Glasgow’s Music Scene

If there’s one place that’s buzzing with music, it’s Glasgow. Music runs in this city’s veins, everywhere from the fact that it hosts a staggering 130 gigs on average per week to the more tangible experience of being invited to Facebook events every month because half a dozen of your pals just happen to be in local bands.

It should come as no surprise either that the same place that introduced the world to the likes of Simple Minds, Mogwai, The Fratellis, Belle & Sebastian and CHVRCHES – to name but a few – continues to bring us up and coming artists across all genres, making G-town a serious cultural force to be reckoned with. Here’s the low-down on all things music-related you need to know about:


The QMU’s very own Qudos boasts an impressive history of legends like Nirvana and Queen all having taken to its stage back in the day, and one obviously can’t talk about Glasgow venues without mentioning that Oasis got their big break in the intimate space of King Tuts, can they?

It’s not all about the names either – each venue has its quirks that adds to the experience too, whether it’s the O2 ABC’s giant disco ball hanging from its ceiling or the charming architecture of the O2 Academy (pro tip: always be sure that you know which O2 you’re going to, because the joke’s on you if you get it wrong). Traditional buildings aside, SWG3 gives you the chance to rave to electronic music in a warehouse, while converted churches like Oran Mor and Saint Luke’s create a unique sense of awe that makes seeing live acts extra special.  

As if that’s not already enough, the Royal Concert Hall gives your evening of entertainment a touch of class that can only be disrupted by the sound of Patti Smith burping into a microphone, while the SSE Hydro acts as a smoothly run spaceship with a capacity of 12,000. Did you know? The latter was actually named eighth busiest venue in the world in 2016, because where else can you see The Prodigy, Faithless and Disclosure all within the space of four days?

Finally, we have my personal favourite: the iconic Barrowlands. In addition to its sprung floor, this venue somehow always manages to feel up close and personal despite a 2,000 capacity and the fact that its gigs are often sold-out.

And whilst some venues naturally have better sound quality than others, one thing you can always rely on is Weegie fans themselves and their chants of “Here we fucking go”. There’s just something about Glasgow crowds that makes them stand out above the rest, so it’s no coincidence that plenty of artists openly admit that Glasgow is one of their favourite stops on tour.

Open-mic nights:

Alternatively, if you’re skint or simply fancy something more low-key, open-mic nights and local gigs take place all across the city on a daily basis – Nice n’ Sleazy hosts an acoustic night every Monday and Howlin’ Wolf will treat you to all the best blues throughout the week.


Of course, no article about Glasgow’s music scene would be complete without any mention of the vast amount of festivals that take place annually, and with the kind of variety on offer here you’re bound to find something that floats your boat! Kicking off in January, the Celtic Connections festival features over 300 concerts, workshops and even ceilidhs as a way of focusing on the roots of traditional Scottish music. Glasgow’s Jazz Festival meanwhile takes place in June, granting you the opportunity to see internationally renowned jazz musicians from across the globe. More recently, TRNSMT takes place the following month in July right here in Glasgow Green, with headline acts such as the likes of Kasabian and Biffy Clyro helping you get into the summer spirit. And to keep that spirit alive, August brings you Summer Nights at Kelvingrove bandstand, featuring names like Pixies and Primal Scream, while Summer Sessions at Bellahouston Park – most recently headlined by Eminem – gives you those field-day memories that you love to make.

Record stores:

As far as CDs are concerned, there are a number of Fopp and HMV stores scattered about the city which will no doubt cater to your musical needs, but if niche vinyl records are what you’re after, look no further! Nifty record shops can be found both in the city centre and the West End – we recommend taking yourself down for a visit to Love Music next to Queen Street Station, Oxfam Music on Byres Road and Mixed Up Records on Otago Lane.


No matter how many times I walk past Oddbins on Woodlands Road, it never ceases to please me when I see the words “The Clash busked here” (true story bro, Google it); it seems a pretty fitting insight into just how cool Glasgow’s busking scene actually is, because anyone who’s lived here will tell you that buskers are what make Glasgow’s streets what they are. Be it young talent singing the soundtrack to your life around every corner, pissed strangers bonding over drunken renditions of Oasis songs on a Saturday night, African drumming alongside bagpipes, Darth Vader playing an accordion, or even middle-aged folk doing their own acapella versions of Erasure’s ‘Respect’ and ‘Tell Me Ma’ and country dancing together while waiting on the next subway… people and music really do make Glasgow in every way.

[Anni Payne]

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