Where to Rock Out in Glasgow

Five can’t-miss live venues in Scotland's music capital
 

Barrowland Ballroom, photo by Euan Robertson

From legendary rock venues to classical concert halls, Glasgow’s live music scene is the envy of Europe. Here are five places that can’t be missed in this UNESCO City of Music.

Barrowland Ballroom

To see the Barras in full-swing, with amplifiers blaring and floorboards bouncing, is to be reminded of how passionate and energetic a Glaswegian crowd can be. A 2,000-plus capacity venue in the gritty East End, its stage always represents a homecoming of sorts for Scottish bands. See it at its most raucous when the likes of local heroes Primal Scream, Belle and Sebastian, Teenage Fanclub or The Proclaimers play.

Old Fruitmarket

Europe’s premier folk, roots and world music festival, Celtic Connections, takes place every winter, and this restored period-era market hall in the Merchant City is a hub for much of it. The rest of the year, come for the roots or classical concerts—it is home to the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, after all—but hold out for a traditional ceilidh, a night of Scottish folk dancing.

King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut

Tucked away from the city centre’s workday rush, this unobtrusive basement club hides underneath a stairwell as though it has been told off for making a racket. But don’t be fooled: King Tut’s has been in the business for nearly three decades and continues to be a staging post for up-and-coming acts. Over the years, the likes of Radiohead, Coldplay, Blur, Pulp, and Oasis have all played the 300-capacity venue.

SSE Hydro

Glasgow’s newest multi-purpose concert venue, the Hydro looks like it has landed from another planet on the banks of the River Clyde: it is a futuristic, architectural landmark reminiscent of a Star Trek spaceship. Holding up to 13,000 music fans, it’s as likely to host pop hair (Beyoncé) as it is hair metal (Black Sabbath).

Nice ’n’ Sleazy

If the walls of this famous nightclub on Sauchiehall Street could talk. This is where members of local favourites Snow Patrol, Mogwai and The Vaselines—once described as Kurt Cobain’s favourite songwriters in the world—still play and drink beer. It’s a scuzzy, punk venue, the kind that New York used to have in spades. Opened 25 years ago, its rock band antics are so adored that the waiting list to work here is years long.

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