Another year, and another trip to Sheffield for the steel city's musical weekender, Tramlines; one that has grown in size and stature year on year, with 2017 producing arguably the festival's finest line up to date.
The opening day presents a direct split between indie rock (Main Stage) and rap (Devonshire Green Stage). With the latter preferred, it was veterans The Pharcyde who warm up the event with their legendary brand of West-Coast hip-hop.
Then came the stage’s Mercury-nominated headliner: Kano. As one of the forefront jewels in the crown of grime, the London rapper looks on top of his game – spitting bars alongside an impressive horn section. The night is closed with a celebration of the East-Londoner’s burgeoning scene; pulsating collaboration ‘3 Wheel-ups’ (Giggs, Wiley) fittingly embodies some of the most respected innovators in the genre.
The Saturday sees a return to Devonshire Green, and Sheffield super-group Logs (Drenge, Menace Beach, Seize The Chair, Wet Nuns and Saif Mode) entice a glut of locals out for an early afternoon set. Their guitars are expectedly raging and distorted, but the melodies on offer are left wanting. Alvarez Kings follow; their harmonies in ‘Fear To Feel’ and ‘Cold Conscience’ are at least zesty, albeit clichéd.
With their simple yet heart-racingly effective basslines, Estrons hint towards a big future for the Welsh quartet. Fan-favourite ‘Drop’ is the finale, a psycho-speed track, which explains the group’s desire to be known as “a heavy pop band”.
But if the aforementioned caused a stir in the crowd, the entrance of Mancunian outfit Spring King whips up an absolutely volcanic atmosphere. Recognisable hits ‘Who Are You?’ and ‘City’ has the crowd, full of keen young hipsters, lodged firmly in the palm of the indie-rockers' hands.
As the rain intensifies into the evening, a trip to the main stage is put on ice in favour of a visit to the beloved fringe. The Great Gatsby pub have an impressive line up in their poky upstairs room; Cowtown air some old classics and newbies alike, before Seize The Chair hammer out a set loud enough to give listeners tinnitus the following morning.
In true Tramlines fashion, you’re left waking up on the Sunday morning, sore head and wondering how one weekend can flash before your eyes so quick. But the best handful of artists is saved until last on this occasion, with the Ponderosa main stage showcasing a stellar selection.
Loyle Carner - with a peculiar stage setup including bookshelves, chairs and pretty much everything but the kitchen sink – waves a t-shirt whilst portraying his introspective album Yesterday’s Gone. Tongue and cheek rap queen Lady Leshurr, who is more social media engrossed than politically-focussed, follows with a more high energy set.
Then comes a euphoric penultimate slot from The House Gospel Choir, who’s mash-up of 90’s house anthems and elaborate harmonies is eyebrow-raising - you’d struggle to find a more upbeat and spirited performance.
Finally, the cherry on the Tramlines cake arrives in the form of Metronomy’s sweet selection of melody. The British electro-poppers are suddenly finding themselves topping bills across the festival horizon after a long touring graft since 2005. ‘The Bay’, ‘The Look’ and ‘Love Letters’ are notable crowd highlights, but executed just as perfectly as the synth-drenched ’16 Beat’, the re-jigged ‘I’m Aquarius’ and thrilling new cut ‘Lately’. Is it next year yet…?