Live Review: Tramlines Festival

From electro to indie to hip-hop, Sheffield shows off its varied wares in an excellent free festival. Various Venues, Sheffield, Friday, July 24 – Sunday, July 26

DQ line-up delivering the beaty goods with DJ Zinc, Oneman, Martelo and T himself, and Club Pony on Saturday; the University hosts a hip-hop barbecue featuring legendary UK MC Rodney P and Kid Acne; there’s drum’n’bass, dubstep, jazz, metal… the list goes on. And on.

Of course, there’s plenty of indie too. Local noisemakers Rolo Tomassi impress at Corporation on Friday night, despite a few technical issues and singer Eva Spence forgetting her inhaler. The Chapman Family tear up The Harley on Saturday evening, and even provoke a trouserless one-man stage invasion during the set’s noisy climax. Johnny Foreigner at The Stockroom is another hot ticket, with fans cramming into the tiny venue to witness the Birmingham trio deliver songs from new record ‘Grace And The Bigger Picture’ in typically energetic fashion.

They’re supported by local quartet Rotary Ten, back on the scene after a nine-month live hiatus. They’ve replaced their jangly guitar-pop with a new set of twinkly, reverb-drenched soundscapes – and it suits. Another pleasant surprise is Mairead, an 18-year-old singer-songwriter in the PJ Harvey mode of bluesy angst. Backed only by a bass player and drummer, she thrills the Frog & Parrot pub with a set of snarling pop – frighteningly, it’s only their second gig together. She’s watched by Tramlines’ third curator, Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders (the pair share a manager), whose own night at DQ sees The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster incite a near riot with their malevolent rock’n’roll. Singer Guy McKnight spends as much time crowdsurfing or inciting others to do the same as he does bawling into the mic, much to the venue security’s chagrin.

It might not have been perfect – Arctic Monkeys didn’t play, The La’s and The Rascals pulled out at the last minute – but Tramlines is exactly the sort of event a city like Sheffield deserves. As they say in these parts, a reight good ’un.

Stuart Grant