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Tramlines / Nachthexen / Pretty Pretty Good / Beat-Herder

by Now Then Sheffield

2 July
Audacious Art Experiment

Nachthexen are drunk. “Really drunk,” they giggle. Wearing neon yellow bob wigs to match the colour of their vinyl, and gathered in the tiny performing space of the Audacious Art Experiment, there’s no attempt to hide their giddiness at playing their first record release show.

And yet despite the easy, laughing interactions with their audience, and the apologies for the amount of wine they’ve drunk, it’d be hard to know it from their playing. Loud and confident, their songs are delivered in two-minute blasts of hypnotising, frenetic punk.

At one point pausing to dedicate a song to women and female friendship, they launch into ‘Fuck The Diet’. Directly calling out a society that wants women to reduce themselves physically and mentally, Nachthexen repeatedly shout the phrases often used to bully women into achieving this – beach body, lose weight, fight fat – only to retaliate with an impassioned shout of “fuck the diet”. The joy they have in tearing down this sexism is clearly shared by the audience, who yell their agreement, dancing and clapping along.

In contrast with other punk bands currently on the DIY scene, Nachthexen’s guitars and static are cut through with a sense of eeriness, a strangeness, from the distorted synths. It’s on the EP closer, ‘Cheer Up Luv’, that this is most apparent, the audience swaying to the background track as it swirls and eddies behind the stark vocals. As the song wears on, the refrain of “it might never happen” becomes both more threatening and more enticing, the spell only broken when the synth stops, the wigs are taken off, and the gig is over.

Hannah Williams

PRETTY PRETTY GOOD TRAMLINES LAUNCH PARTY

21 JULY
HARLEY

Admittedly, it doesn’t take much to get Sheffielders reared up and ready for a Tramlines weekend, but Pretty Pretty Good’s social gathering was the perfect medicine for anyone seeking some pre-weekend encouragement. Known for their epic parties, PPG concocted the perfect potion of merriment, a Call Super sandwich with residents in place as the wholesome bread.

The back-to-back introduction from the residents, Triple Point and Smorsli, was packed with sultry house. It’s only a shame the venue didn’t fill a little faster to appreciate their efforts. Brotherly collaboration resulted in super tight mixing, a thrilling preface to the evening. The night quickly became a page-turner and the crowd was keen to read on.

Headliner Call Super, also known as Ondo Fudd, was responsible for fusing myriad house and techno tracks. Straying from his base in intelligent techno, Fudd’s focus was firmly party, exposing himself as a Berliner at heart. 'KHLHI' by Four Tet’s alter ego, Percussions, went down a treat and added more to the swinging revelry at the snug Harley.

Is it a coincidence that both Triple Point and Call Super’s names are derived from concepts in science and programming? Their music certainly has something of the fantastical within. I’d put their sets up there with the likes of Floating Points, another scientist whose knowledge of the field is evidenced in his musical contributions.

I can’t imagine that there were many better ways to prepare for Tramlines. The Pretty Pretty Good community should be praised for their impeccable taste, promotion of underground artists and most of all for setting the bar high before a glorious Tramlines weekend. Keep entertaining the city, because you do it so well.

Jennifer Martino

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15-17 July
Ribble Valley

Another squelchy July goes by and my mind is dominated by hefty memories of Beat-Herder festival, a grinning bonanza of music, mayhem and pure cheek.

Following the cancellation of Primal Scream, the organisers found another big 90s band to fill their boots. James had just released a new album, Girl At the End of the World, and opened Glastonbury in June.

Before their set I spoke to Jim Glennie and Saul Davies, bassist and guitarist from James, starting the interview with a small rendition of my favourite James song, 'Sometimes'.

"'Sometimes' is probably Tim [Booth]'s favourite," explained Jim, after a stunned reaction to my shouty a capella version of their old hit. "At the moment we're really enjoying playing 'Attention' from the new album.

"We're actually already writing songs for the next album," said Saul. "In Yellow Arch Studios. It's very typically Sheffield, understated but great for making music."

Their set was performed well, but didn't succeed in capturing the crowd quite so much as a headliner should. 'Sometimes' was the highlight, especially after an impromptu circle pit was started in the middle of the crowd. Probably the first circle pit for a ballad in the North since Joe Cocker's 'You Are So Beautiful' was played at Corp on a Monday night.

Saturday went by at un unruly pace. We were involved in a joint stag and hen party and fulfilled the fancy dress theme of 'R' by collectively dressing as a registry office. Togged up in our finest fascinators and swishiest skirts, we marauded through the mud to all corners of the site.

At Trash Manor, a neo-classical villa, we admired the hypnotic movements of the pole-dancing robots grooving to Appleblim and A Guy Called Gerald. Inside Pratty's Ring we stomped to General Levy, amongst the Toil Trees we threw our hands in the air to Derrick Carter, and upon the Fortress we descended for a special three-hour Off takeover, featuring Thorpey, Phatworld and Smiley Maxx.

"Sunday's the best day, you're going to love it!" proclaimed a massive sunburnt man next day. Arm-in-arm with a huge bear and wearing perfect make up, he was shouting his message to all and sundry as we staggered down to the arena.

A perfect Sunday of sunny skanking and contented smiles followed. Slowly touring the secluded venues like Gay Paris and the Sunrise stage brought us back to the main arena, where Chronixx surprised me with an excellent sunny, big-band reggae set.

Captain Hotknives didn't disappoint either. His traditional gig at the Working Men's Club was even more passionate and hilarious than usual, with recent events adding an extra growl to his fiercely unifying message.

Alex Fenton-Thomas

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by Now Then Sheffield

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