-rockers blistered through a set of singalongs, frantic energy and stunning passion. In the corner of a cauldron, with fans jumping left and right less than half a metre away, their

live show was everything we’ve come to expect: heartfelt, raw, and fucking sweaty. And that explosion at the end of “Salt, Peppa and Spinderella” – will that ever get boring?

Cymbals

Cymbals were the previously unheard find of the festival. Playing a tiny way out of the centre in popular gig pub the Harley, they took to the stage and set a gorgeous mood, all electronic ripples and gorgeous beats which had an immersed crowd swaying and bopping from open to close. I caught up with the band outside briefly, and they offered up the vicarious description “the

most emotional dancefloor,” and they weren’t wrong; in this London-based outfit’s set there was enough to toe-tap, but something inside it all that really carried their music off as something more. Sound-wise, they were stellar.

Young Guns

Young Guns are renowned for a quality-sounding live show, and their gig at the Plug didn’t disappoint on any level. Playing to a practically full house in one of Sheffield’s leading gig venues, they riffed and jumped their (and the crowd’s) way through an impassioned and enthralling set. Pits opened up and the room bounced to the assault of guitars for nigh-on 40 minutes. A tiring, but totally brilliant, experience.

Little Comets

As word went round that Saturday’s secret headline was the Newcastle-based trio, the Frog & Parrot filled up, and by the time Little Comets took the stage, there were faces pressed against

the windows behind them. A packed-out venue, then, and one which witnessed an amazing show which somehow felt packed with classics even only one full-length album into this exciting band’s career. “Joanna” still hasn’t left my head, but it was the jolting “Tricolour” which had the watching masses moving at their most energetic. Superb.

The following day, I grabbed an interview with the band before they played their considerably more open-air second set on the main stage. Outside, their music sounds liberated, given space to breathe and lending itself to a summery vibe which was reinforced by blazing heat. They sounded pristine and the crowd’s reaction spoke for itself.

Holland

Holland played a straightforwardly energetic and upbeat rock set midway through Sunday afternoon which was sliced through with incisive guitars and defiantly bold. A powerful but not aggressive indie band with an awful lot of potential.

Field Music

A band I’ll confess I was experiencing in full attention for the very first time, Field Music seemed to me an interesting lineup choice as second headline before a band as anticipated as We Are Scientists, but half-way through their set I decided that it was one of the best calls of the weekend. Their off-kilter, funky sound had an enthralled crowd whispering acclaim mid-song, and it was immensely enjoyable.

65daysofstatic

If some music is all about what you take away from it, about the way it extends past the walls of a city centre, then what blows me away about 65daysofstatic is how it bounced around

those walls and never left. The storm and stress of wailing guitars and momentous drums were an experience worth having again and again. An absolutely fixated audience watched as the band bounced around the stage with such energy and obvious enjoyment to a set spanning their discography, the stomping beats and vortex of noise that closed out Tramlines this year will probably echo ’til the streets open up again next year. I can still hear them, anyway.

Check out our interview with 65daysofstatic here.

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