Get Together festival delivers the first big weekend of the year.
In search of a starting flag to this year’s festival season, I head to Sheffield for a day of Indie/Alternative goodness.
Verdict: Not to be missed.
Right from the start, Get Together has been a mighty fine proposition. A bank holiday festival in Sheffield, lined with some of Indie and Alternative’s best acts around, all for £30. It’s a no-brainer.
It was my first time in the city, and since we booked the tickets, I’d had some dream of the whole thing meeting the same vibes as Arab Strap’s ‘The First Big Weekend’. We arrived on Saturday night, having booked an AirBnB to accomodate us all, and immediately made for Ecclesall Road for a bar crawl. Spending even a short while in these places and you’re quickly informed of the pride Sheffield has for its music – I was caught by the lyrics to Love Action painted on the walls of Portland House, and the occasional Pulp song they threw into their playlist.
Breakfast the next day was sorted by Four Corners Canteen and their innovative take on the fry-up. Then, at last, it was off to Sheffield’s Student Union for the festival. Get Together is hosted across the campus, with main stage being the university’s dedicated events space, The Octagon. Street food was on offer around the courtyards and walkways between the venues, as was plenty of seating to catch a break in between sets. It really is a superb place to host a festival like this.
“Spending even a short while in these places and you’re quickly informed of the pride Sheffield has for its music…”
Gabe Coulter was our first stop of the day, catching the second half of his set on the Somewhere Stage whilst I debated whether to go for a cider or beer. Coulter’s music has a twilight, Hozier-esque pop soul softness which he blends with anthemic Britpop scale. Much as I don’t feel I will go out of my way to listen to his music again, his direct, baritone voice suits his style superbly.
Wunderhorse were our next stop, who’s palette of American-tasting 90s Alternative rock was quick to get me hooked. The band are supremely charismatic, directed by the soaring, expressive range of project’s creator Jacob Slater, who’s pair of brown Etnies really completed their slacker core fashion style. There’s an album out later this year, and I will certainly be taking a look.
“It’s a chance to appreciate what everyone is wearing – a vibrant mix of festival bohemia, secondhand and vintage pieces, plus a good dose of sportswear.”
We caught a brief slice of the hypnagogic sounds of Wesley Gonzalez, in place of Peaness who had to drop out due to Covid, before getting set up for The Blinders. Half of us are split on their sound, but my boyfriend and I are left rapturous by their slick blend of Garage grit and synth sophistication. It’s been a minute since I first came across them whilst on student radio with ‘L’etat C’est Moi’, and the tune is still absolutely cracking years later.
We make a beeline for the food vans to find a late lunch. By now, the place is busy, soundtracked by the sounds coming from the outdoor Under The Bridge stage nearby. It’s a chance to appreciate what everyone is wearing – a vibrant mix of festival bohemia, secondhand and vintage pieces, plus a good dose of sportswear. Anything goes, with no sense of pretentiousness whatsoever. It’s also clear to see that the two-piece suit trend is becoming one of the big ones of the year, and I may have to jump in on it.
Food scoffed down, our next priority is to get to the front for Pip Blom. Undoubtedly one of my most anticipated acts of the weekend, the Dutch Indie quartet have been one of my favourite bands in the world for a while now. Nothing about their insatiable catalogue of hip-swinging rock ditties has dulled since I last saw them in Clwb Ifor Bach, and being joined by fellow die-hard fans in the mosh pit was a dream come true. There is no limit to the love this band creates and deserves.
“The erratic energy they exude is brought to life through [Wooze’s] slippery, ever-morphing sound and stage antics.”
A dinner dash to the Co-op, and we split for our first evening set. One of us heads for psycherock heaven with She Drew The Gun, whilst the rest of us consume our meal deals under the bridge, soundtracked by newcomers Any Old Iron. We’re undecided on their name, but their sound draws broad agreement: we like it. Grungy, gnarly, and delivered with unrelenting pace. I’ll be keeping them on my radar.
We split up yet again as the sky darkens – Goat Girl tempts my flatmate away, and I would have been there had it not been for Wooze playing at the same time. Their 2019 single ‘I’ll Have What She’s Having’ is a firm favourite on my Football Manager playlist, but seeing them live was eye-opening. The erratic energy they exude is brought to life through their slippery, ever-morphing sound and stage antics. Indecipherable words bled like goo into their one minute funky/next minute rocky rhythms.
At last, it was headline time. Squid have a firm reputation for how wild their live performances get, but this was the first time I’d seen them at the top of the billing. One hour to deliver Art Punk carnage; a set that quite simply left any expectations in the dust. The previous time I had seen them at Tramshed had been a euphoric experience, making this more of an affirmation that lightning really can strike twice. I’ve long since been convinced that ‘Narrator’ will be seen as a classic of our times in years to come, but their fans really do treat hearing it live like a worship. Mosh pits at Squid are simply incomparable.
“Janet Planet and Sugar Bones are like Steps gone feral, and the bi panic they caused was, quite frankly, life changing.”
We head outside to relieve ourselves of the sweat – my flatmate checks out the bruise he picked up from a short-lived crowd surf, whilst I replace the batteries in my camera after they had escaped into my fanny pack. With the sky now firmly lightless, the need grows for us to have a boogie.
Luckily, Confidence Man were on standby to close out the night. Having only listened to one of their songs and only ever seen one picture of them, neither myself nor my mates could have been prepared for how much I was about to scream for the next 60 minutes. Imagine all the sounds of Chicago House, Acid House and 90s Breakbeat, reimagined through a camp, sexual, ever-so-slightly-mocking lens, delivered on stage with choreography, live instruments and outfit changes. Janet Planet and Sugar Bones are like Steps gone feral, and the bi panic they caused was, quite frankly, life changing.
Rumours of a DJ set on campus following the day’s festivities never materialise, and we decide that hitting the city centre is our best bet. We end up on the chaos of West Street, with a quick stop for food from Pasam’s Kebabs. It may be a sunday, but the bank holiday makes that irrelevant.
Stein Haus is our final destination, entering to find a mock-Bavarian beerhouse with a cheesy soundtrack. The Löwenbräu was off, but there are plenty of cocktail steins for those not so keen on German tastes. Everyone standing on the benches feels a bit aimless whilst the terrifically annoying ‘Shut Up and Dance’ by Walk The Moon plays, but thank the lord, an Artic Monkeys tune plays, and I at last feel like I’ve been given the proper Sheffield experience.
Almost a week on, my lasting impression of Get Together was the insurmountably good vibe that everyone seemed to be on. The bouncers were friendly, the crowds were superb and the bands were enjoying themselves. Not only does the festival cater to everyone no matter how hard or easy they want to take it, the curation of everything from the acts to the food trucks was quite simply sublime. Sheffield Students Union is a nigh-on perfect venue for an event like this, and my hope would be for it to continue to be hosted here in the future.
Much as May is a spring month, I’ve always seen it as the real start of the summer, and the start of festival season here in the UK. After two years of disruption and pandemic, Get Together was a perfect starting flag to my summer of music, and Sheffield was an ideal place to host it. I will most certainly be booking my tickets back.
Get Together Festival, Sheffield, 1st May 2022