Sheffield's own festival, Tramlines, is a different type of festival. For starters, it's absolutely free, the only price is your patience for the queues and your tolerance to body odour (but then again, you get that in any festival). Also, it's held inside a city instead of a field/stadium/sacred ground, so you get a wider arrange of venues and facilities. You can always go to any shop of your choice if you don't agree with the prices from the stalls.

But that's the small stuff, the big stuff is the music and for 2011's edition of Tramlines, you certainly were spoiled for choice. It literally had every possibly genre catered for. This is a blessing and a curse, as you will always feel torn between watching A or B band and your usual decision criteria will fall on how far is the venue (in this case, mostly pubs) or how much you really want to see the band.

Friday was the “light” day for me, as I hardly had any conflicts on my proposed schedule. Firing up the proceedings was Pistola Kicks, a local band that mixed indie with some proggy stuff (very lightly though). It's only three dudes, but they manage to create quite a racket and they are miles above the one song everyone knew from them ('Shoes'). 'Head in the sand' and 'Button' are magnificent live.

Samuel Valdes Pistola Kicks Forum Friday 1

A quick stroll to the very intimate The Washington and we got to see two powerhouses with different styles but very equal powers of aural excitement. obLONG are a very “symmetric” band, as you always see their tiny (but courageous) singer on the centre and the bass and guitar flying wingman. Their sound is always a very hard form of rock and you'd never believe how Tracy (lead vocals) can get so loud. An hypnotic, aggressive siren-call like song called 'Mine' was a highlight of their set.

Samuel Valdes obLONG Washington Friday 1

After carefully placing enough amplifiers to exacerbate our carbon footpring Mega Aquarians took the tiny, cozy stage at The Washington. It's only two guys but you'd never believe the racket they can create. A punchy mix of psychedelic rock with some grunge thrown in for good measure, they absolutely brought the house down. Both band members were drenched in sweat by the end, but the strong clapping was probably worth their effort.

Samuel Valdes Mega Aquarians Washington Friday 1 Samuel Valdes Nedry New Music Stage Saturday 2

Saturday was the day where a bit of triage would be needed. Still, the final choices were pretty spot on. A good start was had with the on the rise monster that's called Hey Sholay. Any hype you may read about them is spot on, as their energetic show is always paired with a lot of musical talent. Current single 'Dreamboat' is a delight live, but old staples like 'Devil at the Backdoor' and 'Burning' are little gems worth your time. Nedry was a bit of a shock after the upbeat show of Hey Sholay, but slowly it grew into the people's tastebuds. I'm a sucker for Ayu Okakita's powerful voice and I agree that they are much, much better live than on record.

Samuel Valdes Hey Sholay New Music Stage Saturday 7

A very interesting stage was doing the rounds in Sheffield's streets. A sight very common to a Mexican like me, but strange to the average British person: people playing music inside buses. This Busker Bus was curated by local rockers Bromheads and the one I got on had a local bluegrass/Americana band called Pete David & The Payroll Union, who entertained the crowd in the double decker bus for the duration of the ride. Songs like 'There's a light' and 'Whiskey on my whiskey' were very well received by the public and the band was very chatty with everyone during and after their set.

Samuel Valdes Pete David Payroll Union Busker Bus Saturday 1

Not all festivals can be perfect and a last minute venue closure meant that some bands had to be sent to another stage. The logistical change meant that some bands where a little too far from the main event and the audience was pretty much non-existent. The Unfortunate Incident soldiered on, even if there was barely a person for their strong set. Playing a mix between classic rock, punk and country, they gave their bloody best and kept a brave face to what could've been a disaster set and a justifiable cancelled gig too. Songs like 'Fool', 'I don't wanna be in a band' and 'Fire' where all excellent and again, it was a shame that almost no-one saw them as they gave it it all. Good one.

Samuel Valdes The Unfortunate Incident Bar 27 Saturday 2

After a quick run uphill, I managed to catch the always impressive Cats:For:Peru, a five piece who ignore genres and just do what they damn please. You can have 5, 6 genres in one song, all melted together and served without any problems or technical hitches (barring the cursed guitar that won't stay tuned). Playing mostly stuff from their recent EP, We had this problem last winter and a few new ones, the band got a rapturous set and even got cajoled into an encore.

