Here are some words (and a few pictures) about the wonderful Tramlines festival, 2012. Next year I hope to have a better camera lens for this kind of thing.
Forgoing this years Tramlines eve, after last year where I got so heroically drunk that I had to spend the actual festival with a hangover followed by a post-hangover, my official Tramlines started on the Friday after work, drinking dark rum and deciding where to go first. The general consensus was to get nice and liquored up and hit the Bowery where Alt-J (or ∆ if you want to be a some kind of hipster) were playing at 10; turning up pre-drunk to avoid buying drinks at Bowery prices.
I hadn’t been counting though, on Alt-J’s ballooning popularity since I last saw them supporting Tubelord a couple of months ago and we found ourselves unable to get in; so a quick change of plans was needed. We decided to stagger down to the Sheffield Cathedral (mumbling about the “acoustics”) ready to see what was on there, despite being drunk and already in our metaphorical dancing shoes. Not expecting a bar we were pleasantly surprised by an array of (holy?) wines at reasonable prices. Blessed or not, the red gave me a familiar pleasant feeling and I was soon in a typically blathered state (as usual) not really suitable for my surroundings.
Sat there, drinking in both the wine and the wonderful atmosphere, I enjoyed singer/guitarist Robert George Saull and his songs, as well bumping into many familiar faces scattering amongst the pews. Following on from him was the marvelous Oxo Foxo who held me captivated with her ethereal music, which was totally apt for a spooky setting such as a Cathedral at night. She was really wonderful and of all the acts I heard over the weekend she is the person I look forward to hearing again the most.
Music eventually over we were turfed out onto the streets to wonder on home (after being denied entry to Dada due to trainers, “do we look like trouble, we’ve just come from Church”) and to drink more wine at a friends.
Saturday was a day of gently subsiding hangovers and a preparation for hangovers to come. A minor fan of Clock Opera I had hoped to see them on the main stage but this was already rammed by 3-oclock, so this plan was out of the question. Even more worrying to me was just how young everyone looked and how alien they dressed compared to what I was used to. Surely, at 24, I’m not so old that the world has moved on so far already?
Retreating to the safety and warmth of the Folk Forrest I felt more at home amongst the middle classes, hippies and bearded folksters. I joined a few people I knew and dozed casually in the sun enjoying the acoustic pleasantness of Maybe Myrtle Tyrtle and The Big Eyes Family Players. The headliner of today was James Yorkston (who I also saw last year’s End Of The Road) and he was typically magnificent live; a definite highlight of the weekend. After this I was all folked out and headed down to catch a few songs by Roots Manuva (from my balcony next to Devonshire Green) before grabbing a well needed, if a bit defeatist, early night.
With 65DaysOfStatic on the bill, Sunday was by far my most anticipated day and we chose to start it with beer, sunshine and calypso music down at the mini Jazz stage in Leopald Square. After a quick detour to see the enjoyable Beth Jeans Houghton, we secured our place on the New Music stage sitting through a rather generic set by Dog Is Dead. I don’t wish to be too unfair, and they did receive a good reception from the crowd, but to me their music was as plain and prosaic as the chicken sandwiches served by stage sponsor Nando’s. Realising fast that it wasn’t my thing, I sneaked off into a corner with my book and spent the next 40 minutes, antisocial, reading Lolita and with a pint of Tramlines Ale.
Next up was the ever enjoyable Rolo Tomassi dragging me immediately to my feet. Despite the fact this was there 3rd year curating/playing the stage there were still plenty of shocked faces all around; from revelers that didn’t quite expect Eva Spence’s hardcore scream. For all the fun to be had, and there was plenty, I must admit I did miss the giant mosh pit of the previous year, circling unexpected between the doors of City Hall and John Lewis. As the sun began to drop, and I realised the back of my neck was burnt to a crisp, it was time for the main event; and 65daysofstatic did not disappoint. Their noisy math-i-ness was turned up super loud and the only real complaint of the set was that (at 60 minutes) it all felt a bit short.
After the gig I sneaked down to the Riverside Pub for a pint and a honey whiskey, where I listened to the Mother Folkers from the outside (as it was impossible to get in) and let the sun go fully down on another Tramlines festival.
Let’s hope it is back again next year.
(Surely it is?)