No-Bounds cover

No Bounds 2018 Review: One step beyond

With two editions now under its belt, this year’s No Bounds Festival provided a fitting exhibition of the Sheffield scene which also sat on the cutting edge of contemporary electronic music.

Building on the success of its inaugural event, this year’s event saw a wide array of musicians and artists descend upon the Steel City to show what they were about, and it did not disappoint those that attended from all over the UK and beyond. Curated by Hope Works founder Liam O’Shea (also known for his productions and DJ sets as Lo Shea), No Bounds aims to showcase local artistic talents as well as the biggest names in the underground electronic music scene.From the very start it was clear that Sheffield was at its core. An opening talk with Mark Fell, the first of many informative conversations, workshops and educational sessions, showed that there would be a narrative running through the weekend which championed the city’s rich electronic music history and its current exports. Fell, the Rotherham-based producer who curated Saturday’s experimental daytime program at Trafalgar Warehouse, recounted his time growing up in the South Yorkshire party scene and gave attendees a taste of what to expect from the weekend’s parties. It’s safe to say that Hope Works, the base camp of the festival’s night program, was a true Steel City rave all weekend – from the Off Me Nut crew pummelling the crowds with their unique brand of bassline to Lo Shea’s closing set at Foodhall on the Sunday.It is clear that the well curated display of talent on offer is gaining the festival wider recognition as it progresses. Saturday’s FACT Magazine Stage presented all sorts of experimental live treats such as Rian Treanor and Nakul Krishmanurthy’s radical computer music meets Indian classical project. The presence of marquee headliners was felt less this year round, but instead gave rise to up-and-coming talents such as Blasha and Allat, Machine Woman and Object Blue (who gets a shoutout for wearing a bath robe for her whole set!). Women/Non-binary DJ workshops, immersive sound experiences in swimming pools, talks on mental health in the music industry and more showed the wealth of experiences on offer.

The vibe during the night events was one I had not felt in this city before. The crowd was different in the best way possible, which in turn gave rise to a feeling of real authenticity. After another superb year, No Bounds look like it’s here to stay and can only get better. Below are some key performance highlights from each night of the festival.Friday:
Their takeover of the ‘High Density Energy Chamber’ lead to some mind-bending performances of techno, dubstep and drum & bass all via the medium of live-coding. Algobabez and Class Compliant Audio Interfaces stood out in particular.

Following Winston Hazel’s chuggy dancehall set, Batu progressed seamlessly through his hour and a half delivering a range of driving sonic delights.

Giant Swan (Live)
The Bristol duo hard-hitting improvised live set blew the roof off the Hope Works main room.

Jensen Interceptor
Over in Europe under his Jensen Interceptor alias for the first time, he flew the flag for CPU and delivered a flawless set of crunching electro numbers – ending on a memorable 150bpm ghetto crescendo with the FTF System.

Kerrie (Live)
Eastern Bloc’s Kerrie generated an incredible vibe in the confines of Foodhall on Sunday which left everyone reeling. Moments of dark, heavy techno progressed effortlessly into softer euphoric breakdowns characterised by the sound of the 303.

No Bounds will return in 2019.

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