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Writer


Lloyd Russell explores Glasgow’s Priory Bar pre-lockdown and why this underrated venue remains at the heart of the Scottish music scene.

Nestled on the hedonistically neon-soaked Sauchiehall Street lies what many people in the music scene perceive as the heart of Glasgow’s punk scene, The Priory. Loud, screeching guitars accompanied by the crashing of drums provides an unapologetic soundtrack to many walking by the unassuming entrance of The Priory’s Club Sabbath night. Since its humble inception in 2014, the bar has hosted some of Glasgow’s biggest up-and-coming punk and indie rock artists and, in the process, become renowned as the place to play for many small bands trying to make it in a music industry that is becoming increasingly corporate and over-saturated. Indeed, there is an awe-inducing sense of authenticity and community within the small capacity of The Priory’s walls that is hard to undermine with its increasing popularity and reputation for wild, crowd surf-inducing gigs.

Staggering down into The Priory on a Saturday night, you are immediately overwhelmed by its loud and gritty atmosphere. Bright-haired young punks sip sparingly at their £3.50 can of Dark Fruits while the likes of Idles, Voodoos, and Rascalton blare at top volume, drowning out already incohesive, drunken conversations at the bar. The staff exude a very Glaswegian sense of friendly sardonicism when responding to the weather being cold as: “Well it is fuckin’ February, pal.” The initial exclusivity of The Priory is perhaps its biggest turnoff for many young people trying to enter such a close-knit punk scene. However, after four keenly priced ciders later, this is quickly overcome, as I find myself chatting to two construction workers in their late twenties from Cumbernauld. Both have been attending Priory since the age of 19 and consider themselves regulars of the bar. They gleefully inform me that the interior, staff, and stage have all remained, on the most part, surprisingly unchanged over the years.

To associate The Priory primarily with its somewhat pricey drinks and cliquey undertones vastly undermines its overall cultural and socio-political significance within the local Glasgow and wider Scottish music scene. It is a testament to the hard work and talent of the many bands and background figureheads that such a vibrant and diverse punk subculture exists in a city that is primarily associated with its house and techno scene. In many ways, the success of Club Sabbath confirms that there are many young people looking for more music and club nights that ascend beyond the mind-numbingly mainstream appeal of clubs like Bamboo, Shimmy, or Kokomo. 

Yet I wondered, is The Priory just a byproduct of 70s punk nostalgia? Or could it be Glasgow’s modern answer to The 100 Club in London or CBGB in New York?

There is a certain image that is conjured up when someone imagines the usual Priory punter. Ranging from young working-class boys enveloped in oversized Dickies and Docs to middle-aged men with long beards and old band tees to stylish punk girls with bright hair and studded boots. As a previous regular attendee to most small-band Glasgow gigs, you become familiar with certain faces and band members knocking about. It is these connections and sense of community that effectively link many of the band’s creative endeavours. 

In order to survive in such a competitive and ruthless industry, many people within this small yet thriving punk scene must have multifaceted careers branching off into different unknown territories. For instance, a lead singer of a large band could work for a new Scottish record label and also write songs and produce music for other bands like Club Sabbath co-founder Johnny Madden of Baby Strange. This is one of the reasons why the punk scene is so completely diverse and fresh to many young people. Regardless of stature, their starting point is The Priory.

It is well known within the punk scene that the frontman of Walt Disco, James Power, pulled pints at The Priory. Walt Disco are celebrated for their high-energy, flamboyant and theatrical appearances on stage, with performances reminiscent of the likes of David Bowie or HMLTD. Earlier this year, Walt Disco performed at The Priory to raise funds for their trip to play the (now cancelled) South by Southwest festival in America. The event was a huge success and a testament to the band’s overall progression and popularity. This was Priory at its finest. Drunken teenagers were crashing into speakers, young girls were swinging around pillars and middle-aged men were struggling not to drop their pints. 

18-year-old Finley Yates from Prestwick, a regular face at Glasgow gigs, describes the event vividly: “The band were genuinely mental. They were straight into it, no messing about. Their sound was genuinely as good live as on Spotify.” When asked about both the band’s unique style and Priory’s significance to the scene Finley responded: “I’d say it was incredibly significant to the scene as it seemed like everyone came out to support a great local band with their own style. The whole night had a friendly feel, as did the band”.

The Priory’s seemingly rough, punk attitude does not disguise the overall large sense of community within its walls. Many bands largely owe their initial success to The Priory for giving them exposure and, as a result, there is always a friendly atmosphere surrounding the pub, despite what the dingy toilets (reminiscent of Trainspotting) and candlelit tables might tell you. Beyond its rough exterior, the true overall significance of The Priory to local bands and even other concert venues within Glasgow cannot be overstated. The Priory is a fine example of what old punk clubs used to be like – it’s both a trip down memory lane and a glance into Glasgow’s current, promising musical talent. Its existence is integral to the survival and prosperity of the Scottish punk scene and, in a time of increased social and political dissatisfaction, the authenticity of The Priory may perhaps be an example for other venues to follow.


45 replies on “A punter’s perspective of Glasgow’s Priory Bar”

Fraz says:

How can you write a review on a place that sell drugs like there going out of fashion and allows under 18s almost all the time the place smells as well toilets are the more stinking than ma grans corpse canny even have a shit withing falling into the toilet that has no pan plus £3.50 for a 440ml can of anything is enough to turn you away even when all there drinks bought out the Tesco across the road worst place av ever been it’s needing shut down end of if you mibi go in undercover you’d actually see what it’s like place belongs in the fire pit of Mordor.

