TRNSMT FESTIVAL 2019 // GLASGOW GREEN, GLASGOW
TRNSMT Festival returns to Glasgow Green for its third year with headliners… Stormzy, Catfish & The Bottlemen and George Ezra alongside many more artists/bands.
As TRNSMT began for its third year on run up to the weekend, one particular feature of TRNSMT 2019 was musicians’ frequent comments in response to recent Noel Gallagher bravado. The Oasis brother labelled Scotland ‘like a third world country’ and called Scottish blow-up sensation Lewis Capaldi ‘Chewbacca.’ It’s a wonder what Scot Sara Macdonald thought of her husband’s remarks. The feud was sparked after Gallagher dropped a remark dismissing Capaldi who then retaliated by taking to the Glastonbury stage in an outfit specially put together especially for the mod rocker.
Another feature to TRNSMT was the Queen Tut’s Stage, set for female led groups. This stage shut down early each day but manged to keep busy each day with a variety of growing talented musicians. The Smirnoff Bar and Utilita Power Tree stages were included, where dance, techno and rave was being blasted. There was also some fun fair rides set up and plenty more toilets added to the site that last year in an effort to reduce hideous queuing times.
This year’s Friday line up certainly featured some massive names so it’s no wonder the night was a sold out. American Aminé really drew the crowds to the main stage for his pop-culture dripping performance in the initial part of the day. AJ Tracy’s hard garage was nailed. He performed with rumbling intensity and command. He drew a huge crowd and impressed his viewers.
Things weren’t all smooth sailing for Friday’s mainstage event. Years and Years’ performance did not impress. Their stage presence was as vibrant but Olly Alexander’s vocals were poor. The same could be said for the day’s main stage opener Mabel. She seems half asleep, although, when she performed ‘Finders Keepers’ she had hit her element.
Gerry Cinnamon’s set had been built up with so much anticipation that his name was being chanted constantly from the site’s opening to its closing. With what seemed like every ever attendee flocking over to see him, Cinnamon churned up bouncing version of his biggest tracks. He performed with a sense of urgency and didn’t seem as comfortable as he is known to be. New track ‘Canter’ was passionate and the crowd joined in whole-heartedly. Around the mid-section of his set he seemed to lose significant momentum which even ‘Discoland’ wasn’t enough to pull back. Perhaps the sweltering heat was affecting him.
King Tut’s Stage Powered by Utilita Energy was headlined by Example who also joked of Gallagher’s comment and sent out his praised Capaldi. Example played his “best of” and certainly put on a valiant effort except nothing seemed fresh about his set. It seemed exactly as he would have played the tracks as they were released and it was a bit stale. This stage’s best were R&B orchard, Mahalia, and grunge-pop group The Big Moon. These are both acts that take their sound and become it completely on stage.
The night’s headliner was grime prodigy Stormzy. Still buzzing from his critically acclaimed lead Glastonbury set just two weeks prior, the man dominated the stage and warmed the hearts of his audience with a killer set. Earlier, panic had spread among attendees when word got out that travel woes might prevent his appearance. Despite arriving late to perform, he bounded across the stage with the confidence of a lion. He knew his audience and complimented the Scots. He joked about the Noel Gallagher and Lewis Capaldi back and forth, showing his support for the local lad with a raw and tender cover of ‘Someone You Loved.’
Saturday was the day for the guitar fans. It was also the only day of the event not to be sold out.
The King Tut’s Stage was once again the place to catch the day’s best. Steve Mason set was quite shyly attended however the man seems on finer form than he has been in years. Irish rockers Fontaines DC are a band to sink your teeth into. Their clever punk has the relevant, exciting energy that Richard Ashcroft’s rehashing will never be able to muster.
A stunningly sweet set was played by Cavetown. This young man is still blossoming out as a musician but his humble sugary-sweet indie pop cloaked the crowd with a gentle delicacy. Let me tell you, TRNSMT was a hard place to find anything dainty at all but Cavetown was that fragility that touched all who watched him.
However, it was disappoint set from The Dunts who played early in the day at the King Tut’s Stage. They are a careless pop punk group but their sound often became a hot mess and in the TRNSMT setting they looked caught in the headlights and a bit blindsided.
Sigrid empowered her fans with her elegance that natural confidence. She radiated a natural warmth and a sincere smiles coloured her face throughout her entire set. It was incredibly refreshing to see a female star perform in what looks like a face bare of makeup but Sigrid embraces herself and, judging from the amount slap, a lot of TRNSMT attendees might benefit from taking a leaf out of Sigrid’s book.
