Tramlines was big hit, but still space to improve a bit

Tramlines 2014
Tramlines 2014
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Well, that’s it for Tramlines 2014. And once again, the city was awash with music lovers and musicians.

This year’s line up proved to be more eclectic and daring than previous Tramlines, with Sister Sledge, Katy B, Public Enemy and the Cribs among some of the bigger names on the festival’s bill.

And it was, without a doubt, thriving, as the city was transformed into an aural playground for three days.

But big names aside, it was the smaller, off-the-wall acts that epitomised the spirit of the festival.

Over at the Shakespeare, on Saturday, music lovers scaled ten-feet walls to catch a glimpse of the Sheffield indie rockers Hey Sholay as the band stage-dived into the modest but jam-packed beer garden. “That was the best Tramlines gig I’ve ever been to,” said Dan Dormer from Smiling Ivy, who were also on the bill at the Shakespeare that day. “The atmosphere was unbelievable at the Shakespeare.”

Meanwhile, over at Endcliffe Park’s Folk Forest, music lovers enjoyed a much more sedate aspect of the festival, as the likes of Rachel Sermanni, the Monster Ceilidh Band and Nuala Honan took the stage playing a spectrum of traditional and contemporary folk. Indeed, the contrast between the utterly raucous Shakespeare and the idyllic Folk Forest couldn’t have been more dramatic.

On Sunday, the Shakespeare was once again heaving with atmosphere as Mike Hughes took the stage with a breathtaking set. His voice soared across the crowd as it stomped - collectively - to the Sheffield musician’s alt-blues / country. And such was Hughes’ command that the crowd barely uttered a word during the quieter moments of his set.

Over at the Washington Faerground Accidents belted out a set of dark, grunge-like pop-rock to a crowd eager to catch the fast-rising band. Frontman Bomar Faery - clad in a dress, lipstick and with Barbie yellow hair - was every part the intoxicating showman.

But while the festival, on the whole, was a success, there were hiccups - particularly the capacity limitations of the main venues.

Kevin Smith and Rob Bell travelled from Worksop to attend the festival, Kevin said: “We came into town to absorb the atmosphere but didn’t attempt to get into any gigs in the end. The queues were so long it just didn’t seem worth it.”

For Rob, it was a struggle trying to find a venue with space. “When Tramlines was free, if a venue was full, you couldn’t really complain. But there were times at the weekend when we were moving from venue to venue, trying to find something that had some room. It seemed as though there were a lot more people with wrist bands than there were spaces at the main venues.”

Neil O’Connor, from Nether Edge said: “Tramlines is a great event but if they’re going to attract big names like Public Enemy, they really need to find a bigger venue for the main stage. There was a lot of disappointed people outside Devonshire Green on Saturday.”

But Nicola Freitas, the event’s marketing manager, said: “We did put a release out on social media to say that Devonshire Green would be really busy and that people need to get there early if they want to catch bands like Public Enemy. We wish we could fit more people in but the capacity is what it is and we have to respect that for reasons of health and safety.”

The problem, according to Nicola, is that when people buy a Tramlines ticket, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee access to every venue. “It’s like buying a Glastonbury ticket and wanting to see an act at one of the tents. If you get there late and there’s a 15-deep crowd outside then you won’t be able to get in.”

But on the whole, she said the festival was a success. “We’ve had so many reports from bands saying how much they loved the festival. The Cribs said they want to play more gigs like this.”

Indeed, The Cribs did say that playing Tramlines felt like a home-coming gig, and if that’s not a testament to a friendly festival then what is?

But perhaps, for next year, organisers should consider increasing the access to the event’s main acts.