Grandad says:

Fraz! What have I told you about smelling your grand corpse?? Naughty boy!!! 😡

Bob Malcolm says:

Why do you know what your grans corpse smells like ya pervert

Brian Lamont says:

Wee fraz the grass ur in for it wee man

Fraz says:

I take it back. I’m just annoyed cos I couldn’t find my tadger in the toilet.

Fraz Isa Helmet says:

Who the fuck calls their waen Fraz anyway, go sniff more bodies creep

Tuna bagette says:

Hawl fraz we’ve aw smelt yer grans corpse big wow.
It’s yer maws howling tuna baquette beaver that’s the real stink.. Talking aboot yer daft maws didnae think about rearing a cunt cunt… Yer da should’ve come doon to the pub that night for a gid time insteed of Knockin you oot his one working testicle on yer nanas spare sofa bed hence the obvious raging wee man genes you seem to possess, what’s up wee ragin man did ye get a knock back at the door one night and went all to Coz a bloody storm with your sharp wit and heavy grassing tendencies.. I’m glad you don’t like the place shows they are doing well and turns the stomach of wee virgins like you.. Anyhow look forward to seeing ye caught on Facebook predators exposed or something aw the best

Billy Lewis says:

Fraz mer lit Graz ya wee wet wipe bastard. Commented on this and then went and ripped the heed aff it a bet. Would love for you to get a whiff a ma ring mate, cause it wld sober ye back to reality. Fud.

Frazer says:

With a name like Fraz, Priory not for you. Fanny.

Wee cheggy says:

Whits wrang fraz?
Do ye no like patsys?

Jim says:

Dark fruits are actually 3.25 or 2 for 6.50

Chucks Duru says:

Čhüçkś DÜrû

Snoutbhoy67 says:

You want anything fae taco bell Fraz buddy

PaulTheTim says:

Fraz has a tiny willy, solid source

S says:

Article is spot on. Great pub, great staff and great atmosphere where you’re always guaranteed a good night. Have been going to this boozer since it first opened and where a lot of my nights out end up!

FreeBert says:

Fraz a don’t think you know what your talking about, the punters which go to this establishment are some of the finest in the city.

Canny believe u fell doon the toilet ya wet arse

Richard Ashcroft says:

Came here after I played Trnsmt, great pub

Weeman says:

Priorys always been a class atmosphere and a gid place to go whit do you know any way Fraz you were stuck in the lavvy half the night ya fuckin dafty

kayleigh says:

Class wee venue 🤘🏼

Emily says:

A class place with class people. Always feel safe here and know that I’ll always be amongst friends no matter who’s in.

Rach says:

Class bar. Class staff. Class music. Class atmosphere. One of the only venues I would saunter into Glasgow city centre for 👏🏻

Sinead says:

Always have a class night there and everyone looks oot for eachother. Cracking place for gigs and new local music

Ainsley Harriot says:

The mezze platter is to die for. Book in advance. Tasting menu only on a Sunday but worth the 3 month wait.

Michael Vincent says:

Fraz is a grass pass it on

The Captain says:

Fraz would like to think you are being ironic with the alias seen as it is a slang term for the act of smoking marijuana. But then I realised someone who uses the terms ma, mibi and withing (what the fuck is withing). For someone who seems to know about the priory toilets you surely must realise the real comodity in the priory is not the drugs but the toilet paper.

Gemini Killer says:

Fraz is a Tory.

Nicola Sturgeon says:

Fraz, it’s cold out tonight. Make sure yer da is wearing his new Castore fleece when hes guarding they statues tonight 🥶

Mc says:

Great place with a great atmosphere! Seen the toilets were fixed Fraz so you can do a poo in peace!!

John O’Groats says:

Quality night out. Fraz = Grass

Burke & Hare says:

When was the last time you checked your granny’s corpse Fraz? She might no be there….

Big al says:

Try coming back fraz wee man a dare ye

Fraz says:

Am a helmet who smells deed grannies

bilbo baggins says:

Fraz, you’re at it. I’ve been to the fire pit of Mordor, you canny get a red stripe for £3.50 there. Tunes are shite in Mordor, it doesn’t have Wilson. You should really try the priory on its wine and cheese night.

Ian Mackinnon says:

Been a regular here since the place opened in 2013 (not 2014 as the article states). One of the very few places left in town that’s actually always decent and often great. Staff are all great as are the DJs. Can’t wait for it to properly open again.

D says:

The one place on Sauchiehall Street you’re guaranteed good music and a place full of punters that will genuinely look after you if you need it: from the staff, to the owner and to the regulars in the pub. The drink prices aren’t even steep and the money you’re spending goes directly to the staff and to keep the pub running as opposed to funding some fuck off chain that exploits their staff. Fuck off Fraz.

Steph says:

Been going to the priory for years and have never had a bad night there! I’ve been introduced to some incredible bands there too! Any chance Fraz is from a rival bar???

Chuks Duru says:

Best pub in Glasgow. Always a good night.

Take care,
Chuks x

J says:

Only dealing I’ve seen is the dealing of great patter. Fraz obviously a wee gimp.

Top boozer with class atmosphere. Hard to find places like the priory.

Fraz's Gran says:

Leave me alone ya wee bastard

Willie Lopez says:

This is Willies favourite bar.

Ed says:

Been in a few times over the years, once was a lock-in 😉 always leave wasted 🍺🥃. Crackin underground venue. Ed.

Deborah says:

Class comments! ❤️ This place x

John says:

Great wee venue,and a good,honest,warts-and-all article,Lloyd. Always end up in here after a gig. Lovely staff,good punters,and bangin’ sounds from Mr Wulsaan. 10/10

Dave Locock says:

Brilliant venue, many top nights, a place for the music scene across Scotland , not just Glasgow punk bands.

Eric Shun says:

Awk fraz, did Big Al knock you back? First time for everything

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