The Great Western Festival Q&A

Published

Credit: oran-mor.co.uk

Chloe Waterhouse
Deputy Culture Editor – Music

A brand-spanking-new music and arts festival right on our campus doorstep.

You have probably witnessed the distinctive marketing posters on campus advertising Glasgow’s first ever Great Western Festival, an event taking place on the doorstep of our uni gaffs and local haunts. It has been branded as a unique “multi-venue music and arts festival of musical exploration and discovery” championing a grounded community spirit and celebration of under-appreciated spaces in the area. Taking place on November 23, this event is an innovative project wherein the stages are specially curated, with 50 acts across 10 venues like the Hug and Pint, Oran Mor, QMU, and Mackintosh Queen’s Cross Church, as well as more unorthodox venues like Maryhill Community Central Halls, and The Glue Factory. The press release specifies the musical acts playing, citing:

“These amazing spaces will play host to some of the most dynamic and goosebump-inducing acts on the planet, with legendary Malian desert blues collective Songhoy Blues leading the charge. This welcome return to Glasgow follows a series of incredible shows in the city including an absolutely raucous and transcendent performance as part of BBC 6 Music Festival at the Barrowlands in 2017. Taking their place alongside Songhoy Blues will be incendiary Californian dance punks !!! (Chk Chk Chk) who will be bringing their aptly-titled new album ‘Wallop’ to town for an airing; visionary US singer-songwriter Cass McCombs, whose own stunning new effort ‘The Tip of the Sphere’ is arguably his finest to date; and influential Glasgow indie heavyweights, The Pastels, who will also be curating their own programme at Maryhill Community Central Halls.

Joining them will be: SAY Award-winning indie pop crew Sacred Paws; electro spiritual life guides Free Love; festival-slaying masters of funk, Tom McGuire and the Brassholes; darkly funny post-punks Warmduscher; Lightships (ft. Gerry Love of Teenage Fanclub); Scotland’s own master of the bittersweet, Malcolm Middleton (Arab Strap); London feminist punk pop trio Big Joanie; sardonic UK post-punks Dry Cleaning; and a raft of other incredible new artists including Sorry, Peaness, Art School Girlfriend and many more.

There will of course be a healthy dose of exciting local/Scottish talent too including Lost Map Records rising stars Callum Easter and Molly Linen, the extraordinary Heir of The Cursed, Rev Magnetic, Cara Rose, Scarlett Randle, Lizzie Reid, Chuchoter, Dlu, Bobby Kakouris, Caitlin Buchanan, Rory James, Nekkuro Hana, Russell Stewart, Freakwave and Home$lice with many more to be announced across all festival stages.

But why should we, as thrifty, on-a-budget uni students splurge on tickets? To gain an insider’s view into the event, I got in touch with press officer Ryan Drever of 432 Presents, the company is behind the festival’s establishment:

GG: Why did you choose to hold the festival in venues specifically in the West End?
Ryan: The idea for this festival has been simmering for a while now. Brian Reynolds – who runs 432 Presents and is the head organiser of The Great Western – has lived in the local area for nearly 20 years and has no plans to leave, perhaps ever!
It all came organically to us, since he’s been wanting to do something in the area for a long time and the timing just happened to be right to do it in November. The core idea of TGW was to try and build something exciting in this particular area while shining a light on some of its most popular and established venues alongside under-appreciated/under-used spaces. 

GG: What acts have you been most excited about booking for the festival and why?
Ryan: In all honesty, we’re excited about everybody! I know that sounds like an easy answer, but it’s true. The line-up is curated by us (we also had help from The Pastels who are curating the programme at Maryhill Community Central Halls with us), so every single act has been hand-picked because we love them and in some cases we could envision specific acts playing in specific spaces when we first began developing the idea.
However, I would have to say that Songhoy Blues have become one of our favourite bands to work with so that is sure to be a highlight. They are truly sensational live – in particular their show at The Barras as part of 6 Music Festival a couple years back was mind-blowing. I won’t just read the whole line-up but we’re all absolutely buzzin’ for this!

GG: Tell us more about 432 Presents and the team behind the event.
Ryan: 432 Presents is an independent promotions company based in Glasgow that was launched in January of this year. The team had previously been part of Synergy Concerts for many years, before venturing out on their own following a mutual decision between the partners to split. The founder of Synergy got married and moved to the US and eventually both parties started to move in slightly different directions. So, the Glasgow office eventually grew legs and continued under the new name of 432 Presents. Synergy still operates too and has booked some fantastic shows this year already. Meanwhile, however, we continue to promote events all over Scotland and beyond, booking over 600 shows this year already as well as programming the bill for Doune the Rabbit Hole Festival and running The National Whisky Festival of Scotland. We also own and operate two venues in the city – The Hug and Pint on Great Western Road and The Blue Arrow Jazz Club on Sauchiehall Street. 

GG: Aside from the actual musical performances, I see that you are working together with local restaurants and bars to provide the food and drink for the event, who exactly is going to be involved? 
Ryan: We’re still working on finalising who exactly will be involved outwith the venues already mentioned but should have firm details on this shortly. There will be veggie and vegan options available at reasonable prices, I can say that for certain. 

GG: Is there an official site that people can visit for more information on the event? 
Ryan: Yes, we have a full website up here: https://www.tgwfest.com. Full artist information will be available here. However, we will also be posting updates regularly on social media across 432 Presents and Live Music Scotland channels. 

GG: What sets The Great Western Festival apart from other local festivals like Tenement Trail and St Luke’s All Dayer (since ticket prices are rather expensive for a new festival that hasn’t established itself yet)?
Ryan: We’re lucky that we live in a city that loves music and loves festivals, so it’s very cool to play a big part in bringing exciting events to Glasgow. The main goal of The Great Western is to give people the opportunity to see world class acts in slightly unusual places as well as exciting new acts in more familiar ones.
Each venue has a line up that could stand strong on its own and that’s something we’re very proud of. We want to actively encourage people to explore the area, and to go to as many venues as they can or would like to. That’s why we are also offering single venue tickets for anyone who would prefer to focus on one or two parts of the festival instead of paying full price (£28) for the whole event. But we also want to make sure we’re making it easy and accessible for anyone who wants to see everything and get stuck in! We also offered a limited run of early bird tickets on announce for a discounted price which were £15 for full day passes. We sold out within minutes which is very exciting! 

Stay tuned for more coverage of the event, including interviews with the acts in the run-up to the festival. A festival whose acts encompass virtually every musical genre, in down-the-road venues that save the tedious taxi struggle home? Count me in, and count the celebratory pints of Guinness I’ll be tanning too.

To avoid disappointment, grab your tickets now from seetickets.com.