Archive for July, 2011

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Once named as #2 in Q magazine’s 50 bands to see before you die, Ash are definitely pick of the bands in this weekend’s festivities. The Northern Isish outfit, often written off, can claim to be one of the most influential rock bands of the 90’s/early 00’s. The grunge-punk influenced trio have amassed 12 top 20 singles from 6 studio albums during a career that will span 2 decades next year. Classic hits like Shining Light, the other-worldly Girl From Mars and Burn Baby Burn are sure to ignite Main Stage, Devonshire Green late on Sunday evening.

Friday’s attention has been drawn to Heaven 17 who are set to make a splashing live return down at Barkers Pool. Sheffield’s renowned three piece are best known for their contributions to the 80’s synth-pop movement alongside The Human League, ABC and Culture Club. Best known for that single Temptation, the band have inspired the likes of La Roux with their synthesiser and drum machine effects. This rare outing is not be missed. Those with a soft spot for the synthetic sound are directed on Saturday to the University of Sheffield’s Foundry where up-and-coming modern stylists Starlings will grace the stage.

The Dance Village based at the University of Sheffield’s Octagon building is set for a show off with the New Music Stage, Barkers Pool for Saturday’s audience. The architecturally-unique University building will host the once-famous Ms Dynamite followed by multi-talented BBC Radio 1 DJ, mixer, producer and collaborator Toddla T. In contrast, the paved setting of the New Music Stage is set for more chaotic scenes (a la Gallows, 2010 – watch below) when wild Glaswegians Dananananaykroyd play on a bill that includes multi-instrumentalists Los Campesinos!

Those seeking more archetypal scratchy indie guitars may be persuaded to make the pilgrimage over to the O2 Academy where local heroes Alvarez Kings will showcase their brand of ‘regressive pop’. Nearby at Leadmill are ex-Milburner Joe Carnall’s popular outfit The Book Club, looking to emulate their equally thrilling and sweaty success of last year at The Grapes. Reggae enthusiasts looking for a more chilled environment – head to the World Stage, Peace Gardens to witness Michael Prophet and his much-admired, soulful vocals.

Photograph: Robin Byles

Following a year’s meticulous planning and eager anticipation, the city of Sheffield is poised once more to host the Tramlines Festival 2011. Over 3 (hopefully scorchio) summer days, Tramlines 2011 will witness a staggering 200+ bands performing LIVE across 70 stages. The FREE music festival conceived in 2009 aims to “showcase the amazing, diverse music” that the Steel City has to offer. This year Tramlines expects to haul a record 175,000 people into the city. Come and join in the celebrations!

When’s it kicking off? Thursday 21st (although officially) Friday 22nd – Sunday 24th July.

Where’s the buzz? Main Stage located on Devonshire Green… Multiple destinations along Division Street… Corporation, The Shakespeare, O2 Academy, Leadmill, The Harley, University of Sheffield and many more pubs, bars, nooks, crannies, pavement…

Who’s playing? Guillemots kick off proceedings with a cheeky set on Thursday evening at Leadmill… The Futureheads… Los Campesinos!… Dananananaykroyd… Toddla T… Ms Dynamite… Ash close the Main Stage on Sunday.

What’s new? This year’s event will be sponsored by Nokia… The University of Sheffield will become the Dance Village… The 2010 inaugural Blues & Ale Trail running from Shalesmoor, Kelham Island to the University Arms now has a Main Stage… Heeley City Farm will showcase a new folk/community event on the fringes of the city with beer tents, stalls and more…

What types of music? Everything… Reggae, blues, folk, rock, indie, pop, r&b, jazz, rap, dance…

Just popular bands? No… local talent, unsigned acts, acoustic sets, buskers… Tramlines truly has something for everyone.

Water-absorbant tents, clodhopper wellies, obscure flags and mudbaths galore. Yes, the summer festival season is in full swing and the crappy British weather cannot even begin to dampen our enthusiasm. Glastonbury’s Pyramid has already enchanted and T in the Park was again served in true alfresco style. Here are some festival highlights so far:

Chase & Status – Blind Faith………… (West Holts, Glastonbury; King Tuts, T)

The Strokes – New York City Cops………. (NME Stage, T)

Friendly Fires – Kiss of Life (Other Stage, Glastonbury; NME Stage, T)

The Vaccines – If You Wanna………… (John Peel & Other Stage, Glastonbury; King Tuts, T)

Queens of the Stone Age – No One Knows……….. (Other Stage, Glastonbury)

Mumford & Sons – The Cave……….. (Other Stage, Glasonbury)

Tom Jones – It’s Not Unusual………… (Main Stage, T)

A kilt-clad Tinie Tempah stole the plaudits at a rainy yet fabulous T in the Park 2011. On what looked a windswept day, Tinie endeared himself to the Scottish faithful by donning the nation’s most famous garment mid-set. Running through successive hits taken off his number 1 debut Disc-Overy, Tinie and his entourage detoured from Wonderman to Written in the Stars via the crowd-thrilling Miami to Ibiza. Calls of “where’s the moshpit” and repeated instructions to “bounce” engaged the audience, inspiring waves of jumping jacks. Most looked ironically spent by the time curtain closer Pass Out arrived. Tempah’s stage presence is energetic and firmly in the same mould as fellow London rapper Mr Rascal. Top marks.

Of the headliners, Foo Fighters take the honours for a sterling performance of pure rock and roll. The Foos – completing a hat-trick of T appearances – were in fine form, arriving on stage early to the delight of the Scottish folk. I want to know what Reggie Yates smelled on Dave Grohl’s breath backstage. Whatever it was, the much-loved frontman dominated the stage with his head-bashing antics reminiscent of a headless chicken.

Elsewhere, Friendly Fires Hawaiian Air banished thoughts of the weather while Chase & Status successfully doubled up from Glastonbury in King Tut’s. White Lies gloomy brand of guitar rock also excited despite ghostly lead singer Harry McVeigh’s adamance on disguising all emotion.

The only lowlights of the weekend for me were Gerard Way’s painfully whiny vocals during MCR’s outing and The Saturdays tragic cover of Aloe Blacc’s I Need a Dollar. Try perfecting your own songs first ladies. Did anyone else think Liam Gallagher’s hat and anorak combo likened him evermore to a scarecrow?

T in the Park continues to be my personal pick of the festivals broadcasted by the BBC. What’s yours?