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  • Matt Codd and Sophie Walker

Downpours, Dancing, and a Damn Good Time: What we got up to at Tramlines’ 15th edition


Tramlines 2023 + CFaruolo

Sheffield’s annual party in the park has come and gone for another successful year. A weekend of live music, proper food and good times was rudely interrupted by biblical rainfall, a whole month’s worth in two days, but what’s a bit of rain to us Sheffielders?


Now that we’ve had time to dry off and digest, here’s our roundup of our favourite weekend.


FRIDAY


The pick of the days for us heading into the festival, both in terms of the weather and lineup, and it certainly lived up to expectations. We told you in our showcase of the local artists on offer, that our weekend would most likely begin with Sheffield pop-punk outfit Jetski, and they turned out to be the perfect energiser to kick things off. A proper showcase of the bangers they have already crafted that is sure to have earned them more deserved fans, these guys are set for huge things in the next year, having just announced a huge show at The Leadmill.


We had a small break in our schedule after that, so we just had to check out the festival’s newest addition, Little Hillsborough. If you were lucky enough to get there early doors, you were greeted with an offer of free Hendo’s crisps from the Henderson’s Relish stand, an offer we gleefully accepted, along with purchasing a Henderson’s branded bucket hat. It wasn't just Hendo's though, Hillsborough favourites Annie Jude’s were there selling their collection of clothing, jewellery, art prints, and the genius idea of light up wristbands perfect for festivals. Luke Horton Art was also there with his signature art prints, mats and what turned out to be some extremely useful ‘Chuffin Weather’ ponchos.


While down that end, we made the most of the local ales on offer at Tramlines Tap with a couple of pints of Pale Rider from Kelham Island Brewery and Tramlines’ new charity ale, brewed in partnership with Brewdog, the Aye’PA (with 50p from each sale going to the Tramlines Trust).


We then caught the start of Floodhounds on the Library Stage, another of our highlighted local acts heading in. Their stomping brand of indie rock continues to impress, they’re ones to watch for a long time to come and I guarantee we'll see them on the bigger stages for future Tramlines', they wouldn't look out of place at all.


We had to sprint from there across the park to make sure we caught festival favourites Circa Waves. The Liverpool band have been in the game a while now and they still never fail to put on a party. A ready-made festival band who somehow always have a knack for making the sun come out no matter what, just in time for the massive “T-Shirt Weather” to close their set.


Tramlines 2023 + LMelbourne

Luckily, we didn’t have far to go for our next watch, with Sea Girls following on Sarah Nulty’s Main Stage. Now we will 100% admit bias here, Sea Girls have been one of our favourite bands for the past 6 or 7 years, but with good reason. Their infectious melodies, screamable choruses and incredible stage presence guarantees an awesome time every time, the whole field was bouncing… Not to mention that they love playing in Sheffield, just ask them yourself. They are future headliners for sure.


One of the biggest choices of the weekend was next, stick to the Main Stage for Aussie rockers DMAs or twist and head to T’Other for the first time this weekend for Pale Waves… We decided to do both. DMAs produced maybe the most emotional beats of the weekend with the incredibly moving Delete and their huge cover of Cher’s Believe, and after a quick jaunt over to T’Other we saw the catchy hooks and enchanting choruses from Manchester quartet Pale Waves in full flow. The band have cultivated a huge following since bursting onto the scene in 2017 under the tutelage of Matty Healy and George Daniel of The 1975. Three hugely different albums later and they packed their hour long set with punches for a celebration of love in all forms.


Tramlines 2023 + LMelbourne

A return to the beloved Leadmill stage was next on the cards to catch headline act The K’s. This northwest indie band have been making waves for a fair few years now and came with an energy that we rarely saw matched for the rest of the weekend. They were on fire and the tent was buzzing, a must-see if you are ever presented with the opportunity, a worthy match for any headliner across the weekend.


But then it was time for the main event. In the run-up to the festival, we had seen many comments on social media channels lamenting the fact that Bloc Party and Richard Ashcroft would clash, but for us it was a no-brainer. Bloc Party are one of the forefathers to the incredible crop of guitar bands that the UK continually produce, coming out of that mid-2000s indie revival, they are an all-time great for us and many others. Hot off their stint supporting global megastars Paramore, who count Bloc Party as a huge influence on their sound, this headline slot happened to fall on the same day as the release of their exceptional new EP. Kele and the band made sure to treat us to the perfect blend of old and new, frantic post-punk and touching love songs, all blending into a showcase of every inch of Bloc Party’s brilliance. T’Other tent was raucous, if there was a kinetic dancefloor in there for that set it could have powered the whole rest of the festival. We're not sure that in 15 years of the festival, there have been many better sets. Words can hardly do justice just how life affirming a set like that is… And there were still 2 days left!


Tramlines 2023 + CFaruolo

SATURDAY


The start of day 2 was delayed by 30 mins due to the rain overnight, just a little taste of the ridiculousness that lay ahead. We started our day with the hip-hop afrofusion of Sheffield’s own Franz Von. Usually, the party doesn't start on Saturday’s Main Stage until Everly Pregnant Brothers take to it, but Franz took on the role with aplomb, and a choir to boot. A true star in the making, we're buzzing to see what's next.


Tramlines 2023 + LMelbourne

Next up for us was Irish fourpiece modernlove., one of the most refreshing bands on the whole lineup. The band proclaimed that the gig was their first time ever in Sheffield, but we hope it isn’t the last. The boys from Drogheda have a huge future with their effervescent and electric indie pop. They are diverse and dedicated, with 3 EPs worth of magic already, and showing no signs of slowing down either. It was just a shame how short their set was, limiting punter’s opportunity to see how awesome they are. Well, that and the fact they were on just before possibly the most anticipated set of the weekend.


