If there’s one thing the Scottish hate, it’s the missed chance for a bloody great party. And with the country’s legendary T In The Park taking a year out in 2017, heckles were well and truly raised. In stepped TRNSMT, however, to plug the gap in the festival calendar north of the wall with three days of mayhem right in the centre of Glasgow. Leaning heavily on the likes of ever-grey Oxfordshire alt. miserabilists Radiohead (five boxes of hankies out of five, if you’re so inclined) and Leicester indie-louts Kasabian (we’ll call it four chucked-beers), it’s not going to be giving Download too much competition in the circle-pit stakes any time soon. Dodging the portaloos and puddles of sick on Glasgow Green, though, there was still an awful lot to get our teeth into…
Twin Atlantic’s Utterly Brilliant Homecoming
“Make some noise,” grins Sam McTrusty, “if you don’t give a f*ck about the rain!” The Twin Atlantic frontman isn’t exactly shocked by the Scottish weather, of course. In fact, he could barely be more at home at TRNSMT if the festival was being run out of his front room. Greeted by an absolutely enormous crowd, their Sunday afternoon slot seems laughably insufficient. They respond accordingly, owning the stage like headliners and setting a bar that only the mighty Biffy-fucking-Clyro stand a chance of reaching. Streamer Cannons. Confetti showers. Yes I Was Drunk raising the goosebumps. Sam chucking himself headlong into the crowd during a riotous No Sleep. Free drawing the breath from our lungs. Heart & Soul sending us off on an endorphin-rush high. Expect the local lads to be inhabiting the festival’s uppermost echelons next time they attend.
Vukovi Dazzling Through The Drizzle On Sunday’s Second Stage
Dressed as some sort of wonderful, shimmering pop-rock mermaid, Vukovi singer Janine Shilstone is an absolute vision taking to the King Tuts’ stage on a grey Sunday morning. Her band aren’t half-bad, either. Hailing from Troon, just down the Ayrshire coast, Scot-rock’s brightest new hopes mightn’t be able to match Twin or Biffy in terms of back-catalogue or sheer impact just yet, but from the breathtaking electro-rock of Weirdo through to the all-cylinders Animal, to a brilliantly on-the-mark Target Practice (“These are beer-tokens!” teases Janine firing a Vukovi currency-gun into the crowd) they’re undeniably on their way.
Circa Waves Glittering In The Saturday Sun
Say what you will about Circa Waves, but they absolutely know how to seize an opportunity when it’s presented to them. The chances of sunshine in Glasgow are approximately 1000-1, and with the Gods smiling on a glorious Saturday afternoon the Liverpudlian rockers don’t waste a second getting a none-more-up-for-it faithful onside. Opening at their heaviest with a propulsive Wake Up, washing through a heart-lifting Stuck and finishing with the shimmering guitar lines and titanic hooks of a stating-the-bleeding-obvious T-Shirt Weather they absolutely nail it this afternoon.
The LaFontaintes Confirming That Rap Rock Isn’t Dead
“Wee man!” LaFontaines mainman Kerr Okan calls to a well-pre-teen youngster having a ball up up on shoulders, “Have you ever been to a gig before? Because it’ll never be as good as this, I promise you!” The Motherwell hip-hop-rockers certainly don’t lack for self-confidence. It’s with good reason, too. Returning from a raucous Download showing to headline TRNSMT’s second stage, their enthusiasm is maxed-out, with a crowd sprawling well out of eyeshot. Driven-on by Kerr’s immense charisma, songwriting could easily become a secondary consideration. But the cleverly interwoven vocal-interplay with bassist John Gerard running through tracks like King, Release The Hounds and the climactic Under The Storm ensures they more than pull their own weight. “How’s the circle[-pit] situation?” grins the frontman. “They threatened they’d stop the show for that sh*t. I wonder what’d happen if we started another one…” Superb stuff.
The Amazons Gunning For Indie Rock Glory
Originating from Reading suburbs at the other end of the country, there’s an impressive amount of buzz for The Amazons before they take the stage as the rain clouds really descend on Sunday. Brilliantly, they live up to it. On record, there’s a bit of a strange incongruity between the driving guitar-work of tracks like Ulraviolet or Black Magic and their far-softer other material. In the live arena, it’s far less of a problem, with the likes of Raindrops and Junk Food Forever finding far more crunch.
The 1975’s Matt Healy Mixing Booze And Politics To Stirring Effect
Matt Healy is having a very good time tonight. It’s never expressly apparent whether he’s gone ahead and emptied his rider before coming onstage or is just really, really, really high on life, but – between his smeared makeup, ‘taps-aff’ attitude and slightly glazed swagger – it’s a possibility someone would’ve tried to usher him towards welfare had he been on the other side of the barrier. “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your favourite band!” he announces directly into camera with his jacket only half-discarded, “It’s The 1975!” Spilling gleefully into dance-tastic opener Love Me there’s absolutely no doubt the Manchester rockers’ are on the same wavelength as their audience. Even still, it’s Matt’s cheekily righteous political grandstanding – leading a resounding “CORBYN!” chant and rainbow-flag, Pride-weekend salute to the LGBT community – that really benchmark their class.
Biffy Clyro Proving – Yet Again – Why They’re The Best Festival Headliner In The UK
“Thanks for not kicking me out of Scotland for wearing sequined trousers,” grins Simon Neil just into the Ayrshire trio’s Sunday night, festival-closing headline set. As if anyone in 200 miles would lift a hand to these national treasures. Playing their third enormous show with Ellipsis production in the city in the space of 11 months, there are a few wondering beforehand if Glasgow might be in danger of suffering Biffy-fatigue. They needn’t have worried. Supercharged on home-country advantage, they deliver a set that might even be a cut above those which laid to waste Download and Glastonbury over the past few weekends. From Wolves Of Winter’s defiant growl through the daring ambience of Re-Arrange through a turn-back-the-clock There’s No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake to the inevitable, pyro-strewn Stingin’ Belle, these are the sounds of a band on top of their game. “Not to blow smoke up your balls, but this is the best show we’ve ever played!” grins Simon, visibly humbled by the unchained adulation on show. And, though this writer would contend The Biff have had even greater nights than this (T In The Park 2014 and Hogmanay 2016 will, surely, never be topped), who are we to question Britain’s greatest band?
Words: Sam Law
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This Vulgar Display Of Power-themed T-shirt from Pantera will get the message across to those struggling with the concept of social distancing.