Living in the centre of Glasgow, buskers are a commonplace, especially on the weekends. There is always a weird and wonderful variety of musical talent on display on the streets, from noisy drumming groups to solo artists of all ages. The most common seem to be teenage boys and their guitars doing a variety of covers and sometimes their own material.
Busking can be a fantastic way to gain exposure, with many artists now taking advantage of the social media trend by having self-promoting signs with them as they sing, directing people to their Twitter/Facebook/Soundcloud pages. That’s not the only sign of technology – many of them now perform with microphones and amplifiers in an attempt to be heard amongst the bustle of the city centre.
Whilst I would generally call this a good thing, it can be a bit irritating as you try to manoeuvre through the hoards of people on a Saturday afternoon, unable to hear yourself think over the ten different Ed Sheeran covers blasting from overloud amplifiers, surrounded by thirteen year old girls. Sometimes you can’t even hear them sing because they’re drowning themselves out with their guitars.
It’s these types of artists that I can’t help but feel are victims of The X Factor generation. Whilst it might not be totally fair to say, it can come across like these artists are busking to provide footage for their audition tapes and I can already hear their sentimental speeches about how hard they’ve worked to fulfil their dreams of being the next Harry Styles.
It’s not all bad though. Sometimes you can find a real gem as you wander by. My personal favourites are a saxophone player who can be found playing a few evenings a week, as well as two accordion players who only appear sparingly on the occasional Saturday afternoon.
These acts are my favourite because they are unusual and understated. These are the kinds of acts that don’t have to rely on amplifiers and microphones to be heard, instead they use their genuine talent to attract listeners, and they are often very successful.
NOTE: All images are my own.
Garage is one of Glasgow’s numerous well-known student nightclubs. It is also the home to an impressive music venue where numerous gigs take place every week. I hated Garage as a nightclub but ended up going back last October to see Andrew WK and Marky Ramone.
My expectations were very low considering my hate of Garage, but I was really impressed by not only the show but also Garage itself, with the upstairs music venue providing a much more enjoyable experience than the club.
Andrew WK and Marky Ramone were in Glasgow for the conclusion of their world tour. I’d always liked the Ramones but had little interest in Andrew WK, who I only really knew for his song ‘We Want Fun’, which had featured on the soundtrack of the Jackass movie.
The gig turned out to be brilliant – a relentless assault of some of the Ramones’ best known songs, from Rock ‘N’ Roll High School to Pet Semetary. It was great to see Marky Ramone still so full of energy on the drums, and Andrew WK made for an energetic frontman, working the crowd up into a frenzy.
Together, the pair did a fine job in reinstating my faith in Garage, as a music venue at least.
Here’s an interview with the pair about the tour and punk rock in general:
Image credits: http://spinningplatters.com/2013/10/09/spinning-platters-interview-andrew-w-k-on-marky-ramones-blitzkrieg/
Glasvegas are a band originally hailing from Glasgow. The foursome were formed in 2003 and released their third full length album, ‘Later…When The TV Turns To Static’ last September. Currently touring the United States, where they have been based since 2010, it is inspiring to see the loyal fan base that the Scottish rockers have garnered across the globe.
I first came across Glasvegas in 2008 when they released their debut album, ‘Glasvegas’. The album, released by Columbia Records, enjoyed incredible success and went Platinum. The black and white cover (see below), inspired by Van Gogh’s ‘The Starry Night’, caught my attention despite me having never heard of the band.
The album went on to become one of my favourites that year, with catchy indie rock songs such as ‘Daddy’s Gone’ and ‘Geraldine’ proving to be firm favourites.
I admired how the band took influence from a number of different genres, with songs such as ‘It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry’ having clear connections to old Honky Tonk music from the likes of Hank Williams, whilst other songs such as Stabbed used Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata as a dramatic backdrop.
Fast-forward five years and the band are now touring to support the release of their latest album, ‘Later…When the TV Turns to Static’. I have to admit that whilst the album performed well commercially and was met with mostly favourable reviews, I was not that impressed. Success and a move to the States has led the band to gain a more commercial, polished sound they didn’t have on their debut and I feel Glasvegas, now performing to a global audience, may have lost some of the Glasgow fans that supported them in the beginning.
Visit the band’s website here: http://glasvegas.net/
Image credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Glasvegas_eponymous.jpg