Interview: DF Concerts CEO Geoff Ellis on TRNSMT 2023

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“At the core it’s about music, it’s about passion, it’s about having a great time, enjoying yourself, being with your friends, making new friends, those are the kind of essential ingredients which is the same as T in the Park.”

Stages are being built, food trucks brought in and bars are being assembled at Glasgow Green in preparation for TRNSMT 2023, which will see some of the biggest names in music, including Pulp, Sam Fender and the 1975, arrive in the city this weekend (7-9 July). Ahead of the festival we were invited to preview the site, which has been altered from previous years with the expansion of the Boogie Bar, and chat to Geoff Ellis, CEO of DF Concerts who organised the event.

Here’s what Geoff had to say: “We’ve got some wonderful new artists coming through - Swim School being one, LoveJoy another, Bob Vylan. All these artists whether they be on the River Stage or the King Tut’s stage or opening up the main stage, it’s great to actually have that opportunity to develop them. In the early years of TRNSMT we had Gerry Cinnamon, Lewis Capaldi, Sam Fender, they all played the King Tut’s Stage so we hope that our future headliners are the bands that you can see and the artists you can see who are early on playing on those stages.

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“You always strive for balance as much as you can between different genres to be as diverse as you can with the artists that are available and the market that you have in Scotland. The reality comes down to there’s only a certain number of artists who are available at any one particular weekend and at any particular geographic location, especially when it comes to bigger artists, so its a bit of a balancing act. Obviously you have to work to a budget as well which is harder than it ever used to be because artists rely much more on the live fees than they used to, particularly on the top end. You have to try and be clever and creative, you have to try and book acts who are maybe big now but weren’t as big when you booked them, so you get them at an affordable price and then they get much bigger as the festival arrives. It’s getting that balance as well so your lineup looks fresh and strong.

“When you’ve got Pulp as a headliner there’s no point in us going ‘let’s book bands that would have played with Pulp fifteen years ago’ because then you’re going to be playing to a very small market. You want to have a broader lineup so you get a newer act like George Ezra and Niall Horan but also balance out with somebody who’s been about a bit longer like Paul Heaton, The View etc. I call them challenges but they’re nice challenges to have.

“It’s about creating a space for new acts to come through as well, that’s why we created the River Stage, giving an opportunity for predominantly Scottish bands to break through as well. As a company we’ve got a long history of breaking through artists like Amy McDonald and Calvin Harris, Paolo Nutini, Biffy Clyro, who have all come through a very much grassroots level playing King Tut’s etc to being festival headliners in their own right.

“You want to have fans who are really into the music, into being in a festival environment, but they’re not coming for the drink, they’re coming for the music and the atmosphere and they might have a drink while they’re here, they might not, they might drink soft drinks or alcohol free lager which we’ve got more of this year than we’ve ever had in terms of ranges.

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“The key difference between TRSNMT and T in the Park is that this is a metropolitan, it’s right at the heart of the city centre, it’s much more sustainable because the audience can come on public transport to TRNSMT, in fact they pretty much have to because there’s not that much parking in the city centre of Glasgow and people are shopping as well. It’s in walking distance from both main line train stations so most people do come on public transport wherever they’re from. There’s no camping so it means people either go home or they stay over night in Glasgow so all the local hotels do fantastically, as do all the bars and the cafes, kebab shops, taxi firms, they all get a good boost from TRNSMT taking place. At the core it’s about music, it’s about passion, it’s about having a great time, enjoying yourself, being with your friends, making new friends, those are the kind of essential ingredients which is the same as T in the Park.”

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