150,000 music fans descended on Glasgow Green this weekend for another unforgettable three days of live music at a sold-out TRNSMT Festival. Following the news on Friday morning that we had all suspected, T in the Park is no more, the third hugely successful edition of TRNSMT was all the confirmation we needed that the inner-city event is no longer just a placeholder for Scotland’s biggest music festival but has taken over the mantle with aplomb.
Boasting one of its most eclectic lineups to date, TRNSMT lucked out once again for the third year in a row with glorious sunshine contributing to the all-round good vibes of the weekend. The opening day featured a varied line-up that catered towards the younger generation with hordes of neon-clad giddy teenagers enjoying a vibrant amalgamation of grime, hip-hop, pop, indie and more.
New for TRNSMT 2019 was the introduction of the highly publicised Queen Tut’s Stage, nestled in a chilled out zone in the middle of the site, and featuring a strong line-up of up and coming female talent from all over Scotland. Showcasing a vast array of contemporary genres and styles, the stage not only functioned as a chill out area for sun worshippers and those looking to escape the busy crowds but also as a platform for some real talents like Lauren Spiteri, CRYSTAL, Lunir and more. Scarlett Randle was handed the duty of opening the stage early on Friday and she did so in typically mesmerising and charismatic fashion. By opening with an exuberant cover of ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’, she certainly piqued the interest of the glittery crowds nearby before going onto deliver a set that was as powerful and spellbinding as it was playful and humorous. We can’t wait to hear set closer ‘Downtown’ in all its fully-fledged recorded glory.
Elsewhere, fellow Tenement Trail alumni The Big Moon made their eagerly anticipated return to Glasgow after a quiet few months. Having spent large parts of 2019 in the studio, they treated the sparse yet enthusiastic crowd to some brand new material aswell as a number of familiar hits from their Mercury Prize nominated album Love In the 4th Dimension. Full of the infectious camaraderie that we’ve come to know and love from the group, they certainly seem to have ramped up their raw indie-pop sound into something bolder and more focused in their time away.
The rest of the day saw a spirited set from a confident AJ Tracey, euphoric electronic pop from Years & Years and a crowd-pleasing set from the all-conquering Gerry Cinnamon who enjoyed one of the biggest crowds of the weekend and looked genuinely bowled over as his words were echoed by the thousands of devoted fans who crammed the Main Stage.
Grime no longer exists in the underground and it goes without saying that it was a massive coup for the festival to have man of the moment Stormzy as their Friday night headliner. Arriving just a couple of weeks after his historic, career-defining set at Glastonbury, Stormzy has ascended to a whole new level of fame since that set at Worthy Farm. Clearly brimming with confidence, he had the crowd in the palm of his hand from the moment he bound onto the stage. And while the set didn’t have all the bells and whistles of that attention-grabbing show a couple of weeks ago, the liberal use of fireworks and flames ensured it was a truly headline-worthy set from an artist who is very much at the top of the game.
“F***in’ hell, I knew this show was gonna be crazy” he said, seemingly astonished by the response he received from the TRNSMT crowd. Very much in the mood for a party, his energy was infectious throughout, continually hyping the crowd with material from his number one album ‘Gang Signs & Prayer’ aswell as hugely popular new offerings ‘Crown’ and ‘Vossi Bop’, the latter of which he used to orchestrate a massive ‘F*** Boris!’ chant from the crowd. Its Stormzy’s lyrics that lend his music real weight though; he is an artist who has something to say about modern Britain and there’s a real sense of era-capturing tension that is palpable in his words. There were crowd-pleasing covers of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’ and Lewis Capaldi’s ‘Someone You Loved’ thrown in for good measure, the latter of which instilled a real sense of solidarity with the Scottish crowds, but his set rode a fierce grime energy that was impossible to contain. ‘Shut Up’ and ‘Big For Your Boots’ were explosive before the set closed with a huge communal singalong of ‘Blinded By Your Grace Pt 2’ which was both life-affirming and euphoric as he was joined onstage by a gospel choir.
The sun shone once again on Day 2 of TRNSMT which had a strong focus on indie rock & roll. A rousing set by Sam Fender on the Main Stage confirmed his status as one of the UK’s brightest talents and anthems like ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ and ‘Dead Boys’ certainly did enough to suggest that next time he appears at TRNSMT it’ll be to take on a much bigger slot.
From the moment you arrived at Glasgow Green though, it was clear from the number of t-shirts on show that The Snuts were one of the main draws of the day for the predominantly young audience. Their rise from the King Tut’s Stage to the Main Stage in the short space of a year has seen them follow in the footsteps of Gerry Cinnamon and Lewis Capaldi; the only other Scottish artists to have achieved such a feat. Very much at home on the massive stage, the band rattled through one indie rock anthem after another, including latest single ‘All Your Friends’ which was treated like an old favourite by a euphoric crowd who lapped up every minute. Bodies were thrown on shoulders and arms held aloft in what felt like a real milestone moment for the recent Parlophone signees.
As they left the stage at 2pm, chaos ensued as throngs of young people darted through the crowds in an attempt to reach the other end of the site in time to see Glasgow punks The Dunts take to the King Tut’s stage. Much like their Bathgate counterparts, ferociously fast-paced punk anthems like ‘Bad Decisions’, ‘Ride the Wave’ and an unexpected cover of OutKast’s ‘Hey Ya’ sent the hometown crowd into a frenzy. And as they tore through their set with the confidence and vigour, there was a real sense of pride in a band who have gone from playing some of Glasgow’s most intimate venues to the nation’s biggest festival thanks to their own hard work and irrepressible spirit and we can’t help but feel that they could be the next act to graduate to the big stage.
