Interview: Geoff Ellis on TRNSMT festival 2018

Geoff Ellis at the TRNMT site
Geoff Ellis at the TRNMT site

The Chief Executive of DF Concerts, Geoff Ellis leads the team that promotes Scotland’s biggest gigs. At the end of the month, the second annual TRNSMT festival will burst into life on Glasgow Green across five days of extraordinary performances. It will be the crowning glory of Glasgow’s summer of music.

Glasgowist sat down with Geoff for a chat.

The headline acts for TRNSMT catch the eye and get most of the attention. Is it also important to have local performers on the bill and to put emerging acts on the same stage as established bands?

For me, its vitally important and we’ve always thought that way with festival programming in general. If we look at last years bill, we had Lewis Capaldi, Gerry Cinnamon on Sunday on the King Tut’s stage. They are both coming back to play the main stage this year and their career trajectories have been huge since last July.

Gerry had a real buzz about him at the festival last year. But we could put him at The Hydro on sale tomorrow and it would sell out.

So to have him open on the same day as Liam Gallagher, its brilliant, because it means probably most of the 50,000 people are going to be in straight away, it’s going to be a festival first.

If you are coming down for Gerry, get down early to see him.

Elsewhere, there is Tom Walker, Sam Fender, Confidence Man – that’s a really great sequence on that stage. So to have these acts and bands from Scotland like Snuts as well, I think it just gives the right emphasis.

There will be people coming for the big ticket items on main stage, but there are a lot of music fans that do want to discover new music as well. Just go down to the King Tuts stage and see who’s on. Hopefully we have some future festival headliners there.

Interestingly, most of the headliners this year – Stereophonics, The Killers, Arctic Monkeys – their first Glasgow gig was at King Tut’s. Liam Gallagher was signed at King Tut’s 25 years ago on the 31st May when there were 69 people in the audience.

Belle and Sebastian at TRNSMT festival 2017

Belle and Sebastian at TRNSMT festival 2017

Is it fun, then, for the festival to develop that relationship with artists and seeing their career grow from year to year? I’m thinking of acts like Kyle Falconer and Gerry Cinnamon, who you mentioned.

Absolutely. The View are taking a sabbatical, Kyle has got his own album, so he is back in his own right as a solo artist. It’s great for acts because they have a great audience and great television exposure. There will be millions of viewers on the BBC for TRNSMT.

That’s also great for Glasgow. If you were to try to put a value on that coverage for tourism, it would be off the scale.

You know that site at Glasgow Green very well, but was there anything you learned from the first festival last summer?

I think we learnt from previous events we held at the green actually. We knew we had to get people to come in from the east side of the park. So we communicated that to people and it worked because almost half of the audience came through the People’s Palace side.

That enabled folk to move around the site a bit easier, and it worked very well. This year it’s just little tweaks here and there really. One of the bars needed to be a bit bigger, one needed to be angled a bit differently. No huge changes.

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Tell us about bringing Platform at the Argyle Arches to set up the street food stalls?

We had some great food there last year, but this year we thought “well, there are a set of producers from Glasgow that are all working together here, lets get them to de-camp from Platform and they can provide the street food that people want. That’s a new focus for this year.

So, after all the wonderful footage of the festival last year, was it fairly easy to go to some of the biggest acts in the world and ask them to play in a park in Glasgow?

Yeah, I think so because the Glasgow audience is world-renowned for being the most passionate in the world and I think a city centre location that people can get to quite easily on public transport is attractive.

If people are visiting the city or staying in hotels they can easily get to their accommodation. We work with bands all year round at concerts. Radiohead was the first band that booked for last years’ event and I think they were really happy and they played at Glasgow Green before. Kasabian were really up for it.

Then for this year, you’ve got a lot of bands who will have seen how it happened last year and the reputation goes before it now.

The Killers absolutely love playing in Scotland generally, but they loved Glasgow from their first King Tut’s show.

Last year you told us that Radiohead, from your personal music perspective, would be when you were really looking forward to being out in front of the main stage, what about this year?

Well, for me, Queen + Adam Lambert. I’ve seen them on YouTube and stuff like that, but I’ve never actually been at one of their gigs. And I think that I speak for a lot of people in that regard where they have maybe not been to a Queen’s concert, but actually love Queen’s music because there are so many hits there and as hardcore Queen fans will tell you; Adam Lambert is a fantastic front man.

He is not trying to be Freddie Mercury, so that endears him immediately to the Queen fans, because he is not trying to replace Freddy, he does the songs justice, but he has got his own personality. You can’t front Queen without having that flamboyance, but he’s got his own kind of flamboyance, not imitating Freddie in any way. So I think that gives it credibility and then you’ve got that back catalogue and then you add Texas to that as well, and it becomes a great Glasgow sing-a-long.

For me, seeing something new and hearing We Will Rock You, Killer Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody. That will be quite special.

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TRNSMT 2018 DAY SPLITS + LINE-UP

WEEKEND 1

FRIDAY 29th JUNE 2018 – Stereophonics | The Script | James Bay | Kodaline | Jessie J | Embrace | Picture This
King Tut’s Stage Powered by Utilita Energy – Tom Walker | Pale Waves | Marmozets |Anteros |Sam Fender | Ninth Wave | The Slydigs

SATURDAY 30th JUNE 2018 – Liam Gallagher | Courteeners | Wolf Alice | J HUS | Krept x Konan |Shed Seven| Gerry Cinnamon
King Tut’s Stage Powered by Utilita Energy – The Sherlocks | IAMDDB | Ramz| Kyle Falconer (full band) | The Snuts | The Academic | Bas | The Night Café

SUNDAY 1st JULY – Arctic Monkeys | Interpol | Blossoms | Nothing But Thieves |Declan McKenna| Miles Kane | Tom Grennan
King Tut’s Stage Powered by Utilita Energy – Sigrid | Fatherson | King No-One | Dermot Kennedy | Confidence Man | The Magic Gang | Island

WEEKEND 2

FRIDAY 6th JULY 2018 – Queen + Adam Lambert | Texas | The Darkness | The Temperance Movement
King Tut’s Stage Powered by Utilita Energy – Gun | The Xcerts | Hunter & The Bear | Mason Hill | Electric Pyramid | The Amorettes

SUNDAY 8th JULY 2018 – The Killers | CHVRCHES | Franz Ferdinand | Friendly Fires | Jessie Ware | Lewis Capaldi | Hudson Taylor
King Tut’s Stage Powered by Utilita Energy – Nina Nesbitt | Walking on Cars | Jane Weaver | Catholic Action | Gang of Youths | Juanita Stein | LUCIA