WITH SO MANY different venues – from the elegant Barrowlands to the many bars throughout the city – here are five suggestions on where to see some quality gigs without hurting your wallet too much.
Located at the tail end of Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow’s main hub of clubs and bars, Box puts on live shows every day of the week for every week of the year; there is too much good music for them to take a single day off. And all of those shows are free.
A dedication to local and amateur musicians is the main policy. This is backed up not only by the daily gigs but also by the practice of lending out equipment such as amps or drum kits to anyone who needs them to play there. The accommodating atmosphere coupled with that enthusiasm for local talent makes Box ideal for newcomers to jump into Glasgow’s music scene.
Nice ‘N’ Sleazy is a split level bar with each floor catering to different sensibilities. Whether you choose to spend your time upstairs or downstairs, expect good music.
The upper half of the venue is used for dining, and features the pride of Sleazy: a custom jukebox filled with albums handpicked by the management. After dinner here (or even a quick pint), I always have new additions to make to my iPod.
Live shows take place downstairs. The bands that play here are generally unknown but given the quality of music and the often large crowds, you wouldn’t know it. As a bonus, many of the gigs here are also free.
421 Sauchiehall Street
In a city known for underground music, Sub Club is quite literally the most underground you can get. If you aren’t paying attention, it’s possible to walk right past the simple white door, marked only by coloured submarines, that takes you down a winding staircase. The red-lit dance floor plays host to DJs from all around the world, as well as the best electronic acts in Glasgow.
22 Jamaica Street
Featuring rock shows instead of sermons, Òran Mór is likely the most fun you’ll have in a church. The three-floor former church on Byres Road was reopened in 2004 as a bar and restaurant. A purple halo adorns a tall spire, making Òran Mór visible from blocks away and turning it into a good landmark for tourists trying to find their way around the city.
The name is taken from a Gaelic expression meaning “big sound” or “great melody of life,” and it lives up to its name. Most of the gigs are held in the small basement, letting you get up close and personal with the bands.
However, Òran Mór’s best space, ‘The Auditorium,’ is on the second floor. While it is typically reserved for wedding functions, bands occasionally play ‘The Auditorium.’ Its high ceiling, held aloft by two rows of pillars, is painted with a mural of the astrological constellations while the acoustics created by the stone walls makes it feel as though the show is happening all around you.
Top of Byres Road
The fabled King Tut’s is the venue that had the musical foresight to host Oasis, The Verve, and Radiohead within two weeks of each other in 1993 – before any of them had record deals. In fact, Oasis landed their contract fresh off a set at Tut’s. Over the years, their eye for up-and-coming talent has remained as sharp as ever, and in 2002, BBC Radio 1 named Tut’s the “Best Small Live Venue in the UK.”
Tickets for shows are usually between £7 and £15 but since King Tut’s is known around the city for quality gigs, and with a capacity of only 300, they sell out fast. It’s best to pick them up in advance either at the bar itself or online.
272 St. Vincent Street