While Sigrid delivered euphoric pop perfection over at the Main Stage, the punk assault continued over at the King Tut’s Stage where buzz band of the year Fontaines DC performed a powerful set full of material from their critically acclaimed debut album Dogrel. An album which has already been touted for end of year lists, their live show certainly lived up to all expectations and packed a proper punch. Raw, relentless and full of swagger, frontman Grian Chatten paced the stage, perpetually in motion; his unmistakably Irish voice bellowed over pulsating basslines and sharp guitar lines in what was undoubtedly one of the most visceral live shows of the day.
They were a hard act to follow but Jade Bird delivered her rollicking country romp with style before it was time to head over to the Queen Tut’s stage to catch an incendiary display from Glasgow outfit Crystal. Attracting one of the biggest and most receptive crowds of the weekend at the grassroots stage, their raw, grungy anthems went down a storm and incited chaos in the crowd. With more live shows under their belt, it’s clear that their growing experience has paid off; from their thumping riffs to their effortless melodies to Anna Shield’s formidable presence front of stage.
However, after a fine day for emerging talent, it was left to a pair of experienced artists to bring Day 2 to a rousing finale. With the sun beating down on Glasgow Green, Richard Ashcroft brought real rock & roll swagger to the Main Stage. Not only did his Barrowlands t-shirts go down a storm with fans but he knew exactly what they were after, peppering his set with Verve classics ‘Sonnet’, ‘Lucky Man’, ‘The Drug’s Don’t Work’ and ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ which all ignited mass singalongs. “This is the greatest music stage in the world, with the best fans in the world” he said
Now seasoned festival headliners, Catfish & the Bottlemen have played many gigs in Glasgow over the years but perhaps none as big as the one on Saturday night. After Stormzy’s headline set the night before, their anthemic brand of rock & roll felt a tad one-dimensional but it certainly energised the field. Bodies were thrown on shoulders and coloured flares held aloft as they rattled through one thunderous, crowd-pleasing hit after another, even throwing in the appropriately titled ‘Glasgow’ for good measure.
The third and final day of TRNSMT got off to a thunderous start thanks to The Amazons. Two years after appearing on the King Tut’s Stage in the festival’s opening year, they returned to open the Main Stage with a set that certainly blew the cobwebs away. Having recently released their more intense and heavier second album ‘Future Dust’, their set flitted between soaring, heartfelt anthems and thunderous Royal Blood-like riffage.
Sea Girls gave Glasgow a taste of what’s to come at their set at Tenement Trail later this year over at the King Tut’s stage. A band who are destined for big things, frontman Henry Camamile owned the stage, wearing an eye-catching red suit as he orchestrated big singalongs and pogo-jumping from the crowd, at times going down to join his adoring fans. Brimming with enthusiasm, big choruses and infectious melodies, the band will be a must-see at our inner-city festival in September.
The rest of the day was dominated by noughties indie acts who have enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent months. Ten years on from the release of their debut, few would have predicted that The Wombats would still be tearing it up on festival main stages but that is exactly what they were doing on Sunday. Massive tunes like ‘Moving to New York’, ‘Techno Fan’ and ‘Let’s Dance to Joy Division’ incited mass singalongs and saw colourful flares go off all around. They’ve clear struck a chord with a new generation of indie fans who sang along to every word while material from 2018’s ‘Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life’ proved that they still know their way around a hook or two.
The Kooks are another act who have benefited from the noughties indie renaissance. Not quite as exuberant as their predecessors, their new material got a more lukewarm reaction but cuts from debut album Inside In Inside Out have proved timeless, particularly the sunny ‘Seaside’, ‘She Moves In Our Own Way’ and ‘Naïve’ which received the singalong treatment.
Over on the King Tut’s stage, Mystery Jets were the surprise package of the day. Unlike many of their contemporaries, the band have continued to experiment and take their sound into new and exciting territories with each album; from the vibrant, off-kilter jumble of electro and indie on ‘Twenty One’ to the more buffed up ‘Serotonin’ to the dust-stained Americana of ‘Radlands’. Predictably ‘Young Love’ and ‘Two Doors Down’ were their biggest hitters but the band demonstrated their songwriting nous with the widescreen ‘Bubblegum’ and the revelation of some new material. A joyously buoyant set that complemented the sunny weather.
Lewis Capaldi was the name which dominated conversation on the festival’s final day though. Stepping in after Snow Patrol’s enforced cancellation, it’s no coincidence that the Sunday completely sold out within hours of Capaldi’s announcement. Making his third appearance at the festival in as many years, the singer-songwriter from Bathgate received a hero’s reception as he took to the stage to George Bowie’s ‘Bits n Pieces’, donning a Chewbacca mask in reference to his ongoing feud with Noel Gallagher. ‘Grace’ was the perfect euphoric opener while ‘Someone You Loved’, ‘Bruises’ and more received gigantic singalongs from one of the biggest crowds TRNSMT has ever seen. Every track from his chart-topping debut ‘Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent’ were met with waves of approval and while it was clear that his heart-wrenching power ballads have really struck a chord with people, it’s Capaldi’s self-deprecating patter and humour that have really reinforced his mass appeal. A set which provoked tears, laughter and an overwhelming sense of pride in the hometown crowd, Lewis Capaldi has risen to a whole new level of fame since he last appeared at TRNSMT and this was a headline-worthy set that confirmed his status as the UK’s biggest pop star.
George Ezra was given the unenviable task of following the hometown hero and while he couldn’t compete with Capaldi in the charisma stakes, he certainly had the tunes to back up his headlining status. Performing hooky pop songs like ‘Budapest’, ‘Shotgun’ and the ridiculously catchy ‘Paradise’, it was a joyous end to one of the finest weekends of the year.