Ex-Verve icon Richard Ashcroft came on to the stage in a t-shirt with his name on it and the name of infamous Glasgow gig venue The Barrowland Ballroom. A lot of his songs have such legendary status that simply the uplifting sound of their notes is enough to elate a listener. But the appeal is in the glory of the magnitude of the song and not in the performance. Ashcroft is no singer anymore (if he ever has been described as one). He sounded hoarse and slurred, and, with a polished indie swagger that gets boring fast, his performance didn’t transport like his music is known for doing.
Bastille put on one hell of a performance for their set. Every song contained so much theatre and frontman Dan Smith poured emotion into it. It was so strong in feeling that it raised concerns for his mental wellbeing.
Mainstage, the pièce de résistance, Catfish and the Bottlemen gathered a rambunctious crowd, riled up from a day filled with all sorts of shades of rock. They cracked out the hits with their mastered apathetic style but somehow their created chilling and, of course, the fans lapped it up.
Sunday cleared the way for a line-up of bright and emotional pop, with some odd balls thrown in to flavour the day. After two scorching days and a third one incoming, 3 day attenders looked sun-blushed and done-in as they queued to enter. A soft relax was needed after a heavy two days.
The Kooks performed a set list filled their most beloved tracks and it was so fitting with the weekend to hear songs like ‘Jackie Big T***’ and ‘Sofa Song.’ However, nothing really stands out from their 2018 album ‘Let’s Go Sunshine’ and when track from it were played the crowd clearly stared to lose interest. Another the set that didn’t quiet swimmingly was The Wombats as there sound didn’t project well. The crowd roared out the lyrics the set became a celebration of the music with aloud the terrible sound quality to be ignored more easily.
A forced alteration for the weekend’s line-up was through Jess Glynn’s drop out causing Aberdeenshire sensation Emeli Sandé to step in to the spot. If you know of Sandé, then you’ll surely know that she is an unbelievably talented singer and evocative, powerful songwriter. She looked amazing and sounded incredible.
Hip shakers, Circa Waves, tore it up with their headline show on the King Tut’s Stage. They are band that is best live and their TRNSMT set was dynamite. Mystery Jets and SWMRS are also groups to watch out for. SWMRS drummer, Joey Armstrong, is the son of Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong. The band really encouraged the crowd to mosh while their frontman threw himself about the stage like a true punk.
George Ezra was the night’s headliner and his big band experience was joyous but a slightly underwhelming way to end to the weekend. Ezra’s tracks are mellow and if they do pick up the pace, they never get the really exciting. Many fans spent their final hours at the Smirnoff Bar where DJ had been pounding out the block rave all day long, every day of TRNSMT.
It was Lewis Capaldi, who played before Ezra on the mainstage, who brought the biggest crowd and seemed to be the day’s essential performance. It was after Snow Patrol pulled out of the event and Capaldi was added to the line-up that tickets for the day became sparse before quickly selling out completely. With Gallagher’s words in his head, Capaldi donned a Chewbacca mask as he took to the stage and couldn’t help but bring the situation continuously. He bantered with the crowd about his pride in the Scottish dialect between solid eruptions of his emotional powerhouse tracks.
The event’s line up was well curated for each day. There was a lot of focus on flavour of the month acts – acts that would be described as having a history of longevity. It seemed as through acts booked were those suddenly catapulted to fame as opposed to a line-up heavy in acts with decades of history in the industry behind then. In of the space set-up, the variety in stages did add of lot of choice to the festival but, everywhere you looked, the place was swarmed with people. The site was too small for that amount of people and that amount stationary physical material.
It has to be said that the worst feature of TRNSMT 2019 was the attendees. An overwhelming majority of young teenage fans felt a sense of ownership of the land and felt as though they could wreck the place as they see fit. Egotistical and narcissistically entitled, fights punctuated the site. Rude groups of bleary or bulging eyed youths barged through crowds of the same. The vulgar speak rung through the air and those well past wrecked stumbled left, right, and centre. Every day, within the first hour of the gates opening, drunken, disorderly fans were already being dragged out by police. This is not a family friendly place or a place for the soft-hearted.
Many talented, unique acts performed standout sets at TRNSMT 2019 and the weather was unbeatable. However, TRNSMT is not an event to brag about, nor is one where you will attend and mingle in open, warm environment. Cramming what they in to such a small space is always going to create an air of unsafely. Then add those, ready to recreate TITP’s worst moment and you are asking for trouble.
TRNSMT has left two distinct thoughts in my mind. The first is – will it take multiple deaths of youths and a whole cashpoint theft before people start to pay attention with the risks people undertake when in events set up this way? The second is – could the future quite possibly be doomed?