The 15th edition of Sheffield's Tramlines Festival saw 40,000 revellers a day attended this year’s sold-out edition. Headline performances from heritage acts Courteeners, Richard Ashcroft and Paul Heaton as well as a secret set from McFly will steal a lot of the press attention. However, we'd like to focus in on some of the most exciting new acts further down the bill that stole the show. So, here's our top three Tramlines 2023 highlights.
The highlight of our Friday and our biggest surprise package of the weekend has to be DEADLETTER. We're huge fans of their songs on record, with tunes such as 'Madge's Declaration' and 'Binge' combining astute social and political lyricism with gritty Rock grooves and an infectious rebellious spirit. Taking influence from bands such as Gang Of Four they now fall between somewhere between Shame and Yard Act, laying their claim to a stake of the Post-Punk resurgence. However, this was our first chance to see them live in the flesh and boy did they deliver! Instantly striking was frontman Zac Lawrence's on-stage antics. Often staring out the crowd like a man possessed his frantic, Ian Curtis esc body movements added an apt visual accompaniment for the band's jittery, angular sounds.
The best moments came in songs that were relatively tense and groove-driven in the verses, allowing Zac to deliver his angsty sentiments while slowly building the energy of the crowd before it reached boiling point in the chorus. The highlight of the set was 'Fit For Work' that did just that and resulted in huge bouncing chorus' that surely woke up anyone in the crowd and got them ready for the first night of festival fun. There was just enough time for Zac to squeeze in a quick crowdsurf as the band concluded proceedings with a ferocious instrumental crescendo.
Red Rum Club
Scouse Desert Pop collective Red Rum Club have made a name for themselves over recent years for their appealingly immersive and high-energy live shows and are perhaps the most flavoursome band in the Indie scene right now. They combine Indie Rock riffs and catchy melodies with commanding vocal performances and their trademark flair of the trumpet to make music that would feel equally at home in mariachi band or a Spaghetti western as it would in a dingy Indie club or indeed, a summer festival.
After working their way up the smaller stages year on year, 2023 was finally time for the sextet to take to the main stage as they found a brief break in the rain to deliver a sunny performance filled with carefree joy. Summery singalongs to tracks like ‘Would You Rather Be Lonely’ and ‘Eleanor’ were balanced with moments of Rock swagger in songs like ‘Vanilla’ to produce a performance that is both tremendously cool yet not overly serious. The perfect way to kick off our hungover Saturday.
Liverpool's rowdiest newcomers on the block, STONE, have gone from strength to strength in the past few months, releasing anthem after anthem. Their brazen Punk attitude and in-your-face Rock sound is hard to ignore but more than anything, it feels purpose built for the live environment so what better way to sample it than at a buzzing summer festival.
Their set was as rowdy as we'd hoped for with huge moshpits opened from the first few seconds. 'Money (Hope Ain't Gone)' produced the most athemic moment of the set with the pre-chorus chant providing the perfect moment for the packed out T'Other Stage tent to scream their faces off before barreling into a huge chorus to bring that moshpit crashing together. The set was peppered with poignant on-stage proclamations from frontman Fin Power about social injustice and the distribution of wealth, themes at the heart of the STONE project, yet the lasting impact has to be the undeniably rousing Punk spirit and swirling Rock sounds of their performance. The tent was left ringing as we left, t-shirts sweaty and coats and jumpers just about in tact as we'd had to hold onto them for dear life in the pit! One of the best live bands out there at the moment!
Another fantastic year of one of our favourite festivals perfect for unforgettable main-stage singalongs and new music discoveries alike.
Tramlines Festival Operations Director Timm Cleasby said, “"We’d like to say a massive thank you to the people of Sheffield, the City Council and especially the residents around Hillsborough Park for having us once again this year. Tramlines has grown into an incredible celebration of local, national and international music and culture and we’re delighted to play our part.