Wolf Alice at Tramlines 2013

Who the hell are Wolf Alice? – Sheffield Unchained reviews Tramlines 2013

Mixing undiscovered local talent with some of the hottest bands on the music scene, it’s no surprise that Tramlines, an independent inner-city music festival in Sheffield, has harnessed the title of ‘best Metropolitan Festival’ in the past.

This year’s line-up saw the Tramlines debut of Wolf Alice, a young, four-piece alternative band from London. Wolf Alice – whose unique name was inspired by Roswell’s favourite novel – first crept onto the music scene in 2010 sporting a folk-tinged pop sound. Originally a solo project, vocalist Ellie Roswell was later joined by guitarist Joff Oddie, bassist Joel Amey and drummer Theo Ellie. Alas, the rebirth of Wolf Alice, now described as the “lovechild of folk and grunge”.

Following the release of their self-titled EP, Wolf Alice signed to independent record label Chess Club Records, which has nurtured and developed some of the most talented new bands in the UK. They released their first single “Fluffy” in February. Gaining airplay from BBC Radio 1 and recognition from NME, Wolf Alice began roaming the independent festival circuit – which brought them right here to the Steel City.

A breath of fresh air

Hustled in the corner of a small bar with meager lighting, performing to a small crowd, they ooze independence and raw talent. Carefully selecting Sheffield’s much loved Bungalows and Bears as their musical cavern, the band presented a cracking show. Just hours before the gig they encouragingly tweeted “Show tonight is free sheffers!”. Not bad for a band who recently toured with Peace – a band who is tipped to be the biggest buzz amongst festivals this year.

Proudly displaying their progression from previous folk niceties, their opening song fills the room with core-shaking drum beats, intense crashing of guitar riffs and enchanting vocals. Roswell is truly mesmerising throughout, particularly on “White Leather”, which echoes the same vocal elegance belonging to Romy Madley Croft of The XX, who is actually signed by the same record label.

Their ferocious presence hasn’t waned since I last saw them in Leeds, and proving themselves to be anything but static, “Nosedive” presents a very satisfying change of musical direction. The compromise of diverse genres is evident on this track which hints at a new wave of 90’s revival.

Their first single “Fluffy” is finally announced by the heavy roaring of guitars and goes down a treat as a sea of nodding heads and appreciative smiles look on. The band keep it alive as they launch straight into “Leaving You”, the track that introduced them to the music scene.

The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the arrival of their latest single “Bros” a song about friendship and loyalty. Filled with emotional nostalgia the performance was certainly hypnotic.

Down to earth with an achingly dry sense of humour, these guys are a breath of fresh air. The audience, including myself, were left musically sated and crushing on the beautiful Ellie Roswell, who looks effortlessly cool with a metallic red Fender Stratocaster in hand. We were all left wondering what would come next for a band full of charisma and formidable talent.

Admittedly a fan of bands who never write the same song twice, I’m sure Wolf Alice will continue to prowl the music scene with their unique sound. And in all honesty, I can’t wait!