Big headline acts drew the Scottish festival crowds to Glasgow, where they found a city-break vibe replacing their usual country camping getaway. And the delighted promoter’s verdict was to stage it again next year
There were some strange signs and portents ahead of the inaugural TRNSMT festival in Glasgow. Just days before the three-day event launched, a Green Day gig at Bellahouston Park also in the city – a similarly large-scale outdoor enterprise, albeit from a different promoter – was cancelled at the very last minute. Then there was the absurd (and swiftly discredited) rumour that the Arctic Monkeys would play a “secret” set after Friday-night headliners Radiohead. In picturesque Glasgow Green in the heart of the city, however, TRNSMT unravelled on schedule and as planned. Even the weather stayed, for the most part, high and dry.
In its first year, this vowel-free upstart found itself under particular scrutiny because it had co-opted what would traditionally be T in the Park’s big July weekend in the Scottish festival calendar. During its imperial phase at the Balado airfield in Perthshire, T in the Park could sell tens of thousands of tickets before the lineup was even announced. In recent years, however, the festival’s reputation as cultural flag-bearer and teen rite-of-passage took a series of knocks. The move to a smaller, hillier site in Strathallan in 2015 was marred by grim weather and logistical failures that left buses ferrying punters off site stranded for hours. In 2016, the Strathallan capacity was reduced by 15,000 to 70,000 to try and improve things. But crime reports from the site made for alarming reading, including tales of brawls and a stolen cash machine; there were also three drug-related deaths.