Review: Tramlines 2016 (Dizzee Rascal, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Hinds, The Japanese House, + more)

With most metropolitan music festivals, you often have the difficult decision of choosing between inevitable stage clashes and weighing up the walk from one music venue to another. Tramlines hardly differs from this, however, with an ever growing  impressive line up at the festivals main stage and a series of fringe events in the heart of the city, the annual event certainly tries to make it easier.

Friday night welcomed hip-hop marvel Dizzee Rascal, who embraced that Friday feeling and sent the crowd before him bouncing into the weekend. Dizzee has never been one to take himself too seriously and at Tramlines he showed that Tongue N’ Cheek attitude. At times his set may have seemed more of a novelty but nevertheless it entertained. ‘Fix Up, Look Sharp’ showed off Dizzee’s old school rapping at its finest and grimiest, whilst the long awaited ‘Bonkers’ sent waves through the park as the reverb, pyro, and confetti added new levels of showmanship to the man’s performance.

Saturday morning in the city is always a sight to behold. For those that had partied into the night at Toddla T’s annual Tramlines set at the O2 Academy or for those who had seen the sun rise after Tank’s warehouse session, lounging in the sun seemed to be the trend for the day. Sticking to the fringe events on Saturday, it was October Drift that electrified one of the larger audiences at Crystal’s stage. Selling out some of the best small venues across the UK, Kiran Roy and co have built a live reputation that speaks for itself and is well circulated up north. Since their appearance in 2015, the mysterious cloud created by their choice to elude social media is now beginning to clear, however the live performances that have created a stir for so long don’t seem to have suffered. From the offset, October Drift were bursting with energy, bringing a new level of stage presence to Crystal’s sun stricken room. Climbing amps and jumping onto the clubs bar the intimate setting was made even more personal. ‘Losing My Touch’ from EP ‘Stranger Days’ is a euphoric burst of scuzzy guitar riffs and elated backing vocals that are brought to life through an on stage energy that never lets up.

Having just arrived in Sheffield travelling from Finland and missing equipment due to some airline difficulties, things weren’t going Hinds way. Laughing on stage and trying to make the best of a bad situation, the Tramlines crowd well and truly lifted the atmosphere. The upbeat melodies of ‘Bamboo’ still carried its usual umph, and to say the quarter were suffering from jetlag, they certainly gave it their all.

From the Frog and Parrot to headlining the main stage, no band has so quickly risen through the ranks at Tramlines than Catfish and the Bottlemen. Following the release of ‘The Ride’ follow up to debut album ‘The Balcony’, The Bottlemen’s chart success and live reputation have grown rapidly. Walking on stage to a sea of fans and inflatable crocodiles Van McCann appeared through the mist of smoke bombs and kicked off their set in a typically energetic style. As the heavens opened the atmosphere never let up, from ‘Soundcheck’ to debut hit ‘Kathleen’ the energy of the crowd before them never ceased to amaze. Tramlines welcomed the Bottlemen’s return as though it were a long awaited hometown performance, at they certainly relished the moment.

Winding down from Catfish and a hectic weekend, Bungalows and Bears provided the stage for a perfect close to Tramlines weekend. Cramming into the small and sweaty venue The Japanese House quickly cut through the bustling pub and captured the attention of everyone. The blissfully calm vocals of Amber Bain and the long strung out melodies and simmering drum beats The Japanese House lay claim to captivated all before them. The steady clicks of ‘Still’ and harmonious singing echoed around the venue as heads bobbed back and forth and the reverberating synth sounds shook the sticky floor.

For most of us, the end of The Japanese House’s set meant the end of Tramlines. This year’s festival certainly lived up to its predecessors however for me it was the fringe events that really stole the limelight and pulled us away from the main stage. The abundance of local bands and upcoming acts spread across the bill left you spoilt for choice and who knows this time next year some of those may even be making their way up to Ponderosa. Tramlines, see you next year.


Follow updates from Tramlines Festival here.

Review by Jacob Flannery |

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