Festival Preview // Tramlines Festival // Sheffield // 20.07.2012 – 22.07.2012
You can’t get much for free these days, but how does an entire weekend of gigs for absolutely diddly-squat sound? Too good to be true?
Well it’s not, it’s Sheffield’s Tramlines Festival and it returns this weekend for its fourth year running. The biggest and best thing to hit Sheffield’s musical calendar, several outdoor stages around the city centre combine with over 70 venues to present hundreds of acts with almost every genre and taste catered for.
This year Roots Manuva, We Are Scientists, Reverend and The Makers, Mr Scruff, 65daysofstatic and Toddla T Sound headline but the wonderful freeness of it all means it’s easy to wander in and out of band sets, discovering new little gems along the way.
Tramlines is completely ticketless and works on a first-come-first served basis. Consequently the only real drawback is that once at capacity, venues operate on a one-in-one-out basis so check the stage times of the bands you want to see, turn up early and expect to queue. Can’t grumble though – the atmosphere’s fantastic, the music spills out onto the street and the whole city adopts that communal make-friends-with-everyone shared euphoria found in the fields of any music festival.
Whilst rolling around in mud and dodging scary toilets and even scarier burgers has its charms, the beauty of a metropolitan city centre festival like Tramlines is that if it rains you can duck into a venue, stay snug and dry and watch the bands with cold beer in hand safe in the knowledge your favourite jeans and best shoes will still be alive and well tomorrow.
But if you really want to, you can always strip down to your smalls at midnight and run through the 20ft high water fountains in the Peace Gardens...
A few obvious and not so obvious top picks from this year’s stellar line up to pencil into your weekend:
The Bowery - Friday 20th July
Still riding high on a phenomenal flourish of media frenzy, this is one wave of hype you can believe in, even if the band themselves can’t quite. Catch them for free whilst you still can.
Nando’s New Music Stage - Saturday 21st July
Rising from the ashes of now defunct Glaswegian hyperactive rascals Dananananaykroyd , Alarm Bells is John Baillie Jnr’s latest project. Taking a break from slaying the Scottish scene, the band come to Sheffield to assault the New Music Stage with their fizzy, furious, attention-deficit racket.
Bungalows & Bears - Sunday 22nd July
None of them are called Joanna, nor are they particularly gruesome, but Welsh band Joanna Gruesome play bitty, whimsical, teen loveliness. The My Bloody Valentine inspiration is evident with hazy boy/girl vocals buried beneath a thick layer of fuzzy melody and scuzzed-out guitar.
We are Scientists
Main Stage - Sunday 22nd July
With a plethora of shiny happy sing along monsters such as ‘Nobody Move Nobody Get Hurt’ and ‘The Great Escape’, We Are Scientists headline the main stage at Tramlines. Hits aside, they’re worth seeing even if it’s just for the brilliant onstage banter between Keith and Chris.
Frog and Parrot and Sheffield Cathedral - Saturday 21st July
Having released his debut EP last year and starred alongside Broken Social Scene and Bright Eyes, Johnny Marr’s son Nile strums melodic, sensitive tunes with vulnerable and heartfelt lyrics under the moniker Man Made.
For full listings and stage times see the official Tramlines programme available now at various bars and venues around the city centre.