One of the best things I discovered when I moved to Sheffield was Tramlines. I’d never really heard of it (it was, to be fair, in its infancy then) but now it’s returning, this next weekend for its fifth and biggest year. Last year saw 80,000 turn the city centre into a huge (family) friendly festival, and this year will see hundreds of artists over 70 different venues in the city.
The city’s music venues, bars and clubs all open up for a weekend of bands. Devonshire Green houses the main stage and there’s a new improved secondary stage, known as the New Music Stage. Sheffield DJ Toddla T curates a bigger dance music programme, and there’s a new street theatre area, the Folk Forest, The Peace Gardens World Stage, Buskers Bus, the Western Park party and the Blues and Ale Trail
Previously all this has been free, but this year, for the first time ever, there’s a small charge to get into the venues. And by small, it’s £6 per day or £15 for the whole weekend, which, for what you get in return, is still fantastic value.
So, although it’s an impossible task, here’s ten acts that we’re excited about seeing at this years festival
2:54 – Sisters Colette and Hannah Thurlow may have born in Ireland but they grew up in Bristol, where music was important, and Queens of the Stone age’s debut album was even more important. They make this scuzzy, grungey sort of indie that had critics and fans fawning over their Fiction released self-titled debut. They play Saturday at Stage Two of the 02 academy
Veronica Falls – Londoners Roxanne Clifford, Patrick Doyle and James Hoare met at a Comet Gain show and formed Veronica Falls from the remnants of their old bands, Sexy Kids and Your Twenties. They make this sort of post-xx softly spoken shoegaze that came to the fore in this years fantastic Waiting for something to happen lp. Veronica Falls play the main stage on Sunday
New Young Pony Club – Influential disco electronica duo New Young Pony Club (aka Andy Spence and Tahita Bulmer) burst onto the scene with 2007’s Fantastic Playroom, and followed it up with 2010’s The Optimist. After a two-year break they’re back , with NYPC, an expanded band, and an appearance at Tramlines. New Young Pony Club are over at Stage Two of the O2 Academy
Forgemasters – If there is one iconic electronic music label in the country that represents Sheffield, it’s Warp. And its debut release went down in history as a Trance classic, this tribal, minimal classic ‘Track with no name’ that still sounds as fresh today as it did all those years ago. They’ve not rested on their feted dance music laurels, and are as we (well I) speak (type) they are back in the studio making an album that’s causing much excitement in local and international music circles. They playing Hope Works (1A) on Friday.
Koreless – Glasgow based Koreless, aka Lewis Roberts who makes this sort of bass/dubstep crossover track that has elements of both ambient and sort of this almost krautrock droney sounds. Whatever it is though, it’s exciting and warm and engaging. Koreless is on at the Hope Works on Saturday
Kappa Gama – Nottingham five piece Kappa Gamma describe themselves as from the East Midlands via the middle east and are made up of (and I took this straight from their facebook site, so apologies for the shortened names) Ju, Saf , Aids, Tom and Max. They do play hook laden indie pop in the style of Dog is Dead and are well worth a watch. They play down at Queens Social Club on Sunday
Slow Club – It’s always difficult picking out bands from Sheffield, not wanting to leave any of them out- but literally it seems every band currently active and working in Sheffield is playing, from the Britpop of The Blind Drivers, to the Punk Blues of The Wet Nuns, to Toddla T. So, for the purposes of fairness, we’ve picked just a couple we love. Slow club are, frankly, ace and play this sort of Simon and Garfunkel like harmony laden folk. They’re on at Tramlines on Sunday, but it’s not wholly clear where.
Without Feathers – still in its infancy, Without Feathers are our other Sheffield pick (although to be frank, go see as many of the cities bands as you can) and are made up of some of the talented and great of the city, including Nat Johnson (of Figureheads and Monkey Swallows the Universe) Emma Kupa from the much missed (at least by us) Standard Fare, and solo artist Rory McVicar. Watch this space. Or, even better, check them out on Friday at the City Hall.
Theme Park – It might well sound like a bright and breezy name for a band, because basically that’s what they are. The Londoners, signed to Transgressive records, have made one of the most uplifting, hook laden albums of the last twelve months. Check them out on the Main Stage on Sunday.
The Invisible – Dave Akumu, Tom Herbert and Leo Taylor met years ago and played a part in each other’s careers as session musicians and their own projects. It was only six years ago that they decided to come together and form a band together, which they named The Invisible after some long-winded but very clever thinking by the Irish philosopher John O’Donohue. They make this brilliant sort of prog-electronica that not only earned them a contract with the brilliant Ninja Tune label, but also a Mercury Prize nomination. They’re playing stage 2 at the O2 academy on Saturday.
Lanterns on the lake – From Newcastle, Lanterns on the lake are Hazel Wilde on vocals, guitar, piano, Paul Gregory on guitar, laptop, backing vocals, bassist Andy Scrogham, Ol Ketteringham on drums and glock, with Sarah Kemp providing violin and accordion. They make folk enthused dreamy indie pop of the highest order, and so we strongly suggest that you get down to the City Hall on Friday.
In reality, there really are so many great bands on this weekend that you can’t really go wrong at any of the venues, or wandering around between them. There’s on street food and bars, and loads of things to do for the kids.