IN the five years since its inception, TRNSMT Festival has undoubtedly cemented itself as Scotland’s most popular and well-attended outdoor music festival – known for its raucous atmosphere, massive line-ups and youthful crowds. Returning to its home at Glasgow Green last weekend, pandemic anxiety largely at ease, 2022 felt like a return to its true self.

With an absolutely stacked line-up – featuring some of the biggest names in pop, rock and indie, as well as a new post-lockdown wave of artists – there was an air of gleeful chaos as 150,000 fans descended on the Green for three days of live music.

On the Main Stage, we were greeted by some familiar faces – many of which have grown and evolved with the festival itself – the likes of Dylan John Thomas and The Snuts making Main Stage debuts and Lewis Capaldi, pop ballad superstar, headlining the Sunday night. His ascent to headliner status can be traced back to the hype trail that is the King Tut’s stage – a journey which The Snuts also seem destined for if their Saturday performance was anything to go by.

The Glasgow Green site was instantly familiar – the King Tut’s stage offering a mix of breakthrough names and those already assaulting the charts, while the River Stage was decked out with the finest new up and comers, particularly local talent. Notably, it was well attended all weekend – indicating a genuine thirst for new music that can only be a good thing for the future of TRNSMT.

It was there where we kicked our weekend off with the incendiary punk assault of Dead Pony – in fact, their heavy riffs and danceable grooves pulled such a punch that they could be heard as far as the West Brewery entrance. Anna Shields ever the magnetic frontwoman, their recent time on the road has transformed them into a ferociously tight and captivating live outfit.

Over on the Main Stage, Nile Rodgers & Chic delivered a sermon in positivity and feel-good funk. Brimming with performer’s instinct, they pulled from Rodgers’ iconic back catalogue with ease – delivering the likes of ‘Get Lucky’, ‘We Are Family’, ‘Everybody Dance’ and ‘Material Girl’ to name a few highlights. A classic festival performance, TRNSMT responded with what they group said was their first ever mosh pit.

After a triumphant display at last year’s festival, Sam Fender returned with hit-packed set. Whether it was the horizontal rain, the wind-affected speakers or the generally chatty crowd, the set didn’t seem to pack its usual emotional punch – however, it didn’t seem to stop the die-hards at the front whose moshing required intervention on two separate occasions. Speaking of his upbringing in Scotland a chant of ‘F*** the Tories’ did go down well – before he performed the song they had helped inspire – ‘Seventeen Going Under’. With the crowd in full throng, it’s fair to say the soaring Springstreen-esque anthem hits hard, wherever it calls home.

Friday night though was all about Paolo Nutini. Returning for his first Glasgow show in nearly ten years, anticipation was high. Given a hero’s reception as he strode onstage, unable to contain his grin, he opened his set with a hair-raising howl – the introduction to ‘Aftermath’. Having secured his latest UK number 1 for ‘Last Night in the Bittersweet’ just hours earlier, he gave the new material the attention it deserved – refusing to play the earnest pop card and stuffing his 90-minute set with the loose-limbed, expansive songs of his new record. Moving from one kaleidoscopic number to the next, ‘Lose It’ came to life with fierce bravado, while ‘Acid Eyes’ was a crowd favourite. Even earlier songs like were given a rocky revamp, ‘Jenny Don’t Be Hasty’ sliding into ‘Teenage Kicks’ and then an almost unrecognisable ‘New Shoes’. However, for those there to see the classics, an acoustic take on ‘Take Streets’ went down a treat, while a cover of ‘Caledonia’ started a mass singalong. It was left to ‘Iron Sky’ and ‘Shine A Light’ to see the set out in towering fashion – complete with strobes and dry ice, it was a triumphant headline set and a reminder that Paolo Nutini is an artist who plays entirely by his own rules.

The sun came out on Saturday as youngsters began to flood the field, gleefully rubbing shoulders with vibrant outfits, admirable bravado and a desire to dance the day away. Bemz kicked things off on the River Stage with a high-energy set featuring guests ID, Washington and Sean Focus. Brimming with showmanship and charisma, he brought the crowd to their feet, exhibiting exactly why he was named BBC Introducing Scottish Act of the Year not too long ago. Released just a day prior, the garage-flecked ‘Zidane’ received the biggest reaction in his hugely impressive half-hour slot.

Elsewhere, Griff held  the crowd with her heartbreak pop bangers like ‘Black Hole’, ‘One Foot In Front of the Other’ and ‘One Night’, before KennyHoopla incited a frenzy at the King Tut’s stage. The pop-punk hero bounded across the stage in unstoppable fashion, letting his frustration out in a frenzied mash of indie, punk and emo, showing exactly why he’s currently one of the best live performers around.

Over on the Main Stage, Wet Leg replaced the absent Years & Years. Arguably one of the most talked about bands of the year after the release of their self-titled debut album, their bump to the bigger stage proved a good move – album favourites ‘Chaise Longue’ and ‘Wet Dream’ hollered in unison by the sun-kissed crowd.

