The Glasgow Barfly has closed. Scotland’s central Barfly situated on the bank of the Clyde had been home to many gigs over the years and was a favourite amongst the rock crowd. Barfly opened their first venue in 2000 in Camden town then went on to have homes in Birmingham, Brighton, Cambridge, Glasgow, Cardiff, Liverpool, London, York and Aberdeen. A division of the MAMA group things had been going well for the Barfly in the first few years, with a successful reputation as an alternative venue and attachment to the popular Lovebox Festival and Fly magazine.
However the economic downturn affects everything and with music being the 3rd largest industry in the UK no-one is immune (except for AC/DC). Since June 2008 Barfly have closed their Brighton, Cambridge and now Glasgow venues. There is talk of re-opening Cambridge in the future and Glasgow have only said ‘closed until further notice’ on their doors but any actual plans remain to be seen.
The Glasgow Barfly is a curious wee venue, its dark, its a bit dank and the sound quality wasn’t always great but it was a beloved corner of Glasgow’s music scene as so many local bands have played there. Staff were given extremely short notice about the closure which has perhaps soured community feeling towards the Barfly chain. Gigs have been moved to the Sauchiehall street club giant The ABC, large theatrical and commercially viable O2 Academy and the underrated and cosy Ivory Blacks – including the YRock top of the class 2009 gig which will be held at the ABC on Sunday 22nd from 2pm until 9pm.
However do not despair music fans, for Glasgow is not short on venues!!! There is a lot of competition in the city for music crowds and many venues have up-ed the ante in recent years by making their place a wee bit special and paying due attention to sound equipment and pr. This kind of competition could well have been a factor in the Barfly closure. Nice ‘n’ Sleazy’s for example have an excellent PA which makes gig-going a real audio treat while venues like Tchai Ovna have cultivated a folksy alternative charm. An issue I have with the Glasgow music scene is diversity, the city festivals do offer the chance to sample a wider variety of music but the enthusiasm is short lived. The Deargreen place is a very rock and dance focused place and while theres a lot of really great bands and arists out there I wish we’d be a bit more supportive of new things, but maybe 2009 and will see a wealth of fresh talent – they just won’t be playing the Barfly.