Glasgow is a city steeped in musical history when it comes to dance music. Whether that be in the shape of the bastion of underground house music that is the Subclub or the game-changing labels that emerged from the city’s thriving scene over the years. From Soma to Optimo these labels have provided a platform for some of the most exciting electronic artists on the planet whilst the clubbing scene continues to flourish despite adversity. That being said there is a still hard-fought battle to be won, a point proven by the Sub Clubs’ temporary closure during Lockdown and the loss of legendary venue the Arches back in 2015.
With the Subclub still going strong, one could be forgiven for thinking all was well across clubland in Glasgow. However, like many other cities across the UK, it faces a sea of restaurant openings, gentrification and stricter licensing regulations which make succeeding in today’s post-Covid market an increasingly tricky prospect. Across the UK, many of the bigger promoters opt for the safe option, booking the familiar treadmill of headliner names who are guaranteed to swell the coffers. It poses a serious question about whether there is still a space for smaller independent venues and club nights to succeed. Fortunately, some local promoters are fighting back, determined to invest in the underground selectors they believe in and the music they love. Passenger promoter Daniel Sharkey is one such character and his night, which is this evening located in the intimate events space Box Hub, has already seen the likes of Terry Francis grace the decks. By his own admission it has been a battle to even break even, but his course is set on keeping underground house music alive and kicking.
Tonight, sees the return of Glasgow’s own Funk D’Void, a name known across the global dance community for his 2001 epic deep techno dancefloor destroyer ‘Diabla’ but a DJ also widely regarded by those in the know as one the best underground house selectors around. However, first up is Milton Jackson who opens the night with a set of jacking deep tribal cuts, taking the floor from head-nodding appreciation to full-on party mode. Digging deep, he pulls out Didier Sinclair and Chris Pi’s lesser-known gem ‘Groove 2 Me’ and works the floor masterfully. He’s followed by Jay Gunning, who provides a full-throttle set of party stomping house and techno cuts, with grooves like Satoshi Tomiie’s ‘Bassline’ (with its familiar Chicago house refrain) working the floor well. By the end of his breathless set, it’s difficult to know how to follow the brute energy of his performance but the big Scotsman does not miss a beat. Sandberg starts fierce but then gradually notches down the bpms, stopping off for gorgeous deep house beauties such as Jimpster’s brilliant remix of ‘District’ by Bassfort before building to an epic conclusion. As ever, he straddles genres with aplomb veering his course through tougher deep techno, deep house and Detroit sounds all dished out with a smattering of Balearic pianos and old-school references.
Having relocated to Barcelona some time ago, it is the first time the Glaswegian has been back in five years and his return set is greeted with an exuberant response from the local crowd. In fact, one of the most refreshing things about the evening is the complete lack of pretension, genuine warmth and up-for-it nature of the Passenger punters. The diverse age range is immediately apparent, and we bump into one woman who tells us proudly she is there with her twenty-year-old son. The mix seems completely natural and perhaps something a little different in the clubbing landscape of Glasgow. All too soon, we are off back out into the icy blast of the Glasgow night air but just maybe Passenger with its unique community of clubbers at its core has planted a seed that could grow into something rather special.