WORDS: Chester Cornford
If it were your first time descending the steps into the basement of Max's Bar and Grill, you would be forgiven for thinking you are about to enter a fairly underwhelming function space. But, as you pass under the strip of cheetah print above your head, you will soon realise that this isn’t just a pub’s karaoke room. No, there’s something far more exciting lurking in the basement.
The La Cheetah Club has established itself as one of Glasgow’s top venues since it opened in 2009. It’s built a reputation as a club that breaks upcoming local talent, hosts diverse and forward-thinking artists from across the globe and attracts the biggest and most respected names to play in its intimate environs. Given its established position on Glasgow’s club scene, the news that the venue would be undergoing a face-lift was met with obvious excitement, and who better to reopen the club than La Cheetah favourite, Joy Orbison?
Joy Orbison, real name Peter O’Grady, is no doubt one of the finest of the current generation of UK artists. Entering into the limelight with his seminal track ‘Hyph Mngo’ in 2009, he has since built up a varied discography, co-founded the Hinge Finger imprint and become rightly known as one of the best selectors available. Playing all night long at the new-look, new-sound La Cheetah Club served as a purposeful reminder of his prowess.
Shifting effortlessly between Latin flavours, hard-hitting acid and melodic house and techno, O’Grady kept the crowd ecstatically bouncing for nearly the whole night. At times, there was a lull in energy, however these instances were minimal and offset by the peaks. Particular highlights came from his edit of Barnt’s ‘Chappell’ and the Bicep Edit of ‘Let No Man Put Asunder’. The crowd reacted spectacularly to both of these. A wide-face grin from O’Grady, usually neutral in concentration, confirmed that these were special moments. Spencer from Numbers even jumped on for a tune or two as O’Grady took a quick toilet break, delighting us with Osborne’s ‘Afrika’.
The wafts of paint and sawdust signalled the changes to the basement club which is still in transition. Firstly, the small bar has been extended, meaning there is far more space to dance at the back and less time waiting for a drink. The distinctive half-hexagon booth has been replaced with a striking square box, slightly raised, while retaining the intimate dancefloor connection with the DJ. The new lighting added an extra dimension and is a vast improvement on the old visuals. The space feels more professional and more serious, yet is an overwhelmingly fun and atmospheric place to party in – so in that sense, nothing has really changed.
The most striking difference, however, is the sound. Glasgow clubs have always been big on sound, and it’s widely agreed that nowhere sounds quite like the Sub Club. That is now up for contention. The Funktion-One set up is crisp, clean and powerful, and provided the optimum platform for Orbison. Working it to full potential, the smiles and cheers of the crowd showed that he hit the mark, and hit it hard. Hearing Rodriguez Lee’s ‘All The Same Family’ was a particularly happy moment; the chatter amongst the crowd confirming that both Orbison and La Cheetah had got it spot on.