As prophesied on a promising first day and a sweltering second, the heavens opened up for the third instalment of the inaugural TRNSMT. Fortunately, the rain is patchy for now, and The View (★★★) – basically a survey of power pop from 1973 – 1994 – are enough to compensate for the lack of sunshine. Later on, Clean Cut Kid (★★★★) show much of the same at King Tut’s, with a welcome dash of Fleetwood Mac melodies. But before that, 2017 Scottish Album of the Year nominees Vukovi (★★★★★) play grabbed-by-the-throat melodic post-hardcore. Blue-haired frontwoman Janine Shilstone holds dominion over the audience, charmingly censoring herself whenever she happens to swear, which is every other word.
For every Belle and Sebastian or Stormzy this weekend, there seem to be a dozen Blossoms (★★); proof of the receding circle of inventiveness with each new band influenced by Britpop. For something a bit less beige, the ever-reliable Jack Rocks stage hosts Strange Bones (★★★★), whose singer wears a homemade “Theresa is a Terrorist” t-shirt and a balaclava. It’s clownish, but surely enough, the group adeptly rock in the style of English punks Gallows, with the righteous anger to match.
Just as the rain looks like it’s here to stay and Smirnoff House, at the bottom of a small decline, almost becomes a muddy write-off, The 1975 (★★★★★) become the last highlight of the festival, even if sonically they resemble a millennial INXS. The 1975 are a band lost in time, surely too young to remember the hazy synths and bright soft rock riffs of their 80s patchwork style; copies without originals. But what appears to be a facile exercise in nostalgia is in fact glorious pop indulgence; in stark contrast to the suited and booted members of the band, frontman Matthew Healy gallivants about like Mick Jagger with the deep-set eyeliner of Gerard Way, inspiring the same cultish draw as Pete Wentz. But Healy’s enormous ego is mercifully tempered with self-awareness; when he addresses a visibly diverse audience, championing LGBTQ movements and recent Pride parades, it occurs that he is doing exactly what a pop star of his standing should – preach tolerance, even if in a simplified form, in an annoying Captain Jack Sparrow voice.
The very first TRNSMT festival is a flawed success, just like any first attempt. Questionable diversity issues and heavy corporatism aside, there’s enough here to suggest big things for the future – maybe even enough to rival that other great Scottish festival, T in the Park. TRNSMT has proven itself; it now falls to the organisers to make next year something special.