I’ll be honest. When the first ever wave of acts for TRNSMT festival was announced I was blown away. It was the first time a festival arrived pretty much out of the blue and seemed ‘worth’ going to.
Radiohead, Kasabian and Biffy Clyro for the measly sum of £150 with no camping was affordable. The undercard of The 1975, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Stormzy and a load of other £25+ bands was impressive.
The only issue was, as crazy as it sounds, perhaps TRNSMT peaked too early. Of course you have to have an instant impact to a) gain enough interest that people will actually come, but perhaps more importantly b) make the festival a household name so people will be desperate to attend for years to come. When you set your stall out with three of the most iconic names in British music you run the risk of fans ‘expecting’ the line-up to improve as the years go on.
Last year, in the second edition of TRNSMT fans were given not only one weekend – but two weekends of music at Glasgow Green. On the surface this sounds like it had developed. Wrong. Sadly, the acts offered came nowhere near those that had played the previous year. You could argue that Arctic Monkeys are one of the world’s biggest acts. I mean, yes that is true, but two months after TRNSMT they would embark on a nationwide headline tour via various European festival headline sets including Mad Cool and Primavera Sound. Alex Turner hadn’t ventured to Scotland since he and Miles Kane took The Last Shadow Puppets to T in the Park so there was obvious pulling power, but nothing about their TRNSMT gig (in my opinion) was actually THAT exciting.
Other headliners came in the form of The Killers, Stereophonics and Liam Gallagher – who, to be honest, should be nowhere near the top of festival line-ups. They all have hits. They all have incredibly loyal fan bases. But realistically none of them have been relevant for a very long time. As a festival organiser you obviously have to think of who will shift tickets and these three tick that box, but there must be a thought of TRNSMT having the potential to be a new and exciting festival for people that didn’t want the ordinary. This theory was dissolved when The Darkness, Jessie J and The Script were randomly dotted around the poster.
Could it be a case of prematurely running out of ideas? Could it be a case of playing it safe to ensure tickets are sold in favour of offering something new? It is probably a combination of both – especially considering that their 2019 announcement has been beaten by the news of Summer Nights at the Bandstand at Kelvingrove Park.
Summer Nights … have announced the likes of The National, Suede and Father John Misty (to name just three) already and it is fair to say that a lot of people will be leaning closer to that than TRNSMT.
I have said before that TRNSMT are fully able to claw it back and make July their month. With the evident decline in quality of festivals such as Reading and Leeds, festival organiser must be opportunistic and poach those who have become disillusioned by seeing the same regurgitated line-ups year in year out.
But who could realistically headline the third instalment and put the excitement back into Scottish festivals?
2019 sees the return of icons Ian Brown and Doves – these combined with someone with headline status, for example Noel Gallagher‘s High Flying Birds, would make sense. Not the most exciting day of music, let’s be honest, but one that would re-draw the Kasabian and Liam Gallagher crowds of yesteryear. The Stone Roses have always went down a treat in Scotland with recent(ish) shows at T in the Park and Hampden Park, and Ian Brown in his own right always gets decent crowds, so that would make sense. Doves’ comeback announcement went stale when instead of an intimate tour celebrating the classics they announced a Royal Albert Hall show alongside loads of support slots with NGHFB so from a promoter/organiser point of view it might be a good idea to bill them together at Glasgow Green.
Another potential headliner is Stormzy. Already confirmed at Glastonbury‘s first headliner, he is playing a run of various shows so a second visit to TRNSMT is definitely doable. When playing a mid-afternoon slot at TRNSMT 2017 a huge audience gathered at the main stage to catch a glimpse. Still with only one album (the platinum certified Gang Signs and Prayer) out he has escalated to the top of festivals so it would be fitting for TRNSMT to host his first big Scotland outdoor event. Keeping on the ‘urban’ theme we could see The Streets play on Stormzy‘s undercard. Now that Mike Skinner and co. have announced various festivals I would be surprised if they don’t make the trip above the border – especially after a stellar headline show at O2 Academy Glasgow earlier this year.
Although TRNSMT 2018 didn’t feature anyone particularly ‘heavy,’ Biffy Clyro‘s 2017 rain-laden performance will go down in history as one of their best ever. There is certainly a place for ‘heavier’ acts, so the likes of Royal Blood and Bring Me the Horizon could captain a rock-based ship this summer. There is a plethora of potential undercard acts such as Architects and Idles to give an all round brilliant day of music that would be the equivalent of what All Points East are offering in London this summer.
Hopefully an announcement is made soon and fingers crossed the headliners are as appealing as 2017.