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a city by city guide to the best indie clubs, bars, record shops and local bands

Glasgow, Scotland
By Gavin Dunbar

 

Glasgow can be a city of extremes. The name Glasgow means dear green place, whilst conversly, Glasgow was built on industry. The River Clyde brought imports and sent out exports. We built ships, we engineered, factories rumbled and we were industrious. Many fantastic buildings were created, monuments to the richness of the city, with great architects like McIntosh and Greek-Thomson designing them. As time moves on, industries die, and for a long time, to the outsider, the city seemed to be a shadow of its former self, a reputation for being a grim, even grimy, city was the hangover of so many years of industrial output. We still had our parks, our dear green places, but the image to many people was of a hard place, lots of rain, possibly quite bleak.
  Over the past 20 years or so, there has been much urban regeneration and the city, always a vibrant place, has changed almost beyond recognition. We still have the same rain, but there has been a real effort to improve the way the city looks, with buildings being cleaned up and years of dirt washed away, older buildings being renovated to find a new use and new buildings going up. I always find that when wandering round the city centre, you look at the buildings that we have, the ones you see every day and you think it's all very well, they look nice enough, but it's when you look up, that you see the intricacy of the architecture, and it's well worth the look. Great Sandstone buildings and the tenements that give Glasgow a kind of identity, in the same way Manchester has its red brick terraces.
  These days, Glasgow is quite a European city in outlook and style. We have great infrastructure for music and arts, something that's always been there, but the age old school of thought that you have to go to London to succeed doesn't hold water when you realise that you can do it here. And bands have stayed based here and a better infrastructure has evolved as a result. There are so many great places to go and see, and by the way, the rumours are true, Glasgow hospitality is the best in the world.


Clubs


Little League
Venues and dates vary.
Quarterly club run by National Pop League and Butcher Boy's John Hunt.
(www.yahoogroups.com/nationalpopleague)

Divine
Every Saturday at the Vic Bar, Glasgow School of Art Union, Renfrew St, 11pm-3am
Divine is an institution having run for over ten years playing northern soul and 60s grooves, funk, Motown, ska and mod hipshakers with DJs Andrew Divine and Hushpuppy.
(www.theartschool.co.uk/divfly4.html)

The Winchester Club
Second Saturday of the month at the Woodside Social Club, North Woodside Road, 9pm-2am
Winchester DJs Ally, Gav, Matt and Nal mix up a superfine blend of old and new indie and pop with a few surprises thrown in for good measure.
(www.geocities.com/the_winchester_club/)

Superfly
Every second Saturday at the Woodside Social Club, 329 North Woodside Road, 9am-2am
DJs Duncan and Ian with funk and soul devoted to the dancfloor in another of the Woodside's regular clubnights.


Venues

 

13th Note
50-60 King Street
This pub has existed in various locations for over 10 years and has been a prominent feature in the rise of many of Glasgow's up and coming bands. Under new ownership since 2003, it still has live bands every night (mainly local) and provides some of the finest vegetarian and vegan fayre on offer in Glasgow. A relaxed and friendly atmosphere in the heart of the cities art galleries and workshops.
(www.13thnote.co.uk)

Barrowlands
244 Gallowgate
Formerly the Barrowlands Ballroom dancehall, this venue is renouned for its atmosphere and many touring bands regard a Glasgow Barrowlands show as the highlight of a tour. With a capacity of around 2000, it's the place to go to see bigger touring bands.
(www.glasgow-barrowland.com/ballroom.htm)

King Tut's Wah Wah Hut
272a St. Vincent St
A fave venue for up and coming local and touring bands alike. The downstairs bar is open all day for food and drinks, and the upstairs venue opens in the evening. Great atmosphere and sound ensure a cracking night out.
(www.kingtuts.co.uk)

Nice 'N'Sleazy's
421 Sauchiehall St
Recently re-furbished two-floor bar and venue. The upstair's bar is open all day for drinks and food with a fine jukebox selection and regular DJs on weekend nights and Sunday afternoons. The downstairs venue opens in the evening with live shows every night (mainly local bands).
(www.nicensleazy.com)



Bars

Mono
King's Court, 10 King St
A fine bar/restaurant/venue which provides a great selection of vegan food along with their own micro-brewery. A great place to while away a few hours, run by the people who originally owned the 13th Note.

Oscar Slaters
129 St Georges Road
This traditional 'local' pub sits right between the city centre and the west end. Friendly atmosphere and comfortable booths make this an ideal place for both a quiet drink or a night out with friends. Formerly The Carnarvon Bar, it was re-named Oscar Slaters in 2005 by its new owners, after a local man who was wrongly found guilty of murder in the next street.
(www.oscarslaters.com)

Stereo
20-28 Renfield Lane
Sister bar to Mono, and also known for live music, friendly atmosphere and a great place to catch local bands.
(www.stereocafebar.com)

The Variety
401 Sauchiehall St
Quiet during the day and bustling at night, this pub is worth a visit for its atmosphere and a fine selection of drinks at the bar. DJs play at weekends.

