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  • Matt Codd

Float Along Festival 2023: Sheffield’s Newest and Best Ready to Close Out Festival Season

For many years, Leeds Festival on August bank holiday weekend represented the end of festival season for many in the north of England. In Sheffield and Yorkshire, we are truly spoilt for choice during the summer with the likes of Tramlines, Rock N Roll Circus, Get Together and of course Leeds Festival itself, but since 2022, there has been a new marker to end the festival season.

Float Along Festival debuted as a one-day, multi-venue festival in Sheffield last September, weeks after the traditional end of the season, and it was welcomed with open arms by all. Headlined on The Leadmill’s Main Stage by the excellent Everything Everything and supported across the city by stellar sets from The Magic Gang, Pigs x7, Katy J Pearson and loads more. In our review of the inaugural event, we said "Float Along cements Sheffield’s status as a city of music, with its much-loved independent venues and rich history".

In just under a week’s time, we’ll be treated to the second edition of Sheffield’s most exciting new event, and this year promises to build on last year’s success in every measure. This year, the festival will be headlined by critically acclaimed Irish post-punk outfit The Murder Capital, who will delight with their bruising and rousing set armed with tracks from “the first great guitar album of 2023” Gigi's Recovery, as it was described by NME on review. Much like last year, the festival showcases an array of talent across it’s 3 venues and 6 stages, no two sets will sound the same in this celebration of Sheffield's gig scene and the best independent venues.

With talent from right across the country, and even the world, descending on the Steel City for the party, there are bound to be standouts for everyone. For me, those would have to be Gengahr, a long-standing favourite of mine boasting an extensive list of summer bangers, and 86TVs, a new project comprising of former Maccabees members Felix and Hugo White alongside their brother Will and Stereophonics drummer Jamie Morrison. We will even get a return set from one of last year's favourites, W.H. Lung, one of the most exciting live powerhouses on the circuit.

You can catch allof those bands on The Leadmill Main Stage, but while you’re there you’d be foolish not to nip round the corner to the Steel Stage. Amsterdam-based collective Personal Trainer are one of the standouts of the day representing everything great about indie music and the community around it. They will be joined, amongst others, by Sheffield based quartet Sister Wives bring joyous melodies aplenty in both the English and Welsh language.

If you want to venture away from The Leadmill and truly soak in the multi-venue festival, there are 2 other sites ready to indulge you. At Sidney & Matilda’s two stages you can see the imperious and hotly tipped English Teacher headlining the Basement Stage and indie-folk newcomers Tapir! on the Factory Stage. At Corporation, you can also catch Kraut punk legends Traams and grunge-pop prodigy Viji on their two stages, highlighting the breadth of music on offer.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Sheffield festival without a dedication to showcasing some of the best local talent on the circuit. Alongside the excellent Sister Wives mentioned earlier, BBC Introducing Sheffield have curated a full stage of the best Sheffield has to offer at Sidney & Matilda’s Factory Stage.

Kicking it off is Just The Wolves bringing a dose of atmospheric psychedelia to the offering, with songs that keep you entranced with their twisting and turning nature. Switching it up to follow, will be the self-styled “dark party songs” of Guest Singer, with their heavy dose of new wave glitchy pop, almost reminiscent of LCD Soundsystem or New Order when at its best. After that is the brilliant duo City Parking. Their first EP It’s Mad Round Here is esoteric in the best way with cover art showcasing a moody, stylised photo of West Street Off Licence at night, the band manage to capture the very essence of the city over 5 songs. The project just sounds like Sheffield in the most personal and indescribable way, not one to be missed at all. To wrap the local offering up is the unrivalled Work In TV with their disco infused indie, complete with soaring choruses and driving melodies that will have you hooked instantaneously. They are ones to keep an eye on for us and you will soon see why if you manage to catch them.

The celebration doesn’t stop at live music either by any means. Returning again this year to Sidney & Matilda, Steve Lamacq brings even more stories and recollections from his several decades in the music industry in ‘Going Deaf For A Living’. His visit last year was an "hour filled with warmth and laughter" for us and this year promises more of the same, with a Q&A session to follow. Float Along also recently announced they have teamed up with local icons Triple Point Brewing for a special festival beer, aptly named ‘Floating Point’. The beer will be available at various venues throughout the day and Triple Point will be housing DJ sets from Listen Up Music and Royal Male, furthering the objective of championing of local independents.

It really wouldn’t be a Sheffield festival either without some exceptional local food on offer too. B’Reyt Dough are sure to be popular with their Sheffield pizzas, hot off the back of opening their restaurant in Neepsend. They will be joined by fellow Sheffield favourites, and Triple Point’s food partner, Twisted Burger Company providing some deliciously dirty burgers, right on brand.

Float Along Festival is one that must be experienced in order to fully appreciate. There is no way to cover the extensive list of exceptional artists in one preview. The sheer wealth of talent, and the diversity of that talent is awe-inspiring and so exciting for us to be able to play host to as a city. There is truly something for everyone to get excited about, it is the perfect place to find your next musical obsession. You can get a small taste by listening to the official Float Along playlist here and, luckily, there are still tickets available for the party. So grab yours here and get in and around the city for one last party to see off festival season in style, you know you want to.

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