There was a plethora of exciting bands on display during Tramlines on the Saturday. Although the weather wasn’t quite as good as on the previous day the streets of Sheffield were still packed with people and the venues enjoyed a healthy turnout to each gig.
The O2 Academy had a great line-up of emerging talent which began with Menace Beach. Comprising of members of Sky Larkin, Hookworm and You Animals they have plenty of experience and talent which makes them such an exciting prospect. They began in their usual bright heavy style with plenty of distortion. Their moody rumbling bass, grunge guitars and the crashing of the cymbals combined with vocals, which range from relaxed the screeching impassioned choruses, conjure up memories of The Dandy Warhols and Smashing Pumpkins.
Menace Beach we directly followed by PINS who all arrived on stage howling and yelping like wolves. Each member of the band had an effortlessly cool demeanor. At times the vocals were reminiscent of PJ Harvey and Sonic Youth as the punk and grunge influenced guitars riffed over relaxed but forceful bass, resembling a thunderstorm. During ‘Luvu4lyf’, when three members of the band were performing vocal parts at once, it was comparable to a pagan chant drawing the audience in and hypnotizing them. Faith was mesmeric as she jigged about on stage completely lost in the moment. Based on this set I would have quite happily proposed to either one of them.
It was then off to the beautiful setting of Sheffield City Hall to see I Like Trains. As they began their set was accompanied by screens at the side of the stage which, to begin with, were transmitting moody, artistic, grey images of industrial cities. These images perfectly complimented David Martin’s deep, moving, and haunting vocals and the prominent tribal drum beats. I Like Trains are grand wizards of song structure, each track grips you as it builds through masterful instrumentation and a deep knowledge of what captivates an audience, ‘Mnemosyne’ being a prime example. Every element of each song is gripping and capable of elevating your mood. As the set progressed into gradually more uplifting songs from their repertoire the screens became colour images of happier scenes such as retro holiday videos. Upon leaving this gig I was certain that I had just witnessed the highlight of the festival, but as impressive and engaging as their set was 65daysofstatic were just about to take that accolade.
Anyone who knows anything about 65daysofstatic and their love of, and relationship with, Tramlines knew that it was guaranteed to be something special. It was more of an art installation than a gig with the band playing under a big screen and surround sound speakers lining the edges of the room in Millennium Galleries. As the slow build up of feedback and resonance started the screens projected aerial shots of industrial ports and blank moorland. As the bass built up and became more prominent the images began to distort and the music went up a gear. This was already impressive but as the screen went black it became clear that this was only the introduction to the piece and it was yet to begin in full. After a few seconds of black and silence a truly beautiful and moving piano section began accompanied by tranquil images of nature. As the music built up again the images changed to 70’s style 64bit computer generated images before moving on to recordings of NYPD police brutality, war and protests as the music became euphoric. Every time you thought that points in the music must have been the height of the euphoria it was then surpassed by the following sequence until a key change which was hugely satisfactory. The whole installation, which they had entitled ‘Sleepwalk City’, brought a huge smile to your face and took you out of yourself evoking a whole range of emotions. It was undoubtedly the highlight of the weekend and a thoroughly impressive and thought provoking half an hour.