The sun was beaming down on the tens of thousands of punters in Glasgow this weekend who descended on the city’s Bellahouston Park park to see North Wales outfit Catfish and the Bottlemen and guests, as part of the city’s Glasgow Summer Sessions series. With the likes of Kings of Leon and Kendrick Lamar with N.E.R.D. playing a part of the series on other days, it would be fair to argue that to an Australian, Catfish may seem to be the unlikely headliners on a night that also featured hometown heroes Twin Atlantic, Australia’s DMA’s, Peace and more.
But the packed venue – and the others around the UK they have already left in their wake – proved otherwise; this band is huge in Glasgow, only amplified by the fact they have a song named after the city. Still, this was the band’s biggest headline show ever in Scotland – their first outdoor headline show of any kind in the country – and they proved themselves every bit worthy of the spot. Not a bad feat considering just four years earlier they were playing on the discovery (“T Break”) stage at T in the Park, which used to be held not far from this very venue, along the likes of The Jezabels, King Charles and Wolf Alice.
Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes had hit the stage when I arrived, the UK quintet featuring the former Gallows frontman, who has oft been featured here on the AU. For a mid afternoon set, it was wild and rambunctious to say the least, with Carter jumping into the middle of the mosh pit in the middle of song two, amping up the crowd which he said was the “wildest mosh pit” he’d ever been in, and staying true to his promise to “bring the mosh to the indie rock day”. Indeed, they were the heaviest band of the day, and the Glasgow crowd gave them their all – even if Carter did struggle in his demands for the “biggest circle pit the park has ever seen”.
The set included tracks like “Devil Inside Me” and closed with “I Hate You”, a less than upbeat track about how there’s always someone you hate out there more than anybody else. “And don’t forget,” Carter quipped, “you’re this person for someone else too”. But in spite of this sort of dialogue, Carter always made sure the crowd was alright, also telling Glasgow that if he saw any guys in the crowd touching women without their consent, he’d “tie the mic around their throat, drag em on stage and cut off their testicles.” Touche. It was a lot of energy and a whole heap of fun to watch… from a distance.
Speaking of indie rock, Worcester quartet Peace were next, who have long been one of the most reliable and entertaining bands on the touring scene. Playing tracks like “You Don’t Walk Away” off their latest LP Kindness Is the New Rock and Roll, which came out in May and seems to serve as the antithesis of the message of the previous band, the set also featured favourites from their catalogue including “Lovesick”, while “From Under Liquid Glass” closed the set. Peace are a band who just keep getting tighter and tighter, and armed with the stand out lead vocals of Harry Koisser, are a group we hope make it back down to Australia before too long. Get behind their latest record too, it’s a surprise gem of the year.
Speaking of Australia, Sydney’s own DMA’s snuck in an appearance in Glasgow in between sets at Leeds and Reading. The six piece battled some early tech issues, but pushed through a set that was among the best received I’ve ever seen for the group – and I was just at Splendour in the Grass! Their music seems to have certainly made its mark here in Glasgow, with tens of thousands of kids singing along to just about every song, giving the venue a spectacular vibe. Songs like “Play It Out”, “For Now”, “Blown Away”, “Delete” and “Lay Down”, which ended the set, all brought on some great singalongs. The guys are really hitting the top of their game right now and it’s great to see.
Playing the role of final support act for the night were Glasgow quartet Twin Atlantic, who received nothing short of a hero’s welcome. They’re a band who, while they have toured Australia before (we even played Beer Pong with them at Soundwave in 2015), have never quite found the success abroad that they’ve found at home. In many ways, I would compare them to Birds of Tokyo in that respect. Put some of their music side by side and you’ll hear some similarities, too.
Their polished, stadium-worthy set opened with “Gold Elephant: Cherry Alligator” and closed with their biggest track “Generator”, that even got a sing along from yours truly. The rest of the set was filled with tracks like “Valhalla” (a personal favourite), “Free”, “I Am An Animal”, “Ex El” and “No Sleep”, a heavier number which saw lead singer Sam McTrusty remove his jacket, jump into the photo pit, consider jumping into the mosh and ultimately decline the opportunity due to its intensity. Along the way, the group played so well, delivered it all with such professional conviction, and had such a huge response from the crowd, you almost forgot they weren’t headlining.
But they were not. A little band from Wales were given the honour. Four years ago I first saw Catfish and the Bottlemen playing the “T Break” stage alongside the likes of The Jezabels at T in the Park, not far from Glasgow. Now, two albums on from hitting the stage devoted to up-and-coming bands, they’re headlining their own day festival in a park in a city they named a song after. It’s prettt amazing.
Opening with with some isolated “Helter Skelter” vocals (a nice touch), and then “Homesick”, their set jumped between songs from their 2016 release The Ride and 2014’s breakthrough debut, The Balcony. Songs like “Pacifier” and “Twice” were well received and they had an expectedly huge singalong for “Glasgow” (which they apparently rarely play outside the city). “Fallout” featured some great jams and their main set ended with a version of “Outside” that saw The Kinks’ classic “Sunny Afternoon” expertly weaved in. Along the way they showed themselves to have evolved into a true stadium rock band; lead singer Van McCann every part the powerful frontman, and the band behind him playing with gravitas and precision. There’s no denying they should be playing stages this size, and the crowd ate up every word of every song.
With their biggest ever Scottish headline show behind them, after a run of similar shows including playing to 40,000 people headlining an All Points East Presents show in London, the group have lined themselves up to be headlining festivals around the region next year as they work towards the release of their third album. And though the four years since they played the T Break stage at T in the Park may seem like a short amount of time, this is band who have been honing their craft for the better part of the last 11 years. And in the process, they seem to have become one of the best live bands in the world just in time.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The Glasgow Summer Sessions wraps up in Bellahouston Park on 29th August with Kendrick Lamar and N.E.R.D. For more details, head to the official website.