A woman hold her hands up in the air to make the shape of a heart. She is in the midst of a crowd at a concert.
Credit: Anthony Delanoix

Glasgow: a musical history

By Olivia Marrins

A city with a culture deeply rooted in independent music tradition, Glasgow’s musical history reveals a place like no other.

Glasgow’s unique and compelling musical history is at one with the vibrancy of the city. This has always been a place so intimately involved with art and culture, and though its complexities and marvellousness can never be fully appreciated, I am sharing my small, personal connections to the artists and venues which are amongst Glasgow’s moments of great significance.

As the UNESCO city of music – having been awarded this in 2008 – Glasgow’s musical history would be lost without its venues. Home to the Barrowland Ballroom, The City Halls and King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, a map of halls and music stands illustrates the personal and ever-growing bond with those that live there.

On a personal note, the alternative 80s was a period of music I relate so closely to Glasgow, the Scottish music scene, and its effect on the wider UK music scene. Growing up with music being constantly played by my parents in the kitchen, the significance of 80s music in Scotland seemed to have such a settling impact on my own musical taste today. Bands like the Blue Nile or Simple Minds altered pop history in the UK, from the release of signature albums such as Hats’in 1989 or New Gold Dream in 1984, and alternatively appearing on cover after cover of Smash Hits. More so, with Postcard records being founded in 1979 and establishing a newfound indie scene, signing artists such as Aztec Camera and Orange Juice. Referred to as the Boomtime within Scottish music, this period in the 80s in Scotland was responsible for creating a diverse and eclectic scene for pop music. With London labels desperate to sign Glaswegian artists, the achievements born in Scotland allowed for events such as the Big Day in 1990, which enabled a voice to artists and Scotland in front of over 300,000 music lovers across various stages in Glasgow.

It is the contemporary indie music scene in Glasgow which continues to welcome new fans, always influenced by Scottish roots. New artists continue to emerge in both the international and underground communities. Major Scottish artists such as Primal Scream continue to maintain relevance, headlining Connect Festival in August, with smaller artists such as Joesef or Lucia and the Best Boys playing the stages of TRNSMT. One’s music taste is often compiled of music which influences a particular mood or feeling, thus the environments in which we enjoy this music have so much do with the impact on our mental state. Whether it be at home or in clubs such as Nice ‘N’ Sleazy and The Flying Duck, Glasgow provides a space intertwined with its cultural history and the people who live in it.


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