Ben Bagley reflects on iconic Glaswegian venue The Garage after attending Sports Team's headline gig there.
Tucked away on Sauchiehall Street in the heart of Glasgow, The Garage prides itself on being Scotland’s "biggest, busiest, and best" nightclub. The Tardis-like establishment consists of six rooms, spread over four floors, with resident DJs playing everything from dance and house to indie and RnB music. It remains open 365 days a year: so if this year’s Christmas pudding isn’t cutting it for you, The Garage always remains an option.
Famous for its club nights, The Garage is additionally a sought-after live music venue. Having hosted iconic performances from Prince, One Direction and Biffy Clyro since its opening in 1994, it’s a diverse and well-established place to gig.
Last Wednesday night, I visited The Garage to watch the headline set of notoriously raucous up-and-coming alternative rock band Sports Team. You would be hard-pressed to find a more suitable venue for the self-proclaimed “best live act in the world”. The packed and alarmingly sticky dancefloor made for intense moshing during the six-piece’s relentless set of back-to-back indie bangers. Lead singer Alex Rice commandeered the stage of the club’s main hall in a manner akin to Mick Jagger after ten pints of Red Bull, bringing out a series of increasingly animated dance moves. During the set’s finale, Rice ventured into the crowd, parting the sea of bodies like post punk's answer to Moses. Before I knew it the leather-cladded frontman was standing next to me and requested I “get him up” for a final crowd surf. I obliged with alacrity and Rice floated above the, now fairly sweaty, mele of New Romantic indie haircuts in a semi-biblical fashion.
The crowd dispersed at ten o’clock to make way for The Garage’s midweek club night. As tempting as ‘Easy Wednesdays’ sounded, I decided to make the short trip across the road to the legendary Nice N’ Sleazy bar for Sports Team’s after party. ‘Sleazy’s’ doubles as a bustling bar and gig venue. It’s a stalwart of the independent venue scene in Glasgow and a regular haunt for musicians. Eminent Glaswegian bands Mogwai and Belle and Sebastian both made names for themselves in the basement of Sleazy’s. I felt I was truly experiencing the essence of the city’s events scene.
One of the many joys of gigs in intimate venues such as these is the opportunity to chat with the band after the show. I was lucky enough to be able to talk at length with Sports Team, who had nothing but praise for Glasgow’s live music scene. The city is an ever-present on the band’s touring schedule and is a symbol of their meteoric rise, having made the step up from its small bars to sweaty nightclubs. Perhaps one day they will grace the stage of the Hydro, a not-quite-so-indie 14,300-seater arena sponsored by Scottish energy giants OVO…
The music scene in Glasgow is like no other in the UK. Venues like the iconic Barrowlands and legendary King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut – the scene of Oasis and Alan McGee’s union – span the city. It is therefore no wonder that Glasgow is the birthplace of such a plethora of musical talent. The Garage is no exception. It’s a charismatic no-nonsense, if a bit sticky, nightclub which makes the perfect space for a raucous concert.
So if you are looking for something a bit more exciting than your typical 601 club night, I recommend making the short train trip, or (as I learnt the hard way) much longer coach trip over for a night in Glasgow’s bustling city centre. Oh, and there’s a Wetherspoons too.
The Garage’s listings for November can be found at https://garageglasgow.co.uk/gig-listings/.
Photo: Steve Inman @ Rapid Tours