Review and photography by Gunnar Mallon
In its second incarnation, the Outlines Festival rocked Sheffield again on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 March, drawing crowds from all over the country. Outlines is the brain-child of the people behind big-sibling Tramlines festival and focuses on bringing the audience a genre-spanning mix of big names and emerging talent.
With a total of 70 bands playing over two days, there was something for everyone’s musical tastes. Headliners Jagwar Ma, The Selecter and Slow Club were complemented by The Crookes, Lady Leshurr, Clean Cut Kid, Flamingods, and The Membranes, as well as a host of local and not so local artists. Split over four venues the festival catered to a wide array of atmospheres, including the gentle vibes of Queens Social Club, the charming pub atmosphere of The Harley, the party feel of club venue Plug, and the vibes of grown up concert hall Leadmill.
The festival’s organisers did a fantastic job avoiding too many clashes between artists of similar genres, though not always inevitable. One suggestion for next year’s event would be to organise busses between venues, as it was often not possible to travel from one to the other in time to catch ones favourite artist. The weekend was a great opportunity for smaller bands and emerging local acts to gain experience and exposure to larger crowds. Amongst the lesser known bands, some of whom sounded an awful lot like the Arctic Monkeys or the Pixies, were some absolute gems.
The stand-out performances, from the bands that I was able to catch, were the local heavy blues rockers Blind Saints, who’s set made way to extensive guitar whaling and drum solos, the thumping rock vibes of These Gangs, and post-punk band Shame, with their stage antics and unbound energy. However, there were too many excellent and unique bands to highlight them all.
One of the great things of Outlines Festival was that it attracted music enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds. In a true coming together of people who appreciate good music and love to support local acts, the atmosphere over the two days was outstanding and passed without any incidents. This was aided by excellent security services who tended to stay in the background and just let people have fun.
Closing the festival, alongside Jagwar Ma and Hookworms, were big-hitters Lady Leshurr, Jodie Abacus, and The Selecter. Following the highly energetic and dance-inducing grime set of Lady Leshurr, the overly charismatic and funky set of Jodie Abacus, now back as a quintet after his tour with Corinne Bailey Rae last year, set the mood for the last few hours of the festival.
The last act on stage were two-tone legends The Selecter. The Selecter are no strangers to Sheffield, having played at Tramlines 2015. As soon as Pauline Black stepped on stage, the crowd erupted in cheers and everyone knew that they were in for a treat. Having seen them for the first time 20 years ago in a small venue in Madrid, it was fantastic to be transported back to my younger years and to dance my socks off to ‘On My Radio’ and ‘Too Much Pressure’.
Outlines 2017 was incredibly well organised and managed to showcase some of the best emerging band as well as putting on established acts from around the globe. Bring on Tramlines 2017!