Sheffield’s urban music festival returns for a second year
So once again the hordes descended on the city centre for the second year of the Tramlines festival. This time it was much bigger than 2009, with an estimated 125,000 people creating an amazing atmosphere around town.
Following feedback from last year, there were some changes for 2010. The problematic ticketing system for the main stage was scrapped in favour of a one-in, one-out policy. This meant that there was queuing down Devonshire street, particularly on the Saturday, but on the whole I think it worked much better and led to the main arena being much fuller for more of the day.
Devonshire street queues
The capacity for Devonshire green was increased to around 8,000, with a bigger area fenced off. This meant that the spontaneous barbecues and gatherings that took place along the Rare’n'racy stretch of Devonshire street didn’t occur, which was a shame. Most of the businesses along there were inside the enclosure. I understand that the intention was for there to be public access to it via the side gates, but this didn’t seem to happen.
It was good that you were allowed to drink anywhere inside the main stage area, Food wise, I think there is room for more outlets offering a bigger variety of cuisine than we saw this year.
If you wanted to see a particular band then you needed to get there early, allowing time to queue to get in the different venues. Some people seemed annoyed at this but as it is a free festival, I don’t think that much can be done about it. I found that when one band finished playing there was the opportunity to move inside and get a good spot for the next one.
It was possible to avoid the queues if you chose your venues carefully. Drifting between the new music stage in Barker’s pool and also the world stage in the Peace gardens was easy. And I had no problem walking straight in to the Leadmill, Frog and parrot and Soyo at various times over the weekend.
If you didn’t go on the Busker line bus, then you missed out. As well as a practical means of getting around, it became a venue in itself. I overheard one old couple sat behind me on there discussing whether they should go round again. It sounds like they had been on it a while.
The organisers have said they’d like to make Tramlines even bigger if it returns in 2011. It will be interesting to see how they go about this. I can’t see how the main stage can increase its capacity, although they could also open it on the Friday night.
I also get the feeling that there is a limit on the size of the headliner that Tramlines can accommodate on Devonshire green. Echo and the bunnymen was a perfect fit: an established band that appeals to different generations and has at least a few songs that most people will recognise. If the main band was were really big then although that in some ways would be brilliant, it would also bring with it a whole new level of logistical and security issues.
Echo and the bunnymen
There isn’t another obvious city centre location for a bigger stage than Devonshire green. They could look to using the Don valley bowl, but part of the appeal of the festival is its compactness and the atmosphere that is generated in town because of this.
Also, at the moment I don’t think Tramlines is just about getting big names to play. Although having very well known bands playing where you know the songs is great, the festival is as much for me about soaking up the atmosphere around town, checking out some new music and supporting local artists and businesses at the same time.
The organisers have acknowledged that some elements of this year’s festival could have been run better and are still looking for feedback (they have over 500 points on the list already). You can get in touch via Facebook.
And if you want to increase the chances of Tramlines happening again next year, they have also set up a voluntary donation scheme.
All in all it was another great weekend, I think the most exciting of the year to be hanging out in the city centre.
Tramlines TV videos
Shake aletti Activity Sheffield dancers
Solar disco, Devonshire green
Live art in Soyo