A few thoughts on Sheffield music city
So the dust has settled on the first Tramlines festival and the general consensus seems to be that it was one of the best all-round weekends that Sheffield has seen for many years.
The atmosphere around town was electric, particularly in the Devonshire quarter where the pubs were heaving and there was stuff going on wherever you looked. On top of all the live music there was also the big wheel, the Fargate continental market and events in Barker’s pool that added to the feel-good factor around the city.
The fine weather on Friday and Saturday certainly helped things get off to a good start, and you were spoilt for choice with regards to what to see. As well as the main stage on Devonshire green, the world stage in the Peace gardens seemed to go down very well and it was great fun to wander in and out of the other city pubs and venues to explore the eclectic line-ups of bands, DJs and performers.
According to @talkelectric, there were an estimated 10-15,000 people in town for the festival and takings for local businesses quadrupled.
Further out of town there was plenty going on too, with the fun carrying on at the Cremorne, Shakespeare and Earl, the BBQ and DJs up at the university and of course the wonderful Rude shipyard on Abbeydale road. This place continued to show the world how a good coffee shop should be run with its own intimate, unamplified live music sessions in the upstairs room accompanied by pints of local cask ale from the Brew company.
There were one or two things that could have been better. The debate continues on Sheffield forum regarding the Devonshire green ticketing arrangements for Saturday and Sunday, where many people were annoyed at either not getting a ticket or not being able to return after leaving the enclosure. It was a bit frustrating being stuck by the main stage all day on Saturday when there were so many other things going on that would have been good to pop out and see.
Some people have grumbled that they were unable to get tickets, but I have to say that after going along at the published time both days, I queued for under an hour and each time came away with tickets with no fuss. There have also been objections to people taking two tickets and keeping both so they could leave and then re-enter Devonshire green, as well as some people getting cross that some ticket holders chose to not enter the main stage area until the evening.
I don’t see why the organisers couldn’t do away with the tickets completely and simply count 5,000 people in and then operate a one-out, one-in policy? I think you would get a natural flow of people leaving to check out the other venues and what’s more, the main stage would have more chance of being at capacity almost all day, which I don’t think was the case this time – almost certainly due to the ticketing.
It would also have been nice to be able to buy a beer and lie back and watch the bands (even if it was a £3.50 can of Red stripe), but with the bar area away from the main stage this was impossible. I guess it was put in place to stop people getting really drunk in the main family area and in that sense it seemed to work.
The people that didn’t get tickets were forced to drink and dance in the streets on the other side of the fences, which by the looks of things actually looked as least as much fun as being in the pen.
The rain on Sunday was a bit of a downer and after seeing a tweet that said the main stage looked dead I was wondering whether the showers had put people off. But there were plenty of people who were still determined to make the best of it and by the evening it had filled up.
The La’s pulling out was a blow and I had also been looking forward to seeing the Noisettes on the Saturday. If anyone is wondering where the Noisettes got to, I did hear that they had been interviewed on Radio 1 on Sunday ‘poolside from LA’ so I guess that explains their no-show. I can’t imagine why you would you choose California over Sheffield…
One other small gripe was the music that Hallam FM kindly pumped at the crowd on the main stage between performers on Saturday. It was the same set of songs on repeat all day (as @designsheffield pointed out, actually pretty similar to the approach they take with their playlist) which was annoying for anyone on the green for more than about 45 minutes.
After putting on a decent pop line-up, I felt it was a chance for the radio station to enhance its credibility with people that may not normally listen but to be honest it confirmed my doubts about how in touch they are with listeners’ needs. If it was intentional then it was a bad idea and if not, did no-one backstage or on the sound desk consider sticking on a few different tunes from their iPod or phone? Nickelback’s Rock star should not be inflicted on anyone ten times in a single day.
Encouragingly, the main festival organisers seem to be responding to feedback regarding this year’s event so hopefully if Tramlines happens again next year it will be even better. Does anyone have any other thoughts or suggestions for how it could be further improved? Perhaps an idea for allocating tickets? Or how about closing off more roads in the Devonshire quarter?
Now is the time to air your views to ensure that Sheffield music city/Tramlines 2010 further builds on the heart-warming success of this year’s event.