Tramlines 2023 + CFaruolo

In what turned out to be the worst kept secret of the year, it was revealed that the mysterious and non-existent Scottish Flys were in fact pop rock legends McFly. Their 45-minute set was a joyous throwback and a definite highlight for most, we even got a legendary Bruce Springsteen cover. We were all left in awe as they rattled off hit after hit from their near 20 year career, barely stopping for breath, and we all had an indelible smile for the rest of the day.


Our second scouse act of the weekend was a short but extremely muddy walk over to T’Other Stage, in exciting post-punk outfit STONE. Just a little different offering to the set we'd just left, a sweaty, bruising 45 minutes later and we were left both stunned and exhausted. The tent was electric, thanks in no small part to the energy present on stage, with lead singer Fin’s crowd surfing, although that seemed quite tame considering some of the other places that he seems to find himself.


Back over on the Main Stage after we’d recovered were Stockport’s best in Blossoms. Blossoms are now a band that would not look out of place in the headline slot at a festival like this at this point of their careers. Four albums in and a defined style and sound, they are definitely a crowd pleaser. Charlemagne has been established as a must love for any indie rock fan over recent years, but the rest of the set was as glittering and danceable as ever – the perfect distraction from the rain that had truly started pouring.


In contrast to Friday, for the headline slot on Saturday we stuck it out at the Main Stage for Courteeners. One of the biggest bands in the country for a while now, they definitely did not look out of place here, it was their second time doing it after all. The Manchester favourites are currently celebrating 15 years of their acclaimed debut St. Jude, and it was perfectly shown why here. The number of bangers on that album still boggles the mind, but "Not Nineteen Forever" is always a standout for everyone, a true MOMENT. In later records, they have found a balance between these moments with more thoughtful tunes like The 17th and Modern Love, it was an expansive set and well worth braving the conditions for.


Tramlines 2023 + CFaruolo

SUNDAY


It’s no secret that Sunday was a washout for a lot of people. The downpours refused to halt overnight and resulted in over an hours delay to opening, allowing for essential site works. This resulted in a lot of brilliant acts regrettably having to pull the plug on their set. Even then, the rain was committed in its attempt to ruin the fun, but to no avail as Sunday played host to the most nostalgic of lineups.


First stop on the nostalgia journey and completing the trifecta of scouse bands we saw over the weekend were The Zutons. The rockers wrote one of the biggest songs of the 2000s with "Valerie", famously re-recorded and covered by Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse, it's a song that everybody knows and loves, a guaranteed good time and the perfect start to the last day.


Tramlines 2023 + Lindsay Melbourne

From there, it was an eager wait down front for Sugababes as the pop icons’ set was moved from T’Other Stage to the Main Stage. They absolutely deserved the Main Stage slot, putting on a show that was just as life affirming as Bloc Party’s. It was miserable on site, but you could tell that everyone was buzzing to see Sugababes in the run up to their set. And what an act to grace Sarah Nulty’s Main Stage, a group that soundtracked many of our teenage years. The trio was the original lineup, and it was clear their bond is as strong as ever, rattling off hit after hit with veteran skill, and not to mention the choreography too! Did anyone else cry from happiness, or was it just our Editor, Sophie?


We tried our best to brave it out in the open for Sheffield legends Reverend and the Makers, but the torrential rain blew us over to T’Other Stage for Black Honey, not a bad result in the slightest. Another act that was affected by the scheduling changes but not adversely, the crowd under the tent was huge, many sheltering from the downpour but many there to get a taste of the empowering indie rock on offer. "Corrine" has been a favourite of mine for a long time now and seeing it live was as majestic as I imagined. Another festival mainstay destined for huge things, seeing them live in this setting only confirmed it.


Tramlines 2023 + CFaruolo

We decided the dryness offered by the tent was too good to leave, and it just so happens that the nostalgia tour would carry on there with the iconic Professor Green. Another artist on the bill that soundtracked our teenage years, it was an instant mood-booster away from the rain. The energy was infectious as he came out firing with hits like "I Need You Tonight" and "Just Be Good To Green" immediately, the shock we were in was hidden by the joy on our faces! Unfortunately, our day had to stop after those tunes as the rain was proving too great a barrier for us, a moat had begun to form around T’Other Stage’s tent... We did dance through it though, obviously.


We were bouncing on our way to the gates after Professor Green, but the day couldn’t end before we’d caught a bit of Kaiser Chiefs. The Yorkshire legends are another band that thrived in that indie revival of the mid-2000s alongside many of their contemporaries. With a long line of bangers ready to reel off, the drenched crowd that braved it out were loving every second.


Tramlines 2023 + LMelbourne

And just like that, our weekend at Tramlines was over. We were gutted we couldn’t catch Sheffield icon Paul Heaton, but we didn’t fancy swimming home to be honest. The walk and wait for the tram was soundtracked by Kaiser Chiefs as we buzzed about what we’d just experienced! Yet again Tramlines had married nostalgia with the new perfectly with a lineup that had something for everyone, and everything for us.


Whilst the weather ruined the fun for some, at times it added to the experience for us. It brought people together more so than in the sun, it felt. Tramlines absolutely smashed it regardless, and the much needed work to restore the park back to its glory is already planned and will commence soon.


This isn't the end of our Tramlines 2023 reviews, with a food and drink review coming shortly.


Tickets are already on sale for next year’s event running 26 - 28th July 2024, with early bird tickets already being sold out. You can get your tickets here.


Let’s just hope for a bit of a drier one though, eh Sheff?



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