Festivals are finally back! This weekend saw the return of what we all love most as both Latitude and Tramlines Festival took place without any form of social distancing. So many festivals have had to be cancelled this summer yet one of the first and few lucky events that have been able to go ahead is possibly the best city city based festival there is, Tramlines in Sheffield. I had the pleasure of heading down for Saturday's - here's our highlights from the day!
As is normal across a weekend festival, the crowds really started to gather around the 6 O'clock mark as fans rolled in for the likes of Blossoms and Little Simz. However, I think we all know that these people are missing out. One of the best things about festival season is that you can spend ALL day wandering muddy fields, half-drunk listening to the best emerging talent from across the country. So I wasn't missing a second! The first big highlight of the day for me has to be Lauran Hibberd. Bouncing onto stage with her pastel pink princess dress, jumping and kicking the air, she kick started the spirit of the day. Her and her band looked absolutely buzzing to be there and their music reflected that. High-octane Summer Indie vibes mixed with her trademark tongue and cheek sing-a-long lyrics landed perfectly for a crowd that had been missing festivals for months. Her main stage slot didn't stop her from talking one on one to crowd members throughout her set which built a fantastic report between the band and the audience. 'How Am I Still Alive', one of her most recent singles, feels like the kind of track that needs to be played at a high-school pool party on MTV and got everyone indulging in some grungy care free tones as they started to have their first little dances of the day. More and more poured in from the festival gates straight the main stage as they saw the uplifting excitement that Lauran was giving the crowd.
The next early highlight went down at the more intimate Library stage with Abbie Ozard. She carries a similar vibe to Lauran yet with a slightly more delicate and introspective sound which complimented the slightly smaller setting. A mixture of hardcore fans and total newcomers joined the front rows as Abbie's set progressively built and built in confidence and swagger. Her smooth understated vocals offer an honest charm, and when put over the hugely infectious dreamy melodies it creates an almost hypnotic Indie pop feel. 'True Romance' off her latest EP 'let's play pretend' has to be the high point of the set with even those who had never heard of her beginning to sway along and realise what a talent they had discovered. I even spoke to two guys next to me who had done exactly that and in the short half hour set had fallen in love with her vocal delivery and by the closing track were dancing wildly and scrambling with their words trying to sing a long to tracks they had never heard. That's what a festival is all about!
One of the best festival moments is the gaps in your schedule when you wander aimlessly looking for the least criminally priced food and then suddenly find yourself sucked into the noise emerging from a back corner tent. This time round it was Indie-punk four-piece Talk Show that grabbed my attention. Playing at The Leadmill stage, designed for promoting new talent, I noticed how packed the tent was as I walked past. The closer I got, the more I could understand why.
A fierce and bold vocal delivery was matched by a surprisingly funky instrumental backing as I stumbled in on their debut single 'Fast and Loud'. The stage was spitting with angst as the tent provided the perfect setting for the fast sounds to bounce off the walls and leave the room swirling with a Punk infused energy. The crowd certainly were feeling this energy as the central melee granted me my first mosh pit of the day and left me wanting to hear a lot more from the Londoners.
It seems a bit of an easy choice to pick the headline act as my favourite of the day but after their electrifying set there was no one else I could go for. It was clear that there was probably an even split at the Saturday festival between those most looking forward to Indie giants Blossoms and those who most wanted to see Royal Blood. However, even though Blossoms put in an exceptional return to live music, showcasing how many hits they have produced over the three albums, Royal Blood showed their worth for the headline slot!
I don't think I've ever seen a live set that was so relentless from start to finish. With drummer Ben Thatcher seated on an appropriately extravagant raised platform in the centre of the stage and Mike Kerr prowling around him with a punchy Rock arrogance, they delivered a non-stop barrage of mosh-worthy anthems. Opening with the newly released stomper 'Typhoons', it was clear from the off what kind of mood both them and the crowd were in. From this moment, the energy never dropped and rarely gave any pit goer a moment to breathe.
One of the first things I thought when I eventually got a second to think was how well their new album was standing up against their fan favourite debut. The likes of 'Trouble Coming', 'Boilermaker', 'Oblivion' and 'Limbo' had both the grandiosity to fill a main stage and the sweaty energy to play your local underground venue. Yet, the task of closing the night fell to the single that saw their debut record soar into the mainstream, 'Figure It Out'. It was possibly one of the best finales I've witnessed and left the grounds of Hillsborough park long after the final note.
To dominate the stage with just two members as they did is a feat that cannot be understated. Ben's drumming was primal yet deceptively intricate, creating a pounding dense cacophony for Mike to work with as he really grew into his front man role with huge Rockstar stances and relentless gritty guitar tones. One of the best festival performances I have seen gave one of my favourite festivals an apt close. The crowd was one that could only have been that wild after the months of lockdown we have had. However, someone still needed to ignite that fire and Royal Blood took that job into their own hands, creating a sonic firework display that left even the most true Royal Blood fans walking away in awe.
Were you at Tramlines?? Comment on our Instagram and tell us who your favourite act was!