Even though the weather was atrocious, and trips between venues resulted in becoming soaked to the bone, spirits were certainly not dampened as Sheffield city centre was bustling with people eagerly anticipating the return of Outlines Festival. This year’s festival boasted an impressive line-up and it was a refreshing and positive move to see that Friday’s acts provided a majority of entirely female acts. Outlines handpicked the four venues in Sheffield with the most credible reputations, Queens Social Club, The Harley, Plug and The Leadmill, which meant that the acoustics and atmosphere were fantastic in each location. The only downside was that they are a decent walk apart, so if you fancied catching a gig that started shortly after the one you were at finished then you stood little to no chance of getting there for the start.
My experience began with the wonderfully talented Living Body at The Harley. Even though half of their members weren’t able to attend they still managed to impress. Jeff’s Bright Eyes style vocals and Alice’s delicate voice were mesmeric separately, they also provided some chilling harmonies. Living Body provided a metaphorical warm embrace as people came in out of the downpour.
It was then a brisk walk to Plug to catch the beginning of a set from Barnsley boys Alvarez Kings. This was the first time I had seen them in such a big venue and they definitely seemed to be well accustomed to it. The main room at Plug was packed and the audience were revelling in these local boys done good. Alvarez Kings took the opportunity to showcase some of their new material and if the few cuts they chose to play are anything to go by they have produced the kind of quality which will regularly see them playing venues of this size in years to come.
I then headed into Plug’s second room to check out a one of the festivals many bands which are receiving a great deal of hype, Babe Punch. Each track comprises of light moments leading into explosions of rapid, heavy, riffs and lung busting angst from lead singer Molly Godber. As a collective Babe Punch seem shy, uncomfortable with the attention and timid in the breaks between tracks. When they are trashing out their music they are the polar opposite of this, confident, assertive, domineering and boisterous. They finished a rampaging and invigorating set with their latest single “Control”.
An injection of energy from the high intensity finish that Babe Punch provided fired me up ready to brave the elements for the journey up to The Harley for one of the highlights of the day’s agenda, Post War Glamour Girls. The ever-progressive darlings of the Leeds scene treated us to a sneak preview of their forthcoming album Swan Songs by playing a set that comprised of tracks from that album and only one previously released song. As we have come to expect from Post War Glamour Girls the new material bears no resemblance to either of the previous pieces. They showed yet again that they are constantly evolving and always prepared to push themselves. New single “Organ Donor” and “Chipper” stood out in a set of an incredibly high standard. They closed the set with “Sestra” from their debut album Pink Fur, a treat for everyone in the crowd who has follow them from the beginning of their career.
The Harley was already full for Post War Glamour Girls but it was well and truly packed when The Wytches arrived on stage. Their set was a delicate balance of new and old material which worked the crowd up into an early frenzy. There was plenty of crowd surfing from the offset, probably through sheer elation but possibly just as an attempt to find some space in the room. The sheer energy being emitted from the stage transferred to the crowd as The Wytches hammered out their unique brand of psychedelic grunge rock.
Outlines is incredibly well organised and their line-up was perfectly arranged. I enjoyed how they picked artist that appealed to music lovers rather than festival goers. In few years’ time Outlines will no longer be Tramlines younger sibling but on equal footing.
All pictures courtesy of Outlines Festival.