Sheffield Tramlines Festival
Sunday 22 Jul 2012
Tramlines is a free festival taking over a vast proportion of Sheffield city centre. This year there are 2 outdoor stages & many pubs and clubs hosting stages too. There’s established acts and a whole host of smaller acts playing all day long. I decide to take in the Sunday this year.
I arrive early afternoon & head over to the main stage on Devonshire Green to meet friends and get there just in time to catch Eugene McGuinness. I’ve managed to escape his music so far, but know the name and am quite surprised that I actually quite like his polite pop, as do the few thousand people that have turned out early to see him and his band. He seems to go down quite well, but not exactly enthusiastically.
Next up we drop into the Frog & Parrot (it used to have 2 giant parrots and 3 large frogs in it many years ago, but I doubt the smoky pub atmosphere did them any good) and catch The Ridgeways who make a fine old school pop / punk noise with a twangy Shadows guitar sound. Their bass player appears to be one of the other band members sons. I like them, one to look out for.
Over on the New Bands Stage dreamy Geordies Lets Buy Happiness are about to start. They’re a 5 piece with sweet female vocals a little reminiscent of Bjork over the top of shoegazeque guitars, and are one of the reasons I’m here today, and they don’t disappoint, they deliver a well received set to the largely roasting seated crowd of around 1200 or so.
Gigs in churches seem to be the new rock and roll, so we have a look at Mark Morriss playing solo in The Cathedral. I hear him play a Shins song and a couple of Bluetones numbers. He is well received by a standing room only crowd, though not my sort of thing. He later plays a set on a bus, as do Lets Buy Happiness.
By now there’s a half hour queue to get into the main stage due to overzealous searching by security. Even so I still manage to get 4 cans of cider part them! I’m in just in time to see Field Music play their spiky pop to a confused audience of youngsters. After 25 minutes or so the bloke next to me finally gets it and says, “they’re actually quite good aren’t they?”Â. By the end of the set they’ve won people over, but I’m more used to seeing them in a club rather than the baking teatime sunshine, good stuff though.
Back to the New Bands Stage I’m just time to see headliners 65daysofstatic. It’s been too long since I’ve seen them, and their post rock soundscapes sound great. It’s a big homecoming show for them and they get the very busy crowd moshing. Most of the security seem bemused by what they’re hearing until the band get everyone to crouch down, then quickly jump up in the air. Then half of the security are now fans! The electronics sound crystal clear, indeed every stage we saw had great sound. 65days play hard and fast for an hour before walking off leaving the audience wanting more. One of the band then decides to dive into the Barkers Pool Fountain and start doing the breast stroke!
We take a chance on The Frog & Parrot again and witness the delights of Doncaster’s GiRL SPiT. Check them out and they will become your favourite new band. They play fast short sharp punk rock and are fronted by an absolute mental lad with bright pink hair, who amuses himself (and us) by accosting members of the audience by singing to them, stealing their beer, throwing their hats away, hugging them, and following them out into the street, all the time whilst playing. They are fantastic, you need to see this band to believe it, most entertaining!
Finally at about 1130. Barnsley’s Exit Calm (one of the other reasons I’m here) hit the stage upstairs in Shakespears. It’s still hot and their soaring guitar anthems, largely made up of songs from their soon to be released second album, get the crowd moving. Indeed they’ve never sounded better, the new songs fitting in great with older songs like the bass driven “Hearts & Minds”Â. They’re a great way to end a days good live music.
It’s certainly a festival to have a look at next year, you might discover some new gems like we did, and it’s free!
Words Alex Staszko, Pictures Katie McGuinness (no relation)