I’m off to Spain for a week this weekend but, before I go, I’ll be hitting up Glasgow’s new TRNSMT festival on Friday night in my Herald capacity.
And, you know something? Despite my renowned antipathy towards Radiohead – and, um, all-male headliners – I’m really looking forward to it.
The acoustics might be shite, and the weather often worse, but there’s nothing to beat festival nights: big choruses, best pals and whatever dodgy alcoholic concoction you’ve managed to get past security. There’s a certain magic combination of companions to fireworks to dry conditions to sickly-sweet cherry-flavoured alcohol that has resulted in me singing my heart out to Snow Patrol as the sun went down, and I don’t even care that there was photographic evidence.
As I’ve gotten older, though, my music festival mantra has increasingly become the smaller, the better. Think two or three stages, located conveniently enough that you can catch all the bands you want to see without wearing out your wellies, manageable toilet queues and decent food and drink. Even better if it’s in an accessible location, allowing you to get a good night’s sleep and a shower before you head back out for a second day – I was over camping before my 30th birthday, and what is “glamping” but camping with better PR?
TRNSMT may be the first, but we’ve now hit that point in the year when if you plan your time right you could spend every weekend night enjoying live music under the
clouds stars somewhere in Scotland. I’ve teamed up with independent online music magazine Get To The Front to share some of my favourites.
King Tut’s Summer Nights
13th-29th July, King Tut’s, Glasgow tickets
Now in its sixth year, it’s probably fair to class King Tut’s Summer Nights as Scotland’s premiere showcase of new music. This year, more than 70 new acts will get the chance to play one of Glasgow’s most iconic stages across 17 days – and you can enjoy food offers, after-show parties in the bar and venue DJs if you want to make a night of it. Among the ones to watch are Model Aeroplanes, Immi, November Lights, American Clay and Foreignfox – and, for those with the stamina, a £40 Golden Ticket will get you into every show.
Lost Map’s Howlin’ Fling
28th-29th July, Isle of Eigg
You’ll know, if you’re one of those people to whom Howlin’ Fling is not one of Scotland’s best-kept secrets, that there’s little point in me listing this: Lost Map’s island adventure usually sells out in minutes, even before a single act (that isn’t Pictish Trail) is announced. Joining Mr Lynch on his island home this year are James Holden & the Animal Spirits, Francois and the Atlas Mountains, Withered Hand and a DJ set from Jon Hopkins – plus Lost Map stablemates Kid Canaveral, Martha Ffion and more.
28th-30th July, Mugdock Country Park, nr. Glasgow tickets
Proudly proclaiming itself as the only festival at which you can enjoy a massage while watching bands on the main stage, MugStock is a not-for-profit, family-friendly festival that is easily accessible from Glasgow. This year’s lineup features 120 bands across six stages (including a 50-seat indoor theatre!) with The Supernaturals, Bombskare, Rachel Sermanni and Dave Acari leading the line-up. LYG faves Yip Man and Lisa Kowalski feature too. Discounted tickets are available for over-60s and teenagers, while under 12s go free.
Belladrum Tartan Heart
3rd-5th August, Beauly tickets
This year, with its 14th birthday looming, Inverness-shire’s best festival became the first in Scotland to launch its own tartan. Running over three days this year, festival-goers with a ticket for the full weekend will be able to enjoy disco legends Sister Sledge on the Thursday night along with Franz Ferdinand, KT Tunstall, The Pretenders, First Aid Kit and Feeder.
12th August, Annick Lodge, North Ayrshire tickets
Apparently the name of this new Scottish festival comes from “an old Scottish word commonly associated with riotous crowds engaged in seemingly nonsensical activity”. But there’s nothing nonsensical about the organisers’ approach, which emphasises up-and-coming eclectic talent from the fields of music, visual art, spoken word and cinema. Highlights include recent LYG interviewee Monkoora, Machines in Heaven, Samson Sounds, Esperanza and Harry and the Hendersons.
Doune the Rabbit Hole
18th-20th August, Cardross, nr. Stirling tickets
Could this be the lineup of the summer? Doune the Rabbit Hole is already famous for its creative, crafty vibe and welcoming, family friendly atmosphere (a friend of mine even got married there last year!) but this year it’s the music that has me excited. My favourites over the three days include Big Thief’s melodic, evocative loveliness, Norwegian art-popper Jenny Hval, US singer-songwriter Laura Gibson and a “snookerstar DJ” set from none other than Steve Davis. Yes, that one.
19th-20th August, Helensburgh, tickets
Another new one for 2017, Argyll Gathering promises to be a real community-led festival with workshops in music, art and Gaelic language, a festival-only escape room and live performances from the likes of Runrig’s Donnie Munro, the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Bwani Junction performing Paul Simon’s Graceland and local party people Colonel Mustard & the Dijon 5 and the Well Happy Band. Expect incredible festival food too, courtesy of Food From Argyll: Loch Fyne Oysters, Scozzese Pizza, The Real Mackay Stovie Co, veggie street food from COAST and Williams Bros craft beer are among those confirmed.
1st-2nd September, Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfriesshire tickets
This was my highlight of last summer – and, with any luck, it’ll be my highlight of this one too. Closing festival season in the stunning Borders countryside, Electric Fields boasts a top class line-up from Scotland and beyond and one of the nicest atmospheres I’ve ever experienced at a festival. Headliners Frightened Rabbit, Dizzee Rascal, Band of Horses and the Jesus and Mary Chain will be joined by a class down-bill curated by Tenement TV and BBC Radio Scotland’s Vic Galloway – while I’m even more excited by the prospect of the spoken word stage (a first for a Scottish festival?) programmed by the wordsmiths at Neu! Reekie!
Thanks to Get To The Front for making this post possible. They’re an independent music magazine specialising in tour dates and ticket news, making sure you get tickets to your favourite gigs before they sell out by 2008. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter.
Photos by Jassy Earl/Beth Chalmers; Kris Kesiak; Lisa-Marie Ferla; Electric Fields