Glasgow is home to a celebrated community of DIY musicians and a great selection of venues which keep their scene alive. The city is also a favourite stop for touring musicians, whether they’re just starting out or hitting the big time. From tiny underground haunts like The Old Hairdresser’s to iconic, long-standing institutions like The Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow has a venue for just about any musician or music fan.
Housed under a unique domed roof which you could spot a mile away, Mono is a glowing hotspot for Glasgow’s creative community. It functions as a vegan restaurant, bar and venue space for a diverse programme of events. It’s also home to Monorail music, a carefully curated record shop co-owned by Stephen McRobbie of The Pastels. The skylight floods the spacious, tastefully decorated interior with natural light during the day, making it the ideal place to enjoy an afternoon pint or two with pals. By night, you’ll often find stalwarts of the local DIY music scene performing here alongside touring artists like Black Midi, The Orielles and The Raincoats.
Mono’s sister venue Stereo is another pillar of the local music scene, located just minutes away from Glasgow Central Station. It occupies a striking Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed building which used to be home to the Daily Record printing works. Upstairs there’s a trendy bar and restaurant with a great selection of drinks and an inventive vegan menu – you can’t leave without sampling their legendary buffalo cauliflower wings! The basement venue has played host to a countless number of leftfield artists hailing from Glasgow and further afield, including the likes of LYLO, Kikagaku Moyo and Hannah Diamond.
The Old Hairdresser’s
If you’ve had a couple pints in Stereo and fancy a quick change of scene, nip across the road to The Old Hairdresser’s. Inside you’ll find a sparsely decorated, two-tiered bar with exposed brick walls and a wood panelled mezzanine. It’s a cavernous, dimly lit space with a low-key vibe, making it the ideal spot for a relaxed pre or post-gig drink. The intimate venue space upstairs serves as a blank canvas for underground gigs, club nights and exhibitions alike – last year it was the venue of choice for Glasgow’s homegrown ‘Freakender’ festival. Genre wise, expect to hear anything from no-wave to folk to avant-pop.
The Flying Duck
Another favourite haunt for local musicians, just a short walk away from Glasgow’s central retail district. Head downstairs from the street level entrance and you’ll find a spacious bar complete with kitsch decor and a vegan junk food menu (psst – you can bag a free meal if it happens to be your birthday!). A variety of events take place in the bar, including drag karaoke, the weekly ‘Flying Dug’ quiz, film screenings and comedy nights. Wander through to the venue space and you might stumble across some first rate psych rock or freak pop followed by a sweaty club night.
The Hug and Pint
A vegan bar, eatery and music venue in Glasgow’s west end named after the Arab Strap song “Monday at the Hug and Pint.” Since opening its doors in 2015 The Hug and Pint has quickly become a favorite among locals with its friendly atmosphere, great selection of drinks and creative pan-Asian menu. It has a minimalist yet cosy interior, with simple wooden furniture and playful, block colour murals painted on the walls. The basement venue is small, but it doesn’t disappoint – over the past five years it’s seen performances from a steady stream of top-notch artists, including Skinny Pelembe, Big Thief and Mitski.
The Glad Café
A lovely, community minded venue nestled in the Shawlands area of Glasgow’s southside. You’ll have to take the train or bus here from town, but it’s well worth the effort. As usual, delicious vegetarian food is on the menu, great beers are on tap and you even can flick through their in-house arts and literature zine, The Glad Rag. They also run a thrift shop next door which puts its profits towards providing free and affordable music workshops for local people. Their 150 capacity venue is frequented by a fine selection of indie, folk and electronic artists. It’s also home to the resident Glad Community Choir, who you can catch singing here every Tuesday for £3.
Òran Mór (Gaelic for ‘melody of life’) is a multi-purpose arts and music venue set in a converted church in Glasgow’s west end. The building itself is quite something to behold, and the ceiling of the auditorium is adorned with a stunning mural painted by the celebrated Scottish artist and writer Alisdair Gray. It’s slightly more bougie than most of the other venues on this list, but maintains a welcoming atmosphere. It’s a favourite among folk and roots musicians and one of the few venues where you can catch stadium worthy artists in a more intimate setting.
