Writer Zak Sheeran reviews SoulJam at it's new home in SWG3
SoulJam has always provided some of the greatest events for the Glasgow nightlife scene, building its reputation as the prime event to experience the finest Soul and Funk jam classics. After the unfortunate fire at the Glasgow School of Art - the usual host for the event - many were concerned as to what the future of the event would hold and how or where it would return. On Tuesday 25 September, SoulJam debuted its return with their "Dance To The Music" tour at SWG3; although it has been considered a success by some, many have felt that it did not live up to the memory of its Art School predecessor.
SWG3 is a massive venue, with multiple rooms and a large main dance floor. Its warehouse appearance adds an edgy vibe that’s great for DJ gigs because it cultivates a rave-culture atmosphere – allowing you to get lost in the music. Listening to the music of James Brown while standing in this concrete jungle, however, felt slightly disjointed, which is not exactly the fault of the venue. Adding to that, the atmosphere of the hall was cold in comparison to the events held at the Art School. In fact, the smaller venue of the Art School actually worked in favour of the event as the older venue gave a warmer and more retro vibe that contributed to the older style of music – and I could also find my friends without having to search twenty minutes through a thick fog created by a smoke machine.
SoulJam has always been famous for its inclusion of a plethora of 60’s and 70’s classics: the music of the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, James Brown and Aretha Franklin are just a few to mention. There are little music events dedicated to this golden era of music, and this is why SoulJam has always been such a great success. The upbeat tunes and general tone of the music are great to dance to and it puts a smile on everyone’s faces. Due to the success of the event, it would seem that SoulJam has started to pull a more mainstream audience, and as such the music has started to stray further from 60’s and 70’s funk, occasionally playing music derivative of the era. This means tracks such as Prince’s “Kiss” could get a play and still fit in with the general theme. However, hearing the pop classic of ABBA “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!”, or David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” felt entirely out of place and was just disappointing.
If for an £8 ticket price you were expecting a large venue to play a list of popular funk and soul classics, you probably got what you paid for and came away satisfied. If instead you were expecting a carbon copy of the Art School’s rendition of SoulJam, then you were inevitably going to come away feeling slightly disappointed by the drop in quality and that the £8 you paid was a little excessive. Hopefully these are just teething problems for the SWG3, and with future ventures the club will be able to put their own spin on SoulJam that will match the memory of the Art School . Until then, I remain doubtful.