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An introduction to Glasgow’s independent music scene

By Hannah Gribbon

Whether it’s legendary artists or legendary venues, Glasgow holds up as a city famed for its independent music.

Simple Minds, Franz Ferdinand, Belle & Sebastian. Some of the most recognisable names in the music industry. All these bands look and sound different, so what is it that they have in common? They all started out in Glasgow. The Glasgow music scene is unique. No other city can claim to have anything quite like it, with its vast range of bands, artists, and venues. What is it that makes the Glasgow independent music scene so unique?

In order to gain a better understanding of the music scene, I spoke to the band Pink Limit, a Glasgow-based Indie rock band formed in 2021. The band, who have so far released five singles, debuted with the song ‘Phoenix’ in 2022. They have grown quickly since this release, headlining the legendary King Tut’s, and signing with the record label ‘Electric Honey’, who have previously signed artists such as Belle & Sebastian and Snow Patrol. Pink Limit are a good representation of how the scene can kick start a musical career.

The beating heart of the Glasgow music scene is its vast array of venues. The most famous venues are obviously the larger ones such as the Hydro, but the best music can also be heard at the small intimate venues that facilitate the independent music scene: King Tut’s, The Oran Mòr, The Glad Cafe. Pink Limit believe that “the culture and history behind the venues in Glasgow is what makes them stand out within the UK in Europe”. So many famous bands such as Belle & Sebastian got their start playing these venues, and so many bands that play these venues now may go on to have equally successful careers.

The intimacy of these venues is a significant factor as well. In November of 2022 I saw the band Bar Italia at the Glad Café in Shawlands. After getting the train to the southside we arrived at the venue which prior to this concert I had never heard of. Your initial impression upon entrance is that it’s another run of the mill family restaurant, which did cause some confusion amongst my friends. That is until you walk through the inconspicuous door into a dimly lit room where the band would soon be playing. The venue lacks pretension. They do not ask for attention, instead they assume that all the bands that play will bring in an audience. The aim of Glad Café was to create an open, accessible, and supportive space, nurturing music and the arts in the heart of the south side. The room was full when the band emerged out of a black door to the left, slipped in, and started playing without any dramatic entrance. This for me represents the epitome of the Glasgow music scene, unpretentious, quality performances and quality music.

Glasgow is unique for the sheer size of the music scene in comparison to the size of the population, which it is currently sitting at around 600,000. Yet despite this, there are concerts every night, allowing for constant performances from a variety of musicians and bands. This is represented by the Tenement Trail, an indie music festival which will take place in October and will only last twelve hours. The festival sees performances in venues all over the city including Barrowlands Ballroom, and is a great way to experience the Glasgow independent music scene, especially if you are new to Glasgow. It is clear that Glasgow holds up as a great musical city for a variety of reasons, standing out as a city that is never quiet.


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