Nice N Sleazy
One of Glasgow’s longest serving alt music venues and the touring musician’s favourite spot for a post gig piss-up. Despite the grungy interior and rock-heavy bar playlist, Sleazys doesn’t cater exclusively to indie bands – nowadays you can find just about any genre shaking the basement walls, from acid techno to jazz to 90s R&B. The kitchen currently serves Japanese style bar food with plenty of options for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. And, most importantly, where else can you order a white russian for £3.50 at 2am on a Tuesday morning?
Your Tuesday morning pub crawl needn’t end at Sleazys – you can pop in to Broadcast next door for one for as long as you’re out by 3am. Broadcast was opened in 2013 by promoters PCL to fill the void left by their previous cafe-bar-venue, The Captain’s Rest. It’s got a reasonably priced menu of junk food favourites and a well-stocked bar, but it scores most highly for consistently churning out a great programme of local and touring artists. Recent headliners include the likes of Teeth of the Sea, Working Men’s Club and Föllakzoid.
The Barrowland Ballroom
One of Glasgow’s most iconic venues, known for its flashy neon fronted entrance, impressive acoustics and sprung dance floor. The original Barrowland Ballroom was built as a dance hall in 1934 by local entrepreneur Maggie McIver, aka “The Barras Queen”. After being mostly destroyed by a fire in 1958 the ballroom was rebuilt and reopened its doors in 1960. It now functions as a major concert venue, having played host to rock and pop royalty like David Bowie, Björk, Bob Dylan and Britney Spears. It remains a firm favourite among touring musicians, with Northern Irish punk band Stiff Little Fingers having played a sold out show here every St Patricks day since ‘92!
BLOC+ is an unpretentious, neon-lit basement bar and venue bang in the centre of Glasgow. It hosts an eclectic mix of gigs and a rotating roster of club nights which are always free of charge. You’re bound to discover something you like here, whether it’s Italo disco, math rock or neo-soul. You can also be fed and watered for well under a tenner at BLOC+ with their ridiculously cheap daily deals – pop by on a Tuesday and grab a burger and fries for £3. A great place to get a taste of the local scene without burning a hole in your pocket.
The Space is a socially conscious community arts venue located in Glasgow’s east end. It’s run by the charity People Without Labels which aims to tackle poverty and isolation within the local community. Inside you’ll find a pay as you feel cafe and community shop, studio spaces to rent (at very affordable rates) and a 150 capacity venue where an eclectic variety of events take place. Recent highlights include a headline show from local psych rock favourites The Cosmic Dead and DJ sets from Rebecca Vasmant of Worldwide FM.
The CCA (Centre for Contemporary Arts) is a multipurpose arts centre housed in the Grecian Chambers on Sauchiehall Street. The building was previously home to The Third Eye Centre in the 70s and 80s which hosted performances and exhibitions from artists such as Allen Ginsberg and Edwin Morgan. Nowadays it continues to function as a major cultural hub for Glasgow, offering a venue space, cafe, gallery, workspace and a well curated programme of events throughout the year. The 290 capacity venue space has played host to the likes of Spinning Coin, Khruangbin and Bill Ryder-Jones.
SWG3 is a multi-disciplinary venue and arts space in the west end of Glasgow. It may not be destined to reach the same legendary status as the fabled club and venue The Arches, but SWG3 has done a great job of helping to fill the void left since its closure. Located just north of the River Clyde in a giant warehouse, it’s made up of several venue spaces (Poetry Club, Warehouse, TV Studio, Galvanizers and Galvanizers Yard) with capacities ranging from 125-5000. A variety of club nights, gigs and festivals take place in the indoor and outdoor spaces, with artists like LCD Soundsystem and Optimo gracing the stage in recent years.