Undoubtedly, one of the performances of the day came from Self Esteem. Backed by a formidable trio of singers and dancers, her set was empowering and triumphant. With flawless choreography and a defiant punk spirit, she was utterly magnetic – delivering hook after hook and singalong moments in ‘Prioritise Pleasure’ and ‘I Do This All the Time’. Thanking the crowd for their involvement, the dancing was in full flow by set closer ‘The Best’.

Shortly afterwards, The Snuts were given a hero’s welcome on the Main Stage. Having been forced to pull out last year due to covid, it was a special moment – looking every inch the part as they strode on and tore into ‘The Rodeo’. With the sun beating down, they gave the crowd exactly what they wanted – and they reciprocated with flares in the air and mass singalongs. Guests Rachel Chinouriri and Bemz join for ‘Elephants’ and ‘End of the Road’, while their avid fans lapped up the swaggering beats of ‘Zuckerpunch’ and the more poignant ‘Somebody Loves You’ in equal measure.

Foals and Baby Strange delivered solid sets – the latter pulled from their recent second album ‘World Below’, showcasing their versatility and anthemic credentials with the likes of ‘Only Feel It When I’m With You’, ‘Midnight’ and old favourite ‘Pleasure City’.

Saturday’s headliner was The Strokes. Returning for their first Scottish show in over a decade, they delivered a setlist that would appease any diehard. Opening with ‘Is This It’ from their iconic debut, they offered a celebration of the old and new – splicing tracks from their 2020 ‘The New Abnormal’ album with old classics ‘Someday’, ‘Juicebox’, ‘Reptilia’ and more. Yes, sound issues did come into play, and Julian Casablancas did seem in a strangely antagonistic mood, but from our viewpoint, the power of their set was undeniable. Amidst the frontman’s frequent rambling and ‘Glasgow Children’s Choir’ comments, the songs stood aloft – their inclusion of ‘Last Nite’ a particular highlight. Having only played it three times this year, it was a rare moment that was appropriately reciprocated by the enthusiastic crowd.

On day three, the good weather held with a fresh batch of festival-goers ready to descend on the Green. Dylan John Thomas continued his rapid ascent with a high-energy set on the Main Stage – the crowd bouncing along to the likes of ‘Jenna’ and ‘Fever’. Following in the steps of mentor Gerry Cinnamon, there’s certainly more to come from the singer-songwriter.

The River Stage provided more glimpses into the future with London-based Dylan Fraser returning to his roots, his meaningful lyrics and dynamic Finneas-esque production style certainly caught the attention of many passive eyes.

Sigrid brought heaps of energy to the Main Stage, blowing the cobwebs away for those who needed it on day three. Delivering a pop-rock masterclass, she is supported by a killer live set-up with a band who take her sweet pop melodies and lean into her weightier songwriting – lending them real oomph. There’s no denying her stage presence is infectious and big anthems like ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ and ‘Strangers’ were faultless.

Right at home in Glasgow, DMA’s delivered the indie anthems – satisfying the bucket hat crowd with their iconic cover of ‘Believe’ by Cher. Over at the King Tuts stage, Gang of Youths exuded charisma. Armed with a larger-than-life sound, they were forever in motion, reinvigorating the crowd with their soaring anthems and magnetic command of the stage. A band who are all about sincerity and togetherness, the mass sing-along of ‘In The Wake Of Your Leave’ and the group exorcism of  closer ‘What Can I Do If The Fire Goes Out’ indicated that it was a feeling that was more than welcome.

Set of the day though would go to Wolf Alice. Currently on tour with Harry Styles, the band were at ease on the Main Stage – even if they had to win over certain disgruntled fans waiting on Lewis Capaldi. Backed by fantastic visuals, the four-piece seemed genuinely delighted to be there – orchestrating the crowd from the very first rowdy notes of ‘Smile’. Ellie Rowsell lived up to her growing status as rock icon on ‘Formidable Cool’, throwing herself to the ground with a goosebump-inducing howl, while ‘Bros’ was giddy and joyous. The chest-thumping crescendo of ‘How Can I Make It Ok?’ slid into the chaotic frenzy of ‘Play The Greatest Hits’, while the band saved their biggest sentimental moments for the end – moving ballad ‘The Last Man On The Earth’ and the swooning love story that is ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’.

It was left to TRNSMT’s favourite son Lewis Capaldi to bring things to a triumphant close. Marking his fourth appearance at the festival, his ascent has been charted at TRNSMT since its inception in 2017 – from modest beginnings on the King Tut’s stage to where he is now. Despite having no new music since his last showing in 2019 – a fact he wasn’t shy to joke about – each song from his record-breaking debut ‘Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent’ was met with waves of approval from the home crowd. And despite the often melancholy nature of his songs, his renowned deprecating humour in between each songs kept the crowd in the palm of his hand. Gifting them with an impromptu rendition of ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘Somebody You Loved’ rang around the Green to mark the end of another triumphant year at TRNSMT.