In true Scottish style, the sun from the previous day had disappeared and the rain had returned with a vengeance. The majority of TRNSMT punters were soaked before they even made it through the gates to Glasgow Green, but their spirits weren’t dampened.
Storming on to the main stage first were The Strypes. Fresh from a UK tour and the release of their new album, the Irish boys were on top form and full of energy. Their enthusiasm is impressive, particularly that of bassist Pete O’Hanlon, who ran wildly across the stage and was a delight to watch. They are surprisingly sophisticated in their performance for such a young band and there’s no doubt they’ll be headlining festivals in the years to come.
Following them were The View, whose performance was not as impressive but their songs are almost able to speak for themselves. Scottish crowds always have a lot of love for the Dundee-based band and they made that clear as soon as they walked on stage. The love continued throughout the set with plenty of dancing and chanting, but it was in the final two songs that the band really shone. “Same Jeans” seems a world away from the music they’re making now, but it’s a reliable track to get even non-fans on board. Closing track “Superstar Tradesman” saw the band unleashing more energy and visibly enjoying the end of their set.
Keeping up the Scottish theme, fast-rising stars Vukovi were the highlight of Sunday’s King Tut’s stage. One of the only post-hardcore/pop punk style bands on the weekend’s lineup, they blew the crowd away with their heavy riffs and huge, melodic choruses. Janine Shilstone is a natural frontwoman with plenty of charisma and she seemed to find it difficult to actually stay on the stage, constantly getting up close and personal with her adoring audience. Unusually, the best songs fell in the middle of the set, with “La Di Da” and “Animal” causing a right ruckus in the rain.
Indie rockers Blossoms had a slow start but soon begun to prove their worth on the main stage. Frontman Tom Ogden done an excellent job of bringing everyone together for “My Favourite Room”. Asking the audience if anyone had recently been dumped, he singled out Michelle and changed the lyrics of the song to call out her ex Chris, after making everyone boo him. Cathartic for Michelle, most definitely, as everyone got behind the message and let Chris know how awful he (maybe) is. In a strange twist, the band somehow managed to get the whole crowd singing “Last Christmas” after that, for reasons still unknown. “Charlemagne” was a triumphant closer as the band brought an at-first-unsure crowd fully on board.
Twin Atlantic‘s set felt like a homecoming and the whole band were completely at ease on stage. They burst out with confetti cannons and their confidence only grew from there. Sam McTrusty was every bit the rock star, whilst still maintaining the humbleness that’s crucial for keeping Scottish audiences on side. More streamers were released during the massive “No Sleep”, which saw McTrusty diving into the crowd, and “Heart and Soul” provided a euphoric end to a thoroughly impressive performance.
The Jack Rocks tent was even more packed on the Sunday due to people seeking shelter from the rain, and they were treated to a brilliant set from Tijuana Bibles. Their captivating post-punk was something a bit different from what the other stages were offering and their risk of playing mainly unheard songs paid off. If their latest single “Pariah” is any indication of their upcoming album, it’ll be huge.
Matty Healy arrived on the main stage with the announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s your favourite band – The 1975!” As a frontman he is over-the-top, cocky and fearless. It’s ridiculous and perfect at the same time, and either tedious or mesmerising depending on your personal feelings towards the band. His shirtless, smudged eyeliner, chain-smoking presence is a stark contrast to the rest of the band’s suited look and subdued performance, but they balance each other out. “Loving Someone” was dedicated to the LGBTQ community after a lengthy, passionate speech from Healy, rousing the crowd who kept dancing into “She’s American”. “Robbers” was stunning as always and “Sex” showed off the harder edge of the band which should really come out more often. Their extended set could easily have been a headliner and they proved that The 1975 are one of the most exciting British bands to hit the mainstream in recent years.
It could only be Biffy Clyro who closed the weekend, storming on stage with the confidence that comes with being at home. After apologising for being away for too long, they ripped through “Wolves of Winter” and the epic “Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies”. They are a band who are made to headline festivals, with a perfect mixture of anthemic choruses, thunderously heavy tracks and the slow ones that make you get your lighters (or phones) in the air. Their almost two-hour long set didn’t sag at any point – in fact it almost didn’t feel long enough as the crowd could definitely have handled more. The band could have too; their energy is unbeatable. “Black Chandelier” followed by “Friends and Enemies” was a highlight of the performance, as was the achingly beautiful (and not often played) “Folding Stars”. As the bagpipes played out the end of “Stingin’ Belle” and the fireworks went off, it was the most fitting end to the weekend.
TRNSMT done well to include plenty of Scottish bands during its first year, especially smaller ones who were opened up to a wider audience. Elsewhere, though, the lineup severely lacked diversity, which is an issue that must be addressed next year. A festival’s first year will always have some bumps in the road, but overall it was a well-organised weekend that proved a city centre festival with no camping can definitely work. Especially when the weekend gets rounded off with chants of “Biffy fucking Clyro!” long into the night.