Samuel Valdes Cats-For-Peru The Harley Saturday 1

I managed to see half of the set by Guillemots and suffice to say is: they are a charming band, with their romanticised music feeling like a poetry reading, filled with nook and crannies. Had to leave early as had to cross a bit of distance to see Mabel Love, a Sheffield band that's getting quite a buzz, deservingly so too. They play a very gloomy sort of rock, not exactly Gothic, but not very cheerful. Powerful, though, with a pretty good rhythm section and the right set of tracks played live. 'Ha ha people' is quite the catchy one and their recent single, 'Hardened face' is a keeper.

Samuel Valdes Mabel Love Leadmill Saturday 2 Samuel Valdes Guillemots Main Stage Saturday 3

Speaking of keepers, The Monicans are providers of a fine variety of grunge rock. With hints of garage, their impeccable set made quite a few pogo and mosh around. 'Into the rows' is both catchy and aggressive, but the real gem is 'So Unsure', a track that includes a very spacey eBow interlude that reeks of vintage 90s alt-rock while still being a very fresh ditty. The night ended with the always intense Skeletons and the Empty Pockets, who play an unnerving rock that makes you both want to dance and run to the hills (due to the slightly scary nature of the lyrics). The band never stay still (except for their very able keyboard man) and their groovy songs always hit the spot. They gave away a few vinyl singles at the end, the absolute cherry on top for their set.

Samuel Valdes Skeletons and the Empty Pockets O2 Academy Saturday 8 The Monicans Green Room  Sunday

Sunday started quite well with the retro feeling that Dead Sons offer. Their songs are full of great ideas (like the explosive 'The Holler & The Hymns') and this five piece know how to give their best to an audience. Their recent free singles ('Berlin', 'Junk Room') got a good approval from a public that although tired of the previous two days, was still hungry for more music.

Samuel Valdes Dead Sons Main Stage Sunday

After a bus ride, I was able to see a complete different side to Tramlines. Whereas the main areas are located in pubs and a couple of open spaces, the Folk Forest was located in the beautiful Endcliffe Park. The atmosphere was superb, very family friendly and full of great food (and drink) options. This relaxing place was perfect for acoustic and folky bands and I manage to see Captives on the Carousel, a duo playing a storyline-driven sort of folk. Armed with a cello (and a loop pedal) and a guitar, they were a breathe of fresh air from all the indie and rock acts. 'Russian doll' is a beautiful song by them and you can check it out at their bandcamp.

Samuel Valdes Captives on the Carousel Folk Forest Sunday

Another bus trip and a long wait (some technical problems) were the hurdles I had to take to watch The Monicans again. They changed their set a bit, and even if the room they were in was way smaller than their previous stage, they still were very professional, playing with a lot of passion. Speaking of passion, The Hope Explosion showed theirs with a very loud set that had a few people dancing, a lot of bystanders peering through the windows looking at the drummer going mad and me very happy of seeing this prog rock band getting a big audience and a warm welcome. Old songs like 'Pin down the detail' and 'Talk is cheap' were intersped with new recordings that show the muscles this band can flex: creativity, thick guitar atmospheres and a beast of a drummer who never misses a beat (and wears interesting hats).

Samuel Valdes The Hope Explosion Green Room Sunday 5

The day was ending and to cap it off, what better than a band that jumps playfully that thin line between shoegaze and dream pop? Firesuite, another local band with a very lush combination of female/male vocals rocked out songs from their debút album, You're an ocean deep, my brother. Even if they had the hard task of playing after Castrovalva pretty much floored their audience (so I'm told, wish I'd seen them), Firesuite displayed a strong musical muscle. 'Beneath the roses', 'Rabbit' and 'Amity' were all great tunes. A quick run to the other side of the street and I managed to sneak to a secret gig by Hey Sholay, who offered a magnificent ending to my Tramlines experience.

Samuel Valdes Firesuite West Street Live Sunday 5

Barring a few problems and nitpicks, Tramlines 2011 was a very enjoyable experience. The best thing is having so many options, proving that the goal of this festival is to showcase the veritable cornucopia of genres and bands the city of Sheffield has to offer (with quite a few top choices from nearby cities).