Tramlines Fringe Was A Joyful Re-Union

Tramlines Fringe Was A Joyful Re-Union

It was a demonstration of community...

Popping up to fill the void left by Tramlines’ move out of town and away from local business, Tramlines Fringe is the antidote for the local scene. Usually filling the city centre with music, complete with bands in chip shops and DJ sets in barbers as local venues burst at the seams, this year’s affair was one joyful reunion, a last minute scraping together of Sheffield’s vibrant music scene.

I’ll admit though, I was a bit nervous. As one of the first full capacity events to make a glorious return, the idea of ordering at a bar and feeling my body involuntarily sway along with a crowd filled me with nervous excitement as I sketched out my plans on my notes app. Running from venue to venue and downing a pint per set is all part of the fun, so drawing out maps and lining your stomach is a must.

All fully unticketed, the free events allow you to splash more cash in the cities local venues, a thought that helps soothe your Sunday hangover and pushes you onward as your bank account screams support for your favourite independents. And by the first sip, the nerves slipped away as I seemed to remember exactly what to do as Sheffield’s punk staple Black Mamba Fever drew the whole pub into The Washington’s dancefloor for the first time in a year. Full of tongue in cheek humour screamed over a raucous backing, their frontman Louis looks like he hasn’t taken a day off, falling straight back into his stage antics.

Followed up by the city’s psych darlings Femur, it seems like the whole crowd reaches that nice stage of drunkenness where music feels like hypnosis and we all remember how to dance at once.

- - -

- - -

As Tramlines rambles on a couple of miles away, the city centre buzzes with the Fringe’s unique energy. Where local talent is king, the fringe makes space for acts that are left out of the festival’s line ups, opting for classic festival staples like The Kooks and Supergrass to appeal to outsider audiences while the city centre seems to celebrate Sheffield stronger than ever during those three days. Proving the power of the independent, bands like Oh Papa pack out venues and almost seem taken back by their own appeal as Shakespeare’s attic room stretches out onto the stairs. Someone’s brought a homemade fan sign, everyone seems to know the words, and I can’t help wonder why anyone would flock to the field when the city can be this good.

Obviously the atmosphere of a festival is great, but there’s something different at true community festivals. For a brief weekend, music is everywhere. Standing in a beer garden, you can hear echoes from all around the town as different genres of fans rush out to their respective places to form their own little cults. Every local shop, restaurant and café transforms into a stage, all recognising the musicians and talent that surrounds them every day, herald their staff’s bands as godly.

Always friendly in nature, Sheffield doubles down on it during Tramlines weekend, reclaiming the event as their own in the city and finding their own way to bring it back to home-grown greatness. Sure, The Streets might be down the road, but inside Black Mamba Fever grace the cover of local magazines, and the ringing in my ears suggests Blackwaters got just as loud of a cheer as Blossoms will have.

- - -

- - -

Enjoying a sandwich soundtracked by some spoken word on Sunday morning as I waited to see moody anthemic rockers Dead Slow Hoot in the basement of an art space, I feel a rush of love for the city. Streamlining all the joy of live music that’s been missing for a year into one weekend, Tramlines Fringe seemed like a jolt of electricity to bring the whole scene back to life, like a miracle treatment every city could use.

Free from the confined of ticket sales and marketing, Sheffield’s fringe events truly centre upcoming talent as the towns venues create an eclectic line-up to celebrate its own variety. From Saintes’ Jim Morrison-esque crooning to Rosey PM’s own brand of sweet semi-jokey R&B, Sheffield’s relatively small surface area seems to have something in the water, full of untapped potential that even its own major festival doesn’t seem to see.

Only showing a small portion of what the city has to offer, Tramlines only sprinkles its line-up with a handful of local talent like singer-songwriter Teah Lewis and indie pop band Sophie And The Giants, despite there being enough local legends to fill a whole stage for the weekend easily. Having moved out of the city, Sheffield’s staples on the scene are forced to choose between big names or sticking around down to support their friends, leaving Hillsborough void of the people that make the music circuit in the city so strong as the energy in town packs a punch with all-day dancing and crowds that truly support upcoming acts.

Struggling under the weight of the ultimate Sunday scaries as the last drinks are finished and voices crack under the pressure of final cheers, I told anyone who would listen that I wished every weekend was Tramlines weekend. Fighting through the post festival blues, I simply go on my phone and buy a ticket for Dead Slow Hoot, Teah Lewis and Nancy Dawkins in a couple of weeks, with the Sheffield scene never needing a big tent or some food trucks to roll into town for a show. Still there with new songs and the same excitement from the crowd of gig goers, the best thing about a community festival is that it never really ends, you just head out to The Washington again the next weekend.

- - -

- - -

Words: Lucy Harbron // @LucyHarbron

- - -

Follow Clash

Buy Clash Magazine