LIVE: Tramlines Fringe Festival – Sheffield

By Dave Bull

Tramlines festival in Sheffield is a multi venue music festival displaying the best in pretty much every genre going, with the Saturday lineup giving punters the option of All Saints on one stage or Oathbreaker on another. Sadly our pass didn’t allow us entry to watch All Saints, so it was a day of math-core, doom, electronic and well, Oathbreaker! There was also a first for Myrkur as Amalie Bruun played a scaled back acoustic solo performance which was one of those ‘I was there moments’.

Waking Aida kicked off proceedings with their form of math inspired technical electronica. Apparently they used to be purely instrumental but now are doing some vocal work, which does add to the songs live. There is a bit too much chit chat for a support band, but underneath this, Waking Aida do enough to warrant themselves on this experimental lineup and show promise for the future. It will be interesting to see how they develop, both aurally and in terms of their live persona.

Body Hound are incredible. Featuring ex members of Rolo Tomassi and taking influences from the likes of Meshuggah, this four piece instrumental act tear the rather noble surroundings of the Sheffield City Hall a new one. Each of the band possess that likability that instantly attracts and the musical technicality is second to none. Bassist Joseph Thorpe is wonderfully energetic and expressive, as are both guitarists who seem to be having the time of their lives. ‘Vector Approaching’ is as frenetic as it is technical. It would be great to see some new music from this band – a wonderful experimental band, who are sure fire to be future leaders in their scene.

Gallops are a wonderfully strange blend of electronica and noise and synth inspired dance music. If the music doesn’t take you, then the flat out performance by the band will. The electronic synths and overlays of sound greatly enhance the erratically rich guitar licks. The tracks, like ‘Pale Horse’ build like dance music, the pressure gauge ticking hot, before the ‘impossible not to nod head enthusiastically to’ beat carries the audience aloft a heady high. The beauty of having a set-up like Gallops is the blur between the lines of genre definition. And this is what is so great about them – they freely recycle drum loops whilst kicking into groovy guitar tunes, the euphoric break downs saliva inducing, and our support for this band is absolute.

God Damn have been making waves for a couple of years and have put in some memorable performances, such as their Camden Rocks one a few years ago. But tonight, despite their now three piece appearance, fail to really get anyone too excited. There are some great moments, and undoubtedly they are a superbly talented rock band. The live addition of James definitely adds another wall of intensity but they fail to really meet expectations, particularly this far up the bill, and particularly considering the performance of previous bands on the stage today.

Myrkur (aka Amalie Bruun) performs one of the sets of the night, a scaled back acoustic affair complete with grand piano and strange multi stringed instrument akin to a combination of stringed instrument and squeeze bag. Amalie’s vocal ability is nothing short of mesmerising and is unlike anything else on the bill today. Despite singing in a ‘foreign’ language, the crowd is enthralled. Bruun even jokes, ‘thanks for enjoying a set that you don’t understand’, her blunt sarcasm adding to her overall mystique and awe. She gently floats from stringed instrument to piano, her vocals intoxicating all before her. Despite various sound issues which continue from here and throughout the Oathbreaker set, the crowd take in every note, every breath. This was something truly special, and everyone knows they have witnessed something more than most bands can achieve in a live setting. There is even a song that was co-written with Chelsea Wolfe, a more angst-ridden piano piece, with those famously used lower notes, the perfect end to a perfect set.

Oathbreaker, as everyone already knows by now, smash the venue to pieces. There is a ferocity about Oathbreaker tonight that is electric to behold. From ’10:56′ onwards the set is bulging with that unmistakable Oathbreaker seal of approval. ‘Needles In Your Skin’ is as relentless live, as it is on wax. The only disappoint is that Caro Tanghe’s voice is often drowned out in the more exuberant sections of each song. Nothing can be taken away from the band as they try to increase the volume of both vocals and guitar output throughout, even the crowd try with call of ‘we need more vocals’, but to no avail.

The band are riding a never ending wave of success after last year’s ‘Rheia’ stunned audiences with its musical brilliance, its complex matrix of instrumental genius and vocal perfection. If there is one band that can do no wrong right now, it’s Oathbreaker. Hail the new kings and queen of alternative music. Tramlines Fringe wouldn’t have been the same without you.