worth going out for in february 2018;

February 2018 is my two-year anniversary as new music columnist at The Scots Magazine, Scotland’s oldest magazine. It’s one of my favourite things I’ve ever done: a chance to wax lyrical about the music that I love, and to do so to a whole new audience. Plus, you can now buy the magazine in Morrisons, which gives my mum a monthly opportunity to show off my name in print to whatever poor bastard in the vicinity only came in for a pint of milk.

But writing for print does have its downsides, not least in that indie music doesn’t exactly have a stellar reputation for being organised in advance. Flash back to me, just before Christmas, trying to coax mah pals into telling me about their plans for February so that I’d have something to write about, while everybody else is planning for their holidays and trying to get their shopping done. On the flip side of that are all the cool things I don’t get to write about – all the press releases languishing in my inbox from people who foolishly thought that six weeks was plenty of notice to give me about their spoken word cabaret.

And so, in the spirit of trying to put some “culture” back into what I keep telling people is a “culture and lifestyle blog”, I present to you a new monthly feature. This one won’t just be music-based: think theatre, comedy, spoken word, cool events, all over Scotland. The one caveat? I’m writing for nobody’s audience but mine – but if you think you can talk me into leaving the house on a Tuesday night, please drop me a line via the usual channels.

If you’re looking for Glasgow-ish live music recommendations in particular, you should read this post in conjunction with my regular Gig Calendar.

1st February, Edinburgh
Flint & Pitch Presents: This Script (and other drafts) – a night of new work by Jenny Lindsay
Scottish Storytelling Centre, 7:30pm tickets

Like many of us, Jenny Lindsay – award-winning spoken word poet, Rally & Broad co-founder, now arts promoter/champion/mentor through Flint & Pitch – spent much of 2017 in a rage. But rather than scream into the void of Facebook comment threads (although she did a bit of that too), she channelled much of that anger into new work exploring sexual politics, gender and feminism, purposefully challenging herself by experimenting with univocal poetry and found poems based on comments on PornHub videos.

This Script is a “purposefully work-in-progress show”, in which Lindsay hopes to use her new work to challenge the “script” which women remain expected to follow, even in our brave new post-#MeToo world. A provocative, compelling and thought-provoking live performer, this show promises to be an incredibly special one.

Jenny Lindsay portrait by Ryan McGoverne

8th-11th February, Aberdeen
Various venues tickets/info

SPECTRA, Aberdeen’s annual festival of light, began five years ago as a tonic to the north east of Scotland’s dark, dreary winters, encouraging people and families to get out and explore the city via interactive sculpture, architectural projections, experimental music, light and play. Last year, the festival included a dedicated music strand for the first time – and this year, the programme has been expanded, hosting Nordic and UK acts at venues across the city.

The programme, which is supported by EventScotland, has been designed to tie in with the themes of the main festival but can be enjoyed on its own. So expect leading electronica from the likes of Plaid (Warp Records), Wrangler, Hidden Orchestra and Lindstrøm; Scottish and UK indie from Emma Pollock, Nányë, Cymbals and Mt Wolf; and spectacular A/V delights including Aberdeen’s own Fiona Soe Paing’s multimedia electronica show, Alien Lullabies.

Mt Wolf promo photo
Fiona Soe Paing portrait by Wes Kingston

And the party doesn’t stop when the music stops, because after the main music programme signs off for the night some of the world’s best DJs will take over the city. Among the big names appearing are James Orviss, fresh from the BBC Introducing stage at Amsterdam Dance Event; Cler Lever, the first female DJ to play the main stage at Creamfields; and Mental Overdrive, one of Norway’s most influential techno musicians.

13th-17th February, Glasgow
Beautiful: the Carole King musical
King’s Theatre, 7:30pm plus 2:30pm matinees on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday tickets

The Glasgow stop of the first UK and Ireland tour of the Olivier, Tony and Grammy award-winning musical, Beautiful is based on the early life and career of legendary singer-songwriter Carole King – and, in true “jukebox musical” style, features many of her greatest compositions both solo and with husband and co-writer Gerry Goffin. King will be played by Bronté Barbé, an accomplished stage performer and finalist in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s BBC1 TV series Over the Rainbow.

