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Tomorrow, music-hungry fans from far and wide will descend on Sheffield city centre for the annual Tramlines Festival to gorge themselves on the three day auditory feast. This year’s incarnation runs from Friday July 24th to Sunday July 26th, taking over more than thirty venues across the city.

The massively eclectic lineup spans a multitude of genres, and this diversity can be seen immediately when looking at several of the more well-known acts on the bill, which include punk legends The Buzzcocks, hip hop royalty with Wu-Tang Clan, Madchester lads The Charlatans as well as Basement Jaxx, Billy Bragg, Martha Reeves and Sugar Hill Gang.

The festival selection panel take great care to ensure Tramlines offer not only an eclectic range of music styles, but also maintain a balance on the bill between established artists and those still looking to make their mark. Tramlines runs an ‘apply to play’ scheme for bands/artists to be part of the festival proper, and 14 acts have come through that process and will be showcasing themselves at this year’s event. This further illustrates the eclectic nature of the music on offer as it features everything from the soaring vocals of singer songwriter Beth Frisby to the crunching guitars of alt rockers North Prism and Inherit the Stars. Add in the cello infused hip hop stylings of The Ceiling Demons, the jangly indie rock of Liberty Ship and jazz pop fusionistas Bang Bang Romeo and you have a perfect microcosm of what Tramlines is all about (in my humble opinion of course).

So beyond the ‘headliners’ and the ‘apply to play’ acts, what else does Tramlines offer? Well a ridiculous amount of choice, actually. For those of the alt-rock, punk and metal persuasions (like myself), your schedule should include sets from We Are Ocean, math rockers Rolo Tomassi, post hardcore quintet Story, garage rock duo Slaves, London rockers Zoax, the fantastically odd Ezra Furman and 90’s influenced all female indie-fuzzpunk duo Honeyblood. All have well earned reputations as outstanding live bands and are sure not to disappoint.

Considering my earlier admission about where my musical preferences lie, I am not going to claim to be an expert on electronic music, hip hop or soul, but Tramlines has an insane level of variety across these and many other genres. DJ sets go well into the early mornings starting on both Friday and Saturday nights, and even I can pull out sets from Roni Size, Craig Charles and Mike Skinner as highlights. Hip hop and soul are represented by big names like the aforementioned Wu Tang Clan and Sugar Hill Gang, but also fellow hip hop pioneers West Side Mob and ‘Sheffield’s own ‘Godfather of drum and bass’ Daddy Freddy. Add in Neneh Cherry, 2011 mercury prize winner Ghostpoet and Youngman (aka Simon Smith, son of Drum and Bass legend Simon ‘Bassline’ Smith) and you have a seriously awesome arsenal of music to choose from.

Tramlines isn’t really the type of festival that follows any particular hierarchy. Yes, words like ‘headliners’ are still used, and yes some venues are larger than others, but the beauty of Tramlines, and other festivals like it (SxSW in Austin and The Great Escape in Brighton to name two) is its ability to delightfully surprise at any given turn. If you are able to embrace this, and build your festival plan (personally my favourite activity besides actually attending the festival) accordingly, you will reap the rewards of just going with the flow.

If I can offer one piece of advice, it is this; have multiple backup options. If the venue at your first choice gig is full and queuing isn’t an option, don’t see this as a disappointment. Instead think of it as an opportunity to experience something new! Often the unplanned gigs in unexpected venues turn out to be the most memorable, and that is exactly what makes Tramlines such a unique festival experience.

Tramlines runs across multiple venues in Sheffield’s city centre from Friday July 24th to Sunday July 26th.

Day and weekend tickets still available HERE

Words by Steven Farkas

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