Having booked the Monday off work, I made my way along to an all-day festival in Glasgow on an August Sunday to celebrate twenty years of Optimo. When Keith McIvor and Jonnie Wilkes put on their first shindig in the Sub Club on a Sunday night back in the 90s, many thought it would never work. On the contrary, the legendary club grew to generate a loyal following.
As expected for a summer’s day in Scotland, the sun didn’t shine. Thankfully, the SWG3 and Optimo crew had that in mind when scheduling the three stages, all of which were indoors. The Poetry Club was used for intimate clubbing, being the smallest of the rooms, while the TV Studio was reserved for live acts and the new massive Galvaniser’s Yard hosted its inaugural party. The venue was a hive of activity from the off-set, with the crowd appreciating local talent such as Sofay, Ribeka and Happy Meals who were up first to warm up the crowd before more established acts such as Ben UFO, Avalon Emerson and Midland took the stage. A true old-school warehouse feel characterised the proceedings, what with the lowly lit rooms, raised platforms for dancing and some powerful speakers brought up from Manchester for a debut outing in Scotland, providing great sound in the Galvaniser’s Yard.
The live acts included K-X-P, who brought goth infused live techno, Adult, who provided some moody sounds and King Ayisoba and his band from Ghana, playing the traditional kologo music from the region. Their distinct sound was lapped up by the audience who joined in their tribal dance.
Midland provided a techno soundtrack in the large Galvaniser’s Yard – a space I’m sure will soon become central to Glaswegian clubbing – before the night was rounded off with the woman of the moment, Black Madonna, back-to-back with Optimo. The three brought the house down with a set that was like one long crescendo, playing a mix of sounds and styles in the typical Optimo fashion. By the end the room was full of sweaty, smiling punters.
There was a friendly, celebratory vibe throughout, embodying the aura of the large visual displayed in the main room, which stated ‘I want to see all my friends at once’. The Optimo guys closed the show by thanking everyone for being the greatest audience in the world, and it did feel like a genuine coming together of love for the Glasgow scene stalwarts.
Then it was off to the Sub Club for an after party, where those who still had the energy to keep going for another few hours enjoyed a surprise appearance from Blurt and another three hours of McIvor and Wilkes doing what they do best.
Optimo is on again 18th August at Summerhall. Find out more here.