The 78
10-14 Kelvinhaugh St
A really nice spot, with a cool, jazzy atmostphere, nicely furnished with comfy sofas, and serving vegan and organic food and drinks. (LE)
(www.the78cafebar.com)


Record Shops


Avalanche
34 Dundas St
Glasgow branch of a Scottish indie record store chain. New and second hand records and CDs. Not quite the same selection of indie it used to have, but worth a look for the more mainstream bands and secondhand selection.
(www.avalancherecords.co.uk)

Fopp
19-27 Union St
358 Byres Rd
Good place to find bargains, Lots of cheap CDs, good selection for a big chain.
(www.fopp.co.uk/fopp.asp)

Missing
247 Argyle St
Large selection of second hand records and cds to spend time browsing through and find gems amongst.

Monorail
King's Court, 10 King St
Situated inside the bar/restaurant/venue Mono, a perfect environment to browse for your more leftfield records and CDs.


Local Bands

 

Arab Strap
Originally from Falkirk but based in Glasgow. Since they first appeared with debut single 'The First Big Weekend' back in 1996 they have released a string of must have albums that have seen them move from lo-fi narrative to full on band sound.
(www.arabstrap.co.uk)

Belle and Sebastian
These International Indie Darlings have done an awful lot to put Glasgow back on the map. Staunchly independent, with releases on Jeepster and Rough Trade, this band have managed to pull the fine trick of refusing to play the industry game, and still having top 40 chart success thanks to some fine albums, singles, EPs and live shows.
(www.belleandsebastian.com)

BMX Bandits
Perennial teenager Duglas Stewart and his gang with indie galore, from C86 to today.
(www.bmx-bandits.com)

Butcher Boy
Eight piece orchestral indie pop band, led by National Pop League's John Blain Hunt.
(butcher-boy.co.uk)

Camera Obscura
The band I happen to be in. Check us out at our website.
(www.camera-obscura.net)

Delgados
Recently split, the Delgados have been responsible for some of the best Scottish records of the past ten years, partly with their own records, but also through the record label they set up, Chemikal Underground, which has been home to Arab Strap, Mogwai, Bis, Aereogramme, Sluts of Trust and Radar Brothers amongst others.
(www.delgados.co.uk)

Dot To Dot
Fresh faced, up and coming, bastard sons of Orange Juice on a lost weekend with Lloyd Cole, Dot to Dot have a mission to get you dancing, and it appears to be working. One to watch out for in the new year with debut single imminent and record labels starting to wet their pants.
(www.jointhedots.tk)

Franz Ferdinand
What else is there to say since you can't possibly have missed Frank Ferguson seemingly coming from nowhere to International domination over the past couple of years. Exceptional Glasgow indie pedigree from all the members stretching back years.
(www.franzferdinand.co.uk)

Mogwai
Purveyours of some fine post rock, this mainly instrumental mob have several superb albums under their belts and are definately worth checking out.
(www.mogwai.co.uk)

Orange Juice
Long since they existed as a band, but worthy of a mention for being the first Scottish Indie band. Orange Juice proved that you didn't have to move to London to be making records, and what records they made. From the genius of the Postcard label issues to the hits on Polydor. Domino have recently re-issued the Postcard output in the compilation, 'The Glasgow School'.
(www.btinternet.com/~birdpoo/ojhist.htm)

The Pastels
For over twenty years this band has progressively continued to make records that improve on their predecessors, which is a fine trick. Now also responsible for Domino Records imprint Geographic Records.
(www.cogsci.ed.ac.uk/~jonathan/pastels.html)
(www.dominorecordco.com/site)

Primal Scream
Its been a long road from their C86 beginnings, but Primal Scream have spent 20 years Loaded and still going strong.
(www.primalscream.org)

Second Hand Marching Band
Magnificent Beruit-esque collective.
(www.myspace.com/thesecondhandmarchingband)

Sons and Daughters
Debut mini album Love the Cup on US label Ba Da Bing records set the scene, and now signed to Domino, Sons And Daughters are definately one to check out.
(www.sonsanddaughtersloveyou.com)

Teenage Fanclub
Always melodic, always with the harmonies, this band has produced some blinding records, from their earlier blistering guitar albums to their gentler sun kissed more recent work.
(www.teenagefanclub.com)

Trashcan Sinatras
Irvine's finest, but now honorary Glaswegians, this band have produced four fantastic albums since their 1990 debut with 'Cake'.
(www.trashcansinatras.com)

 


Miscellaneous

The List
Fortnightly listings magazine covering central Scotland is worth checking out to see what's happening in the way of gigs, clubs, plays and the like.
(www.list.co.uk)

Glasgow Indie Eye Spy
Fun for all with this quality game to play whilst in Glasgow. Gather points by spotting all your favourite indie bands and Glasgow hipsters.
(www.glasgowindieeyespy.blogspot.com)

Additional review by Laurence Estanove

If you'd like to recommend a club, bar, record shop, band or any indie delight for inclusion in the Indie Travel Guide, please email us. If we've included a link to your band/shop etc, it would be lovely if you could link back to us. Thank you!

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