The hike in costs for Tramlines weekend tickets hasn’t come without criticism over the last 5 years. However, £50 still presents terrific value to see what is the festivals most exciting line-up yet.The opening day is directly split between indie rock (Ponderosa Stage) and rap (Devonshire Green Stage). With the latter preferred, veterans The Pharcyde offer their legendary West-Coast hip-hop. Classics such as ‘Runnin’ and ‘Passin’ Me By’ still sound as fresh as they did upon their 1990’s release.
Then came the stage’s Mercury-nominated headliner: Kano. Armed with a horn section to boot, the East-Londoner provs exactly why he is regarded as one of the prime jewels in the grime scene’s crown. Closing with the thumping collaboration ‘3 Wheel-ups’ (Giggs, Wiley), the bar-spitter does his burgeoning genre more than justice.
With an instant return to Dev’ Green, Saturday opens with local super-band Logs (Menace Beach, Drenge, Wet Nuns, Seize The Chair, Saif Mode) who entice a swathe of locals out early. With expectedly thunderous guitars, the group cause a racket – but one without the pull of notable hooks or interesting melody.
Indie newbies Alvarez Kings follow with less aggressive guitars, but equally as unoriginal hooks in tracks ‘Cold Conscience’ and ‘Fear To Feel’. Luckily, with their simple-yet-effective basslines Estrons are at hand to steer the day towards something more exciting. Psycho-speed fan-favourites such as ‘Drop’ hint towards a big future for the Welsh quartet, a song that explains the group’s desire to be labelled “a heavy pop band”.
But if we thought the aforementioned caused a stir, Mancunion indie-rockers Spring King whip up and absolute volcanic atmosphere. ‘City’ and ‘Who Are You?’ particularly keep the crowd lodged firmly in the palm of the band’s hands.
As the rain only gets worse as the evening goes on, 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 miniature upstairs room; Cowtown air some old classics and newbies alike, before Seize The Chair hammer out a set raucous enough to give listeners tinnitus the following morning.
In true Tramlines fashion, Sunday morning is the time for waking with a sore head and a wonder how the weekend is flashing before your eyes. Luckily, the closing arsenal of artists see the best saved until last – Sunday’s Ponderosa lineup is stellar.
Waving a t-shirt amongst a set of armchairs and bookcases, Loyle Carner is the first to make a truly lasting impression. His debut release Yesterday’s Gone resonates brilliantly, each song offering a new – and relevant – socio-political gripe. Lady Leshurr, The tongue and cheek rap Queen who follows, is another rising star of the British rap scene.
Finally – in becoming the cherry on the Tramlines cake – Metronomy lay on a sweet selection of off-kilter melody and twisted pop hooks. Fan-favourites ‘Love Letters’, ‘The Look’ and ‘The Bay’ clearly steel the show, but less popular tracks such as ‘My Heart Rate Rapid’ and ‘Mick Slow’ are equally as enthralling. Thrilling new cut ‘Lately’ proves their discography is showing no signs of slowing down. Bring on the festival’s highly anticipated 10th birthday in 2018.