True story: I nearly tried to get a ticket for this in New York before I remembered the press release was sitting in my inbox. Hoping to make it along to press night, so expect a review on LYG later in the month.

Bronte Barbe as Carole King in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

15th February – 15th March, Glasgow
Sailor Jerry Presents: Jerry’s Open House
69 Houldsworth Street, G3 8ED info/tickets

I’m always a little cynical about branded pop-ups, but you can’t go wrong with a little rum ‘n’ honey(blood). Inspired by tattoo Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins, this month-long event will see an old warehouse in Finnieston transformed into an arts and events space incorporating music, talks, art competitions, spoken word – and, of course, a rum cocktail or two.

So far, the programme of events includes an “Open House-Warming” with Honeyblood and a special guest (15th), an acoustic set from Frank Carter (21st), an art competition (26th), an ‘Open Word’ spoken word stage (6th March) and Glasgow Unsigned competition (15th March). When not in use for events, the space is open to students and creatives for band rehearsals, meet-ups and more – keep an eye on the Sailor Jerry Facebook page for details.

Chris McQueer press photo

20th February, Edinburgh; 21st February, Glasgow
Sonnet Youth #16
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre, Edinburgh, 8pm tickets; Drygate Brewery, Glasgow, 7pm

Perhaps the most exciting night in Glasgow at the moment, spoken word cabaret Sonnet Youth will be heading east for the first time this month, shipping a top line-up of poets, authors, musicians and comedians to Gilded Balloon’s Rose Theatre on the third Tuesday of every month before bringing it all back home to the Drygate to do it all over again the following night.

Hosted by writer-performers Kevin P Gilday and Cat Hepburn, Sonnet Youth has been turning heads with some amazing bills – and February’s is no exception. This month’s line-up includes rapper, columnist and author Darren Loki McGarvey performing and discussing his new book Poverty Safari; award-winning Canadian slam poet Andre Prefontaine; short story writer/Best Person to Follow on Twitter Chris McQueer; folk-punk surrealist Chrissy Barnacle; stand-up comic Amelia Bayler; and new Scottish poet Sarah Grant.

Darren Loki McGarvey press photo by Steven Reynolds

21st February – 4th March, Glasgow
Glasgow Film Festival
Various venues info/tickets

Look, I’m not suggesting for one second that you might have missed out on Scotland’s biggest film festival if I hadn’t mentioned it – but after spending 45 minutes trying to get Opening Gala tickets for my bestie I wanted to get a blog post out of it there’s some seriously relevant-to-my-interests stuff in there that I wanted to highlight.

Fresh from their SPECTRA show earlier in the month, electronica pioneers Wrangler will be joining forces with Oscar-nominated composer Mica Levi to present The Unfilmables (28th, St Luke’s) – a night dedicated to “the greatest films never made” – whilst 2017 Scottish Album of the Year award winners Sacred Paws will perform a live score to Mm, Glasgow-based filmmaker Margaret Salmon’s 2017 documentary about language, masculinity and speedway racing (24th, Tramway).

As usual, the festival will be celebrating classic films in special event venues – top of the list being 80s v 90s school disco-themed screenings of Clueless and Gregory’s Girl (28th, SWG3) and Die Hard in Glasgow’s own take on Nakatomi Plaza (23rd and 24th, the old College of Building and Printing). But I’m most looking forward to cinema in a more conventional setting: The Party’s Just Beginning (24th, GFT), with writer/director/star/icon Karen Gillan herself in attendance.

What are your cultural highlights for February? Share anything you think I’ve missed in the comments!

Photo credits: Anna Deacon, Ryan McGoverne, Wes Kingston, Chris Scott, Steven Reynolds