6 Venues within 6 Minutes | Gerry McKeever

3am, Sauchiehall St, the girl with the orange face screams and lashes out at her worse-for-wear boyfriend. He  replies by shouldering his way through the crowds and eye balling everyone within five meters while an unfortunate uses a cheese chip as a makeshift pillow.

If this particular experience is not quite cutting it, or if you fancy a change, what does one of the world’s most respected musical cities have to offer its hordes of council-tax dodgers without forcing us to break a sweat? Here are Gum’s six spots within six minutes walk of campus (give or take a few pints) that have something a bit more interesting to offer…

Brel

The closest to home of our six picks is the jewel in Ashton Lane’s crown. Brel is quickly becoming one of the coolest places around, with Guardian Travel voting it Glasgow’s 3rd best live music venue earlier this year. As somewhere many of us probably pass at least twice a day, it should not be allowed to blend into the scenery. Named after Belgian legend Jacques Brel, this pub is living up to its names’ musical heritage, with recent gigs by Glasvegas and Noah and the Whale. This year sees a new regular Thursday spot called “Concrete Campfire” showcasing up-and-coming indie bands, on top of the established Saturday afternoon jazz. With DJs at weekends and a new Sunday spot in the pipeline, Brel is pushing itself as a music-pub. However, as everyone knows there’s only one real reason to go to a Belgian pub. As owner Robin Morton says: “We specialise in mussels frites and Belgian beers” so Brel really is a beer-connoisseur’s wet-dream. Given its location and the variety of interesting things happening, Brel is a good shout, especially if the walk into town and the orange peope seem a bit daunting.
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Tchai Ovna

As the undisputed Mecca of all things tea, Tchai Ovna has a special place in the heart of many among us, and is an interesting alternative option for a cheap night out. Come evening it becomes a cosy little venue, which sees everything from the brilliant to the simply bizarre. “I tend to book folk, jazz and world gigs where possible” explains Tchai’s Ken. Anything with a high level of musicianship and/or unusual instrumentation is a dead cert.” The unique atmosphere is a combination of a non-drunk audience and the ramshackle living-room styled decor, which can make for a really nicely chilled evening. It’s also only a few quid to get in to the gigs (entry is free the rest of the time) and there’s the option of sitting outside and smoking a Shisha to show off your smoke rings. Obviously it’s all about the tea really, and sipping some wonderful brews is a great way to soak in a gig. Tchai Ovna is an easy place to fall instantly in love with, and it’s definitely worth a shout when some low-key time is needed – GUM advises a cup of yogi yogi chai on the inevitable hazy Sunday after a heavy night of that world famous Glasgow fun.

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The Captain’s Rest

Since it reopened earlier this year, The Captain’s Rest has been a massive success attracting many a famous act. Promoter Simon Liddell describes it as “not only a much needed live music venue for the West End, but also a fresh nightspot for Glasgow’s Indie masses. It combines the comfort of a traditional pub with the perks of a live music venue.” The Captains Rest has a wealth of tantalizing events taking place, with the year already having seen some epic gigs by the likes of Frightened Rabbit and Future of the Left while its pre-Christmas calendar may cause some West Enders to boycott town altogether. As for the place itself, it does achieve a strange yet somehow comforting mix of old-man’s pub (the scene of the single most hilariously awful karaoke display I have ever witnessed) and grimy/trendy indie spot. All in all, an essential haven for those prone to waffling about semi-obscure bands while necking absurd quantities of yellow beverages, and if that does not tickle your fancy then fear not – according to its MySpace The Captain’s Rest is single and Sagittarius so you might just get your grove on and get lucky!

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The Rio Cafe

This odd little bar is a surprising place to find such a fine selection of music. The 50’s American diner-themed decor sets off the diverse weekly and monthly musical offerings, giving a night spent in The Rio a bizarre time warped feel. A few too many drinks and you could find yourself in an air-hostess outfit driving a Cadillac with great balls of fire burning through your panties. There is something on almost every night, including Cabaret, Acoustic Night, Poker, DJs, Spoken Word and a top Jazz night featuring some of Scotland’s foremost players. However Gum recommends The Lazy Daze Open Stage every Tuesday, an event which must surely be one of Glasgow’s best Open Mic nights. Host Michael ‘The Acoustic Butterfly’ invites “musicians to bring your weapon of choice or use the house guitar, bass or percussion setup.” Starting around 8pm this is a perfect chance to showcase your talent get to grips with being on stage or even just to check out the wonders of Hyndland’s hip little time-machine.

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The 78

Located just south of the Kelvingrove Park is the cosy-yet-stylish 78, though you may remember it as Stereo, it’s previous incarnation. Thursday night at the 78 plays host to the wonderful Dub and Grub, hosted by Mungos Hifi. Now in its sixth year, this night is a favourite for two pretty self-explanatory reasons, Dub AND Grub, yay!: “The DJs take turns in cooking and playing” explains  Doug from Mungos HIfi. “Each week has a different menu of freshly cooked fare with the tunes ranging from old Ska and Rocksteady, through Roots-Reggae, Dub and Dancehall to Dubstep and Modern Reggae.” Combined with The 78’s dangerously good selection of designer ales and ciders, this night frequently results in a well-fed, half-cut wobble around to some crucial tunes. What’s more local legend/myth Ras Swampy is often found lurking outside treating unsuspecting smokers to a dose of mind-boggling stream-of-consciousness poetry. So as a precursor to a big Thursday night out, or even as the main event itself, Dub and Grub is a West End gem not too be missed – get down around 7 to be sure you get a table.

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The Halt Bar

The Halt is the bar of choice for many of the West’s talented hordes and is a real heavy-hitter in Glasgow’s underground music scene. Everything from a-tonal noise-punk to beautifully intricate folk can be stumbled upon here, but the reliably interesting and friendly crowd is definitely its strongest quality. Rob Smith, organiser of the Halt Hijack festival and many an excellent Saturday night gig, describes the scene as “interesting music, free entry and a dedication to providing as much support to the artists as possible.” This attitude has earned The Halt its intimate affiliation with the West’s music scene, its stage helping all kinds of budding artists move up the ladder. The exciting feeling that you may be watching tomorrow’s stars is a regular event as The Halt is often the first port of call for young bands looking to gig in the West End. Weekly events include Wednesday’s open-mic and Bazodee Sounds reggae-dancehall every Thursday. As a venue that tries to give as much support as possible to local talent, and a genuinely great place to hang out, The Halt Bar continues to be among the best joints around Glasgow.

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