Friday And so the musical juggernaut of Tramlines slipped into first gear! The hotspots of the festival, down in the heart of the city on Division Street and surrounding streets didn’t waste any time in getting packed out to the gills. After seeing the queues snaking outside a few of the most popular haunts, my instincts told me to head to familiar territory, which was slightly off the beaten track. Before long I’d found a perch at The Cremorne pub, on London Road, in time to catch the suitably-named The Yell (already I was in the deep end of the noise spectrum).
Saturday The sun put his hat on – and the crowds (estimated 80,000) came out in their droves too. First stop I made was at the World Stage, set up in the natural amphitheatre of the Peace Gardens. After catching some bhangra (sorry didn’t catch the act’s name), I wandered off to the New Music Stage to check out the laid-back, pop-centric Cuckoo Clocks. As with most festivals, some of the scheduled programme didn’t happen, as day slowly turned to night. Not that this dampened anyone’s spirits. Sheffield was buzzing in its own special way, as we hopped onto the Busker Line Bus (my favourite aspect to the festival – a free bus stopping at strategic points on the festival map, with live acoustic sets from various Tramlines acts curated by Sheffield-based band the Bromheads), to hear Scrim, before whizzing back to the New Music Stage to see Twilight Sad, Blood Red Shoes, and finishing the day’s antics at Penelopes club to catch one of my favourite local acts Little Glitches.
Sunday Day three and as is traditional on a Sunday, there was a distinctly relaxed, fuzzy vibe permeating through town. But scratch the surface and there they were – plenty of others like me who were keen to keep the party going! I loved the Busker Line bus so much I made sure I had another taste on my way to see the once-seen, never-forgotten Ukulele band Everly Pregnant Brothers, who were playing one of the city’s hotspot watering holes for real ale lovers, the Fat Cat pub. My gig on wheels performing at this space in time came courtesy of Simon of Alvarez Kings, who played a beautifully forlorn-tainted number, ‘Funeral Reunion.’ I’m proud to say I managed to film this entire song, complete with pot-hole induced wobbly cam (my first go on video on my new iphone 4). Check it out! http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=417056075799
As for the Everly Pregnant Brothers, you’ve probably not heard of them if you don’t call Sheffield home, but in the Steel City they’ve drummed up quite a following. An electic crew (members include Toby Foster, BBC Radio Sheffield presenter & artist Pete McKee), they take pop classics and give them a warmly comical Sheffield-inspired twist. Hence, Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman, No Cry’ becomes ‘No Oven, No Pie’ singalong. Take my word for it – it’s a special feeling singing ‘Where’s me gravy?’ en masse, in a heaving, sunny beer garden. Smiling faces all around and not a dry glass in the house.
Finishing up, back to the main throng, I ended up rushing to catch 65daysofstatic, but due to a fire alarm evacaution, it turned out to be the big gig of the festival that never was.
Back home, what else was there to do but catch up on all the rock ‘n’ roll stories filtering through fast and loud on Facebook and Twitter? Well, Tramlines had been billed as Europe’s biggest free urban music festival or ‘urban Glastonbury’ so it seemed a fitting way to end my brilliant weekend.
Big thumbs up to the festival organisers who really did themeselves – and Sheffield – proud. Here’s to Tramlines 2011!