Review: Outlines 2017
There probably weren’t a whole load of people who looked at Sheffield’s annual metropolitan festival Tramlines and thought, “what this could do with is worse weather”, but for the past couple of years the same team of organisers have succeeded in tempting music-lovers out onto the city streets before the clocks have even gone forward.
Granted, unlike its older sibling Outlines is an exclusively indoor event, so the scurrying around in the cold and wet is kept to a relative minimum. This year expanded to a two-day event - or, more accurately, a Friday evening and Saturday event - the ethos behind Outlines remained the same; namely, to showcase a mix of fresh-faced newcomers alongside a generous pinch of local talent, with a few bigger name appearances for good measure.
Our first port of call on the Friday evening was Plug’s Room 2, and after a quick shake of the umbrella we headed in to see psychedelic globe-trotting five-piece Flamingods in typically fervent form. There are worse ways to warm yourself up for a festival weekend than with the group’s hyperactive worldly rhythms, and by the time lead vocalist Kamal Rasool had concluded his rampage into the crowd during the closing song there was a tangible frenzy in the air.
Somewhat less frenzied was the congregation at The Leadmill, where local favourites Slow Club were filling the Friday headline slot. We popped in to catch them wheeling through some newer material, before darting out again to make the short walk up to Queens Social Club, where Ninja Tune signee Romare was performing a festival-highlight live set. Chugging through his bewitching, African-inspired material with the accompaniment of his band, the London producer wove together slick downtempo boogie with visceral drops to ensure that the energy levels remained high as Outlines slipped into after-hours mode.
Up first - and, as it transpired, second - for us on Saturday was Sheffield MC Matic Mouth in Plug’s main room. A charismatic presence on stage, he wheeled through a number of fiery, bass-driven tracks before departing with a triumphant sign-off to make way for Croydon rapper Nadia Rose. Nadia Rose, however, didn’t seem to have made it out of Croydon that day, leaving Matic Mouth to return once more to the stage to gamely apologise for her absence and deliver an impromptu second set, which if anything went down better than his first despite having to draw upon previously unrehearsed material.
Once Matic Mouth was finally allowed to enjoy a wind-down rum and coke in the green room, Lady Leshurr emerged, flanked by a pair of dancers. She engaged the room with her witty, often delightfully silly lyrics, and whilst the array of interactive dance moves she instructed the crowd to follow over the course of her set proved slightly too energetic for this hungover reviewer, there was no doubt that by the time she was initiating a mosh pit for her finale she had her followers eating out the palm of her hand.
Our Saturday concluded in the same manner as the Friday, with another trip to Queens Social. Glaswegian outfit Bossy Love sandwiched infectious funk around an ongoing between-songs story about killing a partridge with their van on their way into Sheffield, before Leeds psych-drone rockers Hookworms bombarded the crowd with an onslaught of noise and visuals to cap off Outlines’ second year with an almighty punch to the gut.
Words: Jack Scourfield