Something I didn’t know about Glasgow before moving here is that it has a huge music scene. In fact, Glasgow is a UNESCO City of Music. From the website:
Glasgow is a vibrant city with a legendary music scene that stretches across the whole spectrum from country and classical to hip-hop, indie and techno. Its venues are equally varied and the city hosts an average 130 music events each week more than any other Scottish city. Glasgow was called ‘Europe’s secret capital of music’ by Time Magazine, and the city boasts a massive pool of talent across every style of music.
From the tiniest venues all the way up to stadiums, there’s no shortage of places to catch a gig. While anyone can find the big places, I wanted to highlight a few of the local gems that probably aren’t as well known outside of Scotland. If you’re a music lover, you’ll find plenty to do in Glasgow! Here’s the scoop on Glasgow for music lovers.
First stop: take a guided tour
I had the opportunity to do one of the Glasgow Music City Tours with Yelp, and it was a really cool experience. They offer two tours; one is through Merchant City and the other covers “Glasgow’s Music Mile.” We did the Music Mile, which is a walking tour weaving through historic and current music venues, with stories of gigs past and present to bring each venue to life. The tour finished at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, an iconic local venue where many big name bands were discovered (more on that soon). Our group got to get up on the stage, which is a pretty amazing thing to do!
As an American, I didn’t know a lot of the bands covered in some parts of the tour, but there’s plenty for everyone to enjoy. You can learn more about the tours and book your tickets (at £15, you can’t afford not to) on the Glasgow Music City Tours website.
Now find a show: top five places to see a gig
This is an open air, smallish venue located within Kelvingrove Park. This means events only take place there during the summer months. Last summer, I was lucky enough to see Ben Folds and yMusic there. This summer’s offerings include Van Morrison and Idlewild (with former barista from our neighborhood coffee shop C Duncan as the opening act!)
I love this little place – it’s just a cool place to see a show, even when the weather is not that great. If you’re in Glasgow during the summer (particularly August when their Summer Nights Series is on) check it out!
From their website: “The Art School is a unique centre for music and the arts in Glasgow” and is home to The Glasgow School of Art Students’ Association. There you’ll find something going on most nights – anything from free weekly parties to DJs to rocked-up Scottish traditional music. Its history includes ties to members of Franz Ferdinand and Belle & Sebastian – The Skinny did a great write up of The Art School’s past if you’re interested in the full story. Many musicians who go on to fame get their starts here.
Find out what’s on and if you need tickets on The Art School website.
Open since 1999, this long-standing local bar and venue is a Sauchiehall St. institution. Looking for a celebrity encounter? Aidan Moffat (Arab Strap) and Mogwai are among regulars here, and touring musicians often stop in after gigs in nearby (larger) venues. Again, look to The Skinny for the full history (in celebration of their 20th anniversary in 2011.)
Nowadays, you can see a variety of bands and DJs, and there’s a regular open mic night on Mondays. It kind of looks like a dump, but don’t all the best bars? Plus if you hate it, there’s about 20 other bars and clubs along the same stretch of road.
See what’s coming up on their website.
The Barrowlands Ballroom and Barras Markets date back to the 1930s, where people used to gather to do the latest dances, like foxtrot and tango. Its iconic neon sign had to be removed during World War 2 amid fears that it would be targeted for bombing.
The original ballroom was gutted by fire in 1958 but rebuild and re-opened in 1960. Since then, it’s gone on to become a local hot spot for rock concerts. For a more in-depth look at the history of Barrowlands, this article, republished from The Herald, will give you the story. Upcoming shows include Elvis Costello and local legends Teenage Fanclub. The Barrowlands website looks like it hasn’t been updated since the days of AOL, but the listings seem pretty up to date.
Find out what’s on here and don’t worry, you haven’t been transported back to 1999.
Probably best known for being the place where Oasis was discovered, this bar has been integral to the Glasgow music scene since 1990. Among shows you could have caught there when the artists were still relatively unknown: Radiohead, The Killers, Juliette Lewis, Pulp, My Chemical Romance, Florence & The Machine, Snow Patrol, and Paolo Nutini. This is the place to just pick a band and go. You never know when you’ll be among the first to discover the next big thing.
See what’s on here and #yolo to the next show!
Did you have any idea Glasgow was such a hot spot for music? What bands are you desperate to see? Tell me in the comments!