Walking into the first ever TRNSMT festival on Friday 7th July, no one knew quite what to expect. Marketed as higher end than a typical festival, with street food, cocktails and a VIP piano bar, would it have the same fun factor?
T in the Park is very much a rite of passage for every Scottish teenager and has become an institution in the country. So reactions were mixed when it was announced that 2017 would be the first year since 1994 that TITP would not be taking place. The past few years of T were rocky, with the number of complaints rising each summer, so for some the break was welcome, but loyal visitors couldn’t face a year without the iconic festival. To take its place, organisers DF Concerts put on TRNSMT festival on the same weekend and in the much more central location of Glasgow Green.
Starting off on the King Tut’s stage, local favourites The Vegan Leather pulled in a substantial early crowd with their art pop sound. Gianluca Bernacchi and Marie Duncan’s vocals work brilliantly together and there’s always a sense of fun in everything they do. Today was no exception as they played a solid set without taking themselves too seriously – which is very important when it comes to getting Scottish fans on board.
Over on the main stage, it’s undeniable that Rag N Bone Man has a hell of a lot of vocal talent. His soulful voice is just as impressive live as it is on record, but he just doesn’t feel like a festival act. Whilst his hit singles like ‘Human’ and ‘Skin’ got the crowd singing along, the rest of the set fell flat and delivered little excitement.
In contrast, with a burst of colour and sparkle, Be Charlotte brought her unique blend of electro and hip hop, as well as “damn good vibes” to the King Tut’s stage. Dancing around the stage, she looked perfectly at home and effortlessly encouraged the crowd to dance along with her. Even her drum falling to the floor while she was playing it didn’t shake her, and the large crowd stayed for the full set. With her debut EP set to be released later this year (and an upcoming interview here on GIGsoup) she’s definitely one to watch.
LA-based Saint Motel’s groovy pop perfectly soundtracked the emerging sun and ramped up the party atmosphere. That incredibly catchy brass section on ‘My Type’ provided a glorious opportunity for dancing and A/J Jackson proved he’s every bit the frontman. Their super-confident performance did feel a little cringey and very American in places, which stopped the crowd from fully warming to them, but you just can’t argue with those catchy tunes.
London Grammar were similar to Rag N Bone Man in the sense that the crowd seemed too rowdy for them. The sun had just come out and everyone was ready to have a good dance while drinking overpriced pints – they weren’t in the mood to sway wistfully for an hour. Their atmospheric sound was beautiful and Hannah Reid’s acapella performance of ‘Rooting For You’ was stunning, but it just wasn’t what the crowd wanted.
Louis Berry brought a ton of confidence and swagger to the King Tut’s stage. Always keeping it real and down to earth, he loves to perform and the crowd loved to watch him. ’25 Reasons’ and ‘She Wants Me’ went down particularly well and showed off his impressive vocals as well as an addictive energy. A member of the crowd was overheard at the end of the set: “Never heard of that Scouse lad but he was class!” and that felt indicative of the overall impression of him. His impressive run of European festivals this summer is really getting his name out there ahead of his debut album release, which looks set to thrust him firmly on to everyone’s radar.
Closing the same stage were Honne, and while they did get people dancing, they had much less impact than the stage’s earlier acts. Recent tracks like ‘Just Dance’ and ‘Someone That Loves You’ were highlights of the set but overall the duo produce inoffensive electro pop that wouldn’t make anyone rush home to check them out.
What can be said about Radiohead? Their fans truly love them and view their sets like a religious experience, so they were amazed and couldn’t stop talking about how much they loved the performance. But what about everyone else? The crowd were flagging in the middle of the mammoth two and a half hour set, dutifully waiting to hear ‘Karma Police’ in the encore. ‘Creep’ didn’t make its way into the set list, which was unsurprising, but still disappointing. Thom Yorke did little to keep the tired drunks involved. There was almost no audience interaction, perhaps partly because of the hostility surrounding their Tel Aviv show. Some members of the crowd held up Palestinian flags, prompting Yorke to mutter, “some fucking people”. Nonetheless, ‘Karma Police’ had an impressive impact, with its lyrics still being sung after the band left the stage and the crowd funnelled out of the park.
The main stage of TRNSMT got off to a bit of a slow start before absolutely going off over the rest of the weekend. The King Tut’s stage was definitely the place to be on Friday, with an impressive selection of smaller acts from Scotland and beyond. The atmosphere of the day was upbeat but you could feel the anticipation building for the rest of the festival. One of the things that stood out the most was how positive the whole site felt and the distinct lack of trouble. T in the Park was plagued by drug problems amongst a whole host of other issues in its last few years, so giving it a break was a great idea, with TRNSMT providing an ideal replacement for the time being.
The festival has just been confirmed for the same weekend next year, with early bird tickets available now.