Continuing on our Jukebox Journey through some of Glasgow’s most reputable music venues, Benny Robb visits King Tut’s to check out their selection of tunes and sample the much-celebrated atmosphere of the place…
Perhaps the most infamous of all live music venues within Glasgow’s broad-spanning and vibrant collection is King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut. Situated just out of the centre of town, downstairs off an unassuming main road and often quiet during the day, visitors could be forgiven for not realising the true potential of this legendary venue. Since opening in 1990, Tut’s secured its place in Glasgow’s music history as one of the “best live music venues”, as awarded by BBC Radio1 in 2002 and more recently, NME Magazine.
The bar, open all day long serving food and drinks, has a very laid back and regular-pub feel to it. When walking in to Tut’s during the day it displays few of the features associated with a young, vibrant and active live music venue. Quiet, small with a very relaxed attitude, plenty of free seats and music playing at an almost unnoticeable volume, the place leads us into a false sense of thinking this venue might not have played host to early-career performances of great bands such as Radiohead, The Strokes and Beck.
When attending a live gig in the evening however, this small venue really comes to life with an atmosphere unrivalled by many bigger and busier Glasgow music spots and often packing out its limited 300 person capacity to great affect.
All live performance attributes aside, I visited this much-celebrated venue on a quiet, sunny July afternoon to examine its Jukebox credentials and sample some of its liquid offerings along the way. When asking bar staff about the jukebox I was, to my slight dismay, met with confused looks and a distinct lack of knowledge or interest in who or what went into making their coin-operated music machine tick… “It hasn’t been updated in years” was the most detail I could acquire from staff working at the time.
So, after being given free rein to explore the bar and flick through the jukebox’s musical selection, I did just that.
The King Tut’s jukebox, despite being placed right at the very front end of the bar, is fairly discreet as it subtly merges with the unassuming decor of the small bar area. The music held within fits with this unobtrusive and unsurprising vibe, offering a thorough selection of classic albums ranging from David Bowie to De La Soul and LCD Soundsystem.
At first glance, this selection, packed with modern classics and truly great artists as it is, seems relatively uninspired and out of date. I was, however, excited to see a Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers (one of the bands who played our Glasgow Music Tour Launch in King Tut‘s itself) LP sitting in amongst the audible choices. That fact alone almost changed my perceptions of this seemingly forgotten jukebox until I realised the great Glasgow band are signed to King Tut’s record label, therefore a fairly effortless move on their part we can assume.
From a venue that boasts such an active and innovative live music scene, drawing such a diverse range of age groups and people interested in all different genres, it seems the jukebox priorities have fallen far behind that of the live gigs. This can be considered as no bad thing when experiencing the true Tut’s; a packed out, loud and rowdy venue full of energy and the thrill of new musical experiences.
So King Tut’s, despite perhaps not providing the most shining example of a great jukebox, has prioritised in the right areas in order to rightfully claim the title of one of the best live music venues in Glasgow, the UK – and maybe even the world.
To find out more about King Tut’s, its history and bands that have played there, you can download our Glasgow Music Tour Route 3.