The Bloody Muppets performing at the QMU

The dying lifeline of small music venues

6 mins read

Friday July 28 was most likely an ordinary day for most, but for three small but upcoming bands, it was groundbreaking and really reflected how meaningful small music venues are.

That night, 70 people packed into the University of Glasgow’s sweaty but eclectic student’s union, the QMU, for a mere £5 gig named “DVD Menu”, produced by my friend Heidi to showcase our friends music.

Evie Tungatt performed a mesmerizing acoustic set, with covers ranging from Arctic Monkeys to Lana Del Rey, her beautiful voice left our entire group of friends in awe.

Evie Tungatt performing at the QMU. Image Credit: Daniel Carson Fury

The enigmatic Don’t Ask Me What My Social Security Number Is delivered a distinct comedic-hip hop performance which certainly interested the crowd.

Polygamy, hailing from Manchester, followed on with very rock but prodigious songs, amping the crowd up for the main headliners, The Bloody Muppets.

Performing on the same stage that Nirvana once did, The Bloody Muppets produced a hypnotic ensemble, from covers of ‘Stereo’ by The Pavements and their cult classic ‘Creep’, to captivating originals like ‘When The Movie Ends’. In my thoroughly unbiased opinion, they are going to solidify their name in the Glasgow music scene soon enough. 

For many of you, these bands and their unique sounds may seem irrelevant to you, but for my friends and I, watching them all perform on stage surrounded by the people we care most about was riveting, and certainly reminded many of how important these smaller and forgotten venues are.

DVD Menu is only one example of the hundreds of gigs put on every week that feed spirit into the lifelines of small venues

For many artists starting out in the music industry, their lifelong goal would be to play some of the biggest venues in the world such as the Madison Square Gardens, but it’s these smaller venues such as the QMU or King Tuts that everyone starts off in. It is these places that they run or call to when they need a place that feels like home.

But since the composing of these 10,000+ capacity venues, people have been favouring shows held there, but they lack the vibrancy of these smaller venues.

They lack the deep connections between the small number of fans, all crumbling from the intense emotions radiating in their minds from seeing their favourite acts who have unknowingly played such a big role in their lives.

Bands such as The 1975, Oasis, and Radiohead still reminisce on their time playing smaller venues, with Liam Gallagher returning to King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut during November 2017 to record a music video for his song ‘Come Back To Me’ .

Over the years, many well-known venues have been shut down or have been threatened to be, such as the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow.

Although it is still a functioning venue, the Glasgow City Council’s planning applications committee approved plans for 109 new flats and a commercial space to be built.

This will directly affect the historic building as the live music will cause issues for the new residents in their noise-sensitive residences that could impact an imminent closure.

Bands and artists such as Big Thief, Jake Bugg, and First Aid Kit have all performed there, but with the councils decision, there are extensive fears that future bands will never be able to hold that achievement again.

The Bloody Muppets performing at the QMU. Image Credit: Daniel Carson Fury

Small music venues allow freshly created bands to hone their craft, gain on-stage confidence, and steadily increase their fan base.

The unease over the future of venues like the QMU will only get worse in the years to come.

Young teenagers within music classrooms around the world will be hysterical over dispensing their music into small live venues for the first time freshly out of high school.

However, with more and more venues getting shut down, there is a fear that it’s also going to happen to their dreams.

Music will soon be exclusively discovered through viral sounds on TikTok or through “nepotism babies” who received stardom from their famous parents.

That’s why gigs like DVD Menu, held in a student’s union for £5 a ticket and allowing four different young acts just starting out to perform in front of an audience, are extremely significant.

They allow creative freedom to flourish and provide an emotional intensity for the bands performing that is indescribable.

You’ll never experience a joy quite like listening to music in a small group in such a nostalgic setting.

Featured Image Credit: : Daniel Carson Fury/@danicelcfphotos via Instagram

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BA(Hons) International Politics and Languages
Politics and Music journalist

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