Situated just north of the Midlands, Sheffield has produced some fine musicians over the years. The likes of Pulp, Arctic Monkeys and Def Leppard have heralded from the area, so it only seems fitting that here, in the middle of the summer, a mass grouping of hundreds of artists should come together for the largest free music festival in Europe, Tramlines (held this year on 22-24 July).
With a hugely diverse billing, you don’t have to have an eclectic or particularly well educated knowledge of music to find something you’ll love just around the corner, as near enough every bar, pub, club and venue in the centre of the city has had a stage erected or at least allocated space to it for the duration of the weekend. And huge public spaces such as Devonshire Green, the Peace Gardens and the City Square have had fully fledged stages put up for the third year running. Artists of all genres and backgrounds, from Pixie Lott and Olly Murs, all the way through to local heroes Rolo Tomassi and bearded favourite Josh T. Pearson are in attendance, so thousands have flocked to enjoy the musical feast.
Friday afternoon brings a warm day to Yorkshire as the festival gets underway. The warm-up last night has brought Guillemots to the city for their first of three sets this weekend, as well as a host of smaller and local bands raring to impress the city’s increased amount of punters. Beginning my Friday afternoon up at the Harley is Grass House. The band saunter onstage to a minimal crowd who politely turn to pay attention, if little more. Their set hardly electrifies my weekend from the start, but it’s a steady half-hour from a band who appear lost somewhere between Britpop and prog at times
After this, I make my way further out of the centre down to the dull looking building of Bar 27. Once in the door, I’m greeted with shining marble effects and a white lit room with music paraphernalia dotted around and a red carpet (which I’m later told is incredibly slippery) laid out between two speaker towers to form what appears to be a stage. Crewe band Maps of Columbus (photo at left) are preparing to play their only set of the weekend in front of a crowd of trendy bar regulars and those who’ve gambled on the 10-minute walk out of the centre. With a sound not too dissimilar to a large amount of tomorrow’s New Music Stage (Copy Haho, Young Legionnaire, Danananananaykroyd) Maps of Columbus might be one of Tramlines’ criminally overlooked bands, even if the stage banter does make blink-182 look like top quality comedians. Debut single ‘Daisy’ is a standout, especially at 150% speed.
Back into the city and to the first big venue of the weekend. The Leadmill tonight plays host to Twin Atlantic (pictured at top) in one of their biggest shows to date and who, understandably rise to the occasion. Kicking off with album opener ‘Edit Me’, the Scottish group barely look back. It’s the supporting cast tonight I’m interested in however. Tellison, to be precise. The band appear slightly off today, even just having released their album a month ago. That said, they still give glimpses of their brilliance, but from far away, it just seems like the same old story.
I had hoped to see a lot more bands on Friday, but by the time I got back from my trip to where I was staying, many places were simply too crowded to attempt. Hot Club De Paris, Trophy Wife, Islet and a host of other fantastic artists were on show to those lucky enough to get inside though.
Stay tuned for more from Braden on his Tramlines experiences this year.