Immersed! Festival ’23 Review

Words and images by Sarah Jayne Smith

Organising a festival is stressful. Unforeseen challenges can thwart even the most experienced of teams, but for a group of university students to pull off a high-caliber event such as last Saturday night is extraordinary.

At a time when most are choosing to stay home due to the cost-of-living crisis, it is a pleasure to see so many attendees at The Tramshed. Following on from a successful fifth Anniversary Awards Event at the ATRiuM, the Immersed! Festival enters its second day to showcase musical talent, whilst raising awareness and funds for Music Declares Emergency.

Approaching the queue to enter, the enticing smell of burgers and hotdogs wafts towards the gate. It’s not often to see such a variety of ages among Tramshed attendees, but this event has something for everyone and even the security team’s excitement is evident.

Inside the main area, a handful of stalls have been set up. Selling jewellery, accessories and upcycled fashion, it’s a welcome change from the overpriced band merchandise that’s usually on offer here. Next to the lengthy bar sits a grand red dragon surrounded by flames. This display signifies the tattoo parlour where guests are painted rather than jabbed.

Four stages are welcoming audiences throughout the afternoon and evening, each named after an element and each showcasing an eclectic mix of music. Fire is the main stage, where hip-hop duo DiffJaxx open with explosive beats and powerful lyrics. Next up, rock trio Shlug bring a heavy mix of raw, angry punk to the set as lead singer Ellis ditches his t-shirt in a classic Shlug move.

Upstairs is the Air stage where the likes of psyche-rock band Banshi mesmerize a packed-out room with hypnotic melodies and flawless vocals that are guaranteed to enliven and exhilarate all in attendance.

Walking between stages builds excitement – the unknown of what senses will be immersed next and what genre of music will be on offer. Around the corner, glittering figures in white command the attention of onlookers. Delivering the important message of sustainability through a unique, creative narrative, students from the drama department stand out in spectacular costumes from clouds, trees, toadstools, and a comedic pair rowing around the venue in a dingy.

The slow pace of the Water stage offers a welcome break from the crowds. A more intimate and relaxing experience, the reclining cinema seats make the serene acoustic sets an opportunity to relax and rejuvenate.

Downstairs, the Waiting Room is now the Earth stage, showcasing young people’s performances through Sound Progression. It is consistently a struggle to enter due to the horde of fans, but it’s easy to understand why with outstanding music from artists such as Dagrau Tan. The four-piece band’s calming, indie-rock melodies and pure vocals offer a hint of grunge. With such a professional sound, it’s astonishing to find out that the group are just 14 and 15 years old.

Like a child in a sweet shop, it’s difficult to pick an element. Returning to the Fire stage, grunge punk trio, Terrapins burst out with incomparable energy and angst that shocks the system. This band are one to watch. Not easily forgettable, boy can Izzy wail!

Impacting the crowd with hard-hitting lyrics and ruthless beats, Minas dominates the stage next, rapping with rage and truth to empower and provoke the voracious mob. 

The passion of Sage Todz is unmatched, as the fired-up fans are ready for his unique performance incorporating the Welsh language in a fresh take on bilingual fusion. A taste of Hiraeth amongst rap, the perfect pronunciation is a feat alone; but the warmth and zest that Todz brings to the stage is incomparable.

Erupting onto the stage with more stamina than an Olympic athlete, grime artist, Lady Leshurr does not disappoint her mass of adoring fans. Despite being just 5ft, Leshurr is a force to be reckoned with and delivers her performance with a combination of ferocity and humour. Although a Brummie, tonight she is queen of this Welsh venue and rules with a combination of rhyming prowess and tact. Graciously thanking the crowd as she was able to buy her mum a house from the sale of her music, she is the kind of down-to-earth star that we need to tell us to brush our teeth.

And with that, the night, unfortunately, comes to an end. Roll on Immersed 2024!

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