Lauren Martin looks back on fifteen years of Subcity, as the station prepares for its birthday
In the intricate web of associations and special interest groups that are affiliated with the University of Glasgow, music aficionados would be hard pressed to find fault with the firmly established yet consistently fresh Subcity Radio. Whilst their budget is low and their yearly FM license short, the University’s official student radio station has seen the past fifteen years be very kind them: conquering The Arches with sell-out club nights; launching the careers of local DJ talent in the form of Optimo, Freekmenoovers and Mixed Bizness; and continually showcasing sounds ranging from rockabilly to Detroit techno. It is this multitude of genres and as yet undefinable sounds that dominates the Subcity airwaves which makes the station stand apart from other similarly high-achieving radio ventures. Unlike commercial radio, there is no set playlist, so presenters have a near-total free reign on the music that they wish to air. In the reliable words of DJ Benny Boom of Mixed Bizness: “Subcity has tirelessly promoted fresh and exciting new music for fifteen years and show no sign of letting up. It has always swum against the tide and supported the underdog. For that it must be applauded.”
The applause undoubtedly rings the loudest at their regular club events, which have allowed the local DJ talent that carry the station’s schedule to make the ceilings drip with sweat at the Hetherington Research Club; a platform for exposure and experience that previously may have been difficult to gain. Matthew Muir, one half of Subcity show All Caps, believes that Subcity “has provided us with the experience of DJing live at the various nights they put on, and has given us motivation and confidence to start our own club night and to DJ more. Subcity is great for young DJs, as it gives presenters a chance to play the music they want on the radio and to share it with others.” It is these club appearances from Subcity affiliates over the past decade and a half that have culminated in a solid reputation, which will be shown to the fullest in its latest night of mayhem. To honour their graceful ageing, Subcity Radio is hosting a 15th Birthday Party at The Arches on March 6.
With the doors to the legendary venue once again thrust open to revellers after a brief respite, one DJ that harks a welcome return to the Subcity stage is headliner Dema. Part of Glasgow’s music and art collective LuckyMe, Dema honed his trade in the Subcity studio presenting a show for five years, and co-hosted a phenomenally successful residency at the Glasgow School of Art as one half of Freekmenoovers. His return will push the Arches’ soundsystem to its limits for the first time since 2001. Joining him are fourteen other acts spread over two rooms, who will be indulging the masses in sounds as varied as the station’s schedule programme.
Argonaut Sounds hold down the reggae and dancehall corner with their extensive crates of delicious Jamaican dub plates, whilst techno and house is represented to the fullest by the award-winning Slave To The Rhythm. Visuals will be provided partly by Visual AIDS, having earned a reputation for their trademark cheeky, MS Paint-style creations. In their starkness and simplicity, Visual AIDS shows a comic streak that relates directly to all things rowdy, Glaswegian and suited to the night’s madness. Subcity Radio’s 15th Birthday Party runs from 10.30pm until 3am. Tickets are £6 in advance from the SRC, The Arches, Rub A Dub, Fopp (Byres Road) and Tickets Scotland, or £7/£8 on the door. For more information and the full line-up, go to http://www.subcity.org/events/.