Credit: Lisa Paul

Freshers’ guide to the music in Glasgow

By Jodie Leith

“As this year shapes up to be a somewhat non-traditional induction to University life, a handy guide to Glasgow’s music scene may be just the thing for new students.”

Ah, Freshers’. As a home student, I wasn’t privy to the true entertaining hellscape that is Freshers’ Week, which could be cited as the most important week on a first year’s social calendar. Personally, I was more fixated on the possibility of free pizza (I spun a wheel-of-high-cholesterol and won a measly garlic and chive dip; gutting) than the baptism of fire that is most students’ first, drunken HIVE outing and subsequent, sketchy Murano afters. As a result of this lack of proximity, my own personal low was not a nauseating hangover, but instead, surrendering my data onto a Boohoo mailing list in return for a stale free doughnut.

Yet, as this year shapes up to be a somewhat non-traditional induction to University life, a handy guide to Glasgow’s music scene may be just the thing for new students. Whether it’s virtual, distanced, or back to normality; here are the top venues and artists for your respective favourite genre. Take it from me, a haggard third-year student, who has spent many a night going to gigs, drinking expensive vodka mixers, and thinking: Why did I leave the house for this?


Venues: Firewater, Nice N Sleazy, Broadcast, The Flying Duck, Bloc+, St. Lukes, Stereo & Mono

Artists: Declan Welsh & The Decadent West, Jack Brotherhood, Tongues, C Duncan,  Spyres, The Snuts, Twin Atlantic & dear asteroid

It’s no secret that Glasgow is renowned for its thriving indie and alternative scene. Artists like Belle and Sebastian, Edwyn Collins, Primal Scream, and Kurt Cobain’s all-time favourite The Vaselines have all laid the foundation for a rich and vibrant indie music scene. 

Lovers of indie music are well catered to in Glasgow and events like the across-city festival Tenement Trail boast an array of new talent to keep an eye on. Most of these venues aren’t just nightly gig haunts but excellent daytime bars. With many open for social distancing now, why not head to them for a quick drink while enjoying some indie tunes? Bonus tip: many serve excellent vegan cuisine too, so animal lovers of indie music are always welcome!

New Punk

Venues: 13th Note, Nice N Sleazy, King Tuts, McChuills, Priory & Barrowland Ballroom

Artists: The Dunts, Baby Strange, Voodoos, Rascalton, Gallus, Snash, The Van T’s, The Roly Mo, The Vanities, Catholic Action & The Bleeders

Going hand-in-hand with alternative, the punk revival sees some of Glasgow’s youth channel the anger of their Scottish punk predecessors, such as Bishopbriggs-formed The Exile, X-Ray Spex supporters The Jolt, and Gaelic anarcho-punk outfit Oi Polloi.

The New Punks can often be found attending Priory’s Club Sabbath night and releasing somewhat satirical, yet impressive punk-takes on pop hits for extra edgy points; see The Dunts cover of Hey Ya or The Roly Mo’s Bad Romance

The popularity of these bands shouldn’t be underestimated, with both The Dunts and Catholic Action among the many Glasgow bands to play the American South by Southwest festival. 

Alternatively, for more metal/punk fans, attending Cathouse might just be the ticket. Personally, I haven’t been, as the goths hanging around the McDonalds at Glasgow’s Four Corners intimidate me greatly.

80s Revival

Venues: Buff Club, Polo Lounge, Popworld, Missoula & any of the alternative/punk venues

Artists: The Ninth Wave, Walt Disco + Lucia & The Best Boys

Following in the footsteps of 1980s Scottish sensations like Strawberry Switchblade, Simple Minds, Cocteau Twins, and The Jesus and Mary Chain, bands like the Bowie-esque Walt Disco, Madonna-inspired Lucia, & The Best Boys and The Cure-channelling The Ninth Wave carve an exciting new path for the retro synth-pop fans of the city. 

Conversely, for more mainstream disco-lovers, venues like Buff Club, Popworld, and LGBTQ+ inclusive Polo Lounge provide your dose of 80s funk and disco anthems. Just watch the dancefloor fill with freshly single folk as Young Hearts Run Free plays and relive your Saturday Night Fever fantasy.


Venues: Subclub, La Cheetah, The Art School, SWG3, The Poetry Club & Berkeley Suite

Artists: TAAHLIAH, Wuh Oh, SOPHIE, Big Miz, Denis Sulta, Fergus Clark, Jasper James, Hudson Mohawke, Sofay & LAPS

Glasgow’s electronic scene is, again, historically iconic. Born in the “raveheart” heyday of Glasgow in the 90s, the house scene is just as impressive now as it was then.

In recent years, Glaswegian SOPHIE has enjoyed success and collaborated with the likes of Madonna, Charlie XCX, and Vince Staples. Additionally, anarchic female dub-meets-house duo Ladies as Pimps (LAPS) had their industrial techno track Who Me? played at Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty 2018 New York Fashion Week show. Glasgow-born Hudson Mohawke contributed to Kanye West’s Yeezus album and has worked with the likes of Drake, Pusha T, and A$AP Rocky.

To say the techno scene in Glasgow is dead is a sheer lie, as the house scene is as vibrant as ever, despite the clampdown on illegal raves. Arguably, the epicentre is venue Subclub which recently, at the risk of closure due to COVID-19, saw fans of the venue, including Calvin Harris, raise more than £110,000.


Venues: Buff Club, Blue Arrow, + most clubs 

Artists: A B (Abdull Oun), kitti, Joesef + more

Perhaps a slightly more up-and-coming genre, Glasgow’s recent R&B/soul/jazz scene is one to watch. Artist A B recently told Glasgow Live that Kanye West’s label has expressed interest in his music; rising star kitti has had her soulful vocals compared to the legend Amy Winehouse. The extremely popular Joesef has teamed up with Loyle Carner on recent hit I Wonder Why; all whilst remaining highly humble and equipped with the signature Glaswegian self-deprecating humour. It’s clear this genre and its many talented artists are worth keeping track of.

Wherever you go or whoever you listen to, it’s clear Glasgow hosts some of the most talented and interesting musicians in the world. When venues re-open, freshers new to Glasgow should experience the Glasgow gig first-hand. No matter the gig, you’ll find yourself part of a crowd of welcoming people with an atmosphere second to none.


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