Tramlines festival is Sheffield’s biggest musical event as every venue opens its doors to emerging bands and big headline acts, inviting Yorkshire out for a chaotic weekend of music, drink, and dancing. From fringe events to artists taking on the main stage, the entire city erupts in music, celebrating the best the industry has to offer and uniting Sheffield in what we love most. Check out the bands we saw last weekend:
K.O.G and the Zongo Brigade – Main Stage
Rapid-fire lyrics and a quick beat got everyone excited to begin Tramlines 2016 with a bang. The crowds began small on this Friday evening but soon grew as the city came alive to celebrate Sheffield’s biggest weekend of the year. There was at least 10 people filling the stage as K.O.G. invited the Tramlines crowd to get to their feet and dance in the sunlight. The set was full of fun that thrived on audience participation; “Shall we do some dancing, Sheffield?!” It was a welcome start to the weekend.
Four Authors – Crystal Stage
There’s not many bands who can convince me to see them at noon on a Saturday but Four Authors won me over in seconds as they filled the Crystal Stage with fierce energy and strong vocals. The boys played through many songs from their recently released debut album, beginning with ‘Monster’ before going on to an explosive cover of ‘Uptown Funk’. Only 2 songs into the set and bassist Liam Linley walked across the bar, thoroughly enjoying himself as he heckled the crowd at the back of the room before returning to the stage. Four Authors played a brand new song, titled ‘Fire, Fire’, which might just be my favourite song from the boys, and I sincerely hope they release it as a single soon. Their live performance is unparalleled, and it’s a crime that Four Authors are still a relatively unknown band – it shouldn’t be long before they play on bigger stages.
Revolver 50 Project – O2 Academy
One of the most unique and brilliant things to come out of Tramlines this year was the Revolver 50 Project, featuring some of Sheffield’s greatest musicians, uniting in a single performance of The Beatles’ Revolver album. Local greats, including members of Hey Sholay and Screaming Maldini, as well as Sheffield’s best strings players, whistled through iconic Beatles tracks, washing the O2 Academy in a warm glow as we all sang along to an album that’s older than most of us. ‘Yellow Submarine’ obviously earned the most enthusiasm, as the audience laughed and clapped along to its familiar beat, whilst ‘She Said She Said’ lent itself to beautifully strong vocals from Gina Walters. The short tracks were interrupted as each song required a different orchestra, but it worked beautifully as Sheffield showcased the talents of its best people.
The Crookes – O2 Academy
Once upon a time I would’ve told you that The Crookes were my favourite band. That was a couple of years ago now, and other bands have since stolen my heart, but it was nice to go back to that first band who ignited my interest in the live music industry and watch them in a warm glow of nostalgia. The boys began with ‘Where Did Our Love Go?’, playing through their back catalogue to the biggest reception I’ve ever seen. Clothes were thrown on stage and mosh pits opened up as Sheffield went wild for their local heroes; “There’s no place like Tramlines!” lead singer George Waite claimed, with the biggest grin on his face. He’s right, too, as The Crookes have played here every year to bigger and bigger crowds, earning themselves a place in Sheffield’s triumphant music heritage.
October Drift – Crystal Stage
Anticipation was high for October Drift, playing at the Crystal Stage of Tramlines this year. There was chaos at every turn as guitarist Dan ran across the bar and into the crowds and lead singer Kieran stood upon the amps on stage, looking down at the crowd falling apart at his feet. This wasn’t a gig for the faint-hearted, as half of Sheffield crammed into the small space to see a band that everyone and no one seems to know anything about. October Drift let their songs speak for them, so do yourself a favour and listen.
Eliza and the Bear – O2 Academy
Eliza and the Bear succeeded in winning over the Tramlines crowd, both in their excellent performance and then again when we met them afterwards to catch Pokemon after their set. They woke up Sheffield with ‘Light It Up’, a song full of hope when you feel like life isn’t going your way, uniting us all in a triumphant singalong that filled the O2 Academy. Eliza and the Bear could easily headline this festival, bringing people together in euphoric pop music that needs an audience to sing the words back and dance like their hearts are breaking. You feel like you’re having the time of your life at an Eliza and the Bear gig, and this time was no different as the boys played through the biggest songs from their self-titled debut album.
Silver Wilson – The Harley
Anxiety gripped me as I approached the Harley on Sunday afternoon as, more often than not, bands struggle though impossible sound difficulties at this venue and end up playing just half an acoustic set. Silver Wilson weren’t so fearful, however, as they effortlessly played through their set of warm, summery tunes, surprising the local Sheffield crowd with their talent. “We played Sheffield not so long ago… a support slot at the O2 Academy. This crowd is better,” guitarist Elliot Labbate confidently announced, as members of the Harley danced freely to Silver Wilson’s delicately optimistic melodies, soaked in summer vibes as the room got hotter and hotter. These guys will surprise you with their professional nature, especially so early on in their career, but it won’t be long before these chaps are playing to bigger crowds at bigger festivals.
Catfish and the Bottlemen – Main Stage
The most anticipated headliner this year, played SOYO 3 years ago and the Frog & Parrot a year before that, Catfish & The Bottlemen have lept into the limelight. It’s hardly a surprise, as these guys have impressed the world with their latest album, The Ride, reaching number 1 in the UK and earning them fans across the planet. Their shows are constantly sold-out, despite playing at bigger and bigger venues, so seeing the main stage of Tramlines full of excited fans was to be expected. The bigger surprise was the number of blow-up alligators floating across the crowd, a symbol of Catfish’s latest album, and the flares going off at every song. Rain couldn’t dampen spirits as many saw their favourite band for the first time; the heavens opened and soaked us through as ‘Soundcheck’ began, and it didn’t stop for at least half the set. Everyone got reckless as smoke flares turned into fireworks, embracing the nature of Catfish’s lyrics. Lead singer Van McCann sincerely dedicated songs to everyone who had bought the band’s albums and helped them achieve so much in so little time. It proved a magnificent finale to Sheffield’s biggest festival, and the weekend ended on a high.