When Maggie Rogers UK tour was first announced I was super excited to see she would be playing at Saint Luke’s. A venue in Glasgow I hadn’t yet visited and still to visit. Due to high demand, the show was moved to SWG3 Glasgow, another music venue I had never been to before, but also very excited to attend for the first time. I’m always curious about what wheelchair access will be like at venues I’ve never visited. So without further ado, here is my SWG3 Glasgow disabled access and wheelchair accessibility review for the Maggie Rogers gig on 17th February.
SWG3 is a cool studio warehouse venue in the West End of Glasgow. SWG3 (Studio Warehouse Glasgow) is a multi-disciplinary arts space for all sorts of events including club nights, gigs, exhibitions, a studio and gallery space for artists, poets and performers and much more. The rooms are open plan with cement walls providing a blank canvas with exposed ceilings and pillars. A quirky venue that I reckon is going to become one of the most popular venues in Glasgow.
Booking Accessible Tickets
Unfortunately, booking tickets for this show, which at the time was still Saint Luke’s wasn’t the most straightforward but with a little determination, we got there in the end.
It started with an email from TicketWeb with details about the presale but as I’ve never been to Saint Luke’s before I wasn’t sure what it was like to book accessible tickets. I contacted the venue to ask how to book an accessible ticket and whether they offer a free carer ticket, but they advised me to contact the promoter.
I emailed the promotor (DF concerts) who advised that any accessible customer who requires a carer to any of their shows will be able to do so by calling Ticketmaster on their accessible phone line. I call Ticketmaster but they couldn’t help me either. They told me I needed a code for the presale, even though there was no mention of a code or how to get one. I contact DF again and while waiting for a response I see that Ticketweb have general tickets available, but I was hesitant to go ahead with booking as no one was able to tell me if I could get a free carer ticket or not?
The woman at DF was great and advised me someone from the Accessible Team at Ticketmaster would be giving me a call. The day came and went with no phone call or emails from Ticketmaster. I emailed DF again who was apologetic and I explained to them the Ticketmaster website and the person I spoke to from Ticketmaster contradict what I’ve been told by the venue, Saint Luke’s.
The venue claimed to not deal with making a decision regarding access requirements and carer tickets, but the Ticketmaster website states they do. See photo from the website below. DF then advised that tickets were being reserved for me and someone would give me a call to rearrange payment etc.
Finally, someone called and my booking was confirmed. I then emailed Saint Luke’s to let them know I would be attending with my carer and to reserve seats/wheelchair space for the gig, but they never replied.
A few days later I received an email from Ticketmaster advising that the show had been upgraded to SWG3 to cope with demand.
Although it’s been open for several years, SWG3 is a fairly new venue in terms of gigs and only started hosting gigs last in the last 6 months.
We emailed SWG3 to let them know I would be attending and to confirm there would be a viewing platform and to reserve spaces on the platform. They got back to us and confirmed everything. A few days before the show we decided to double check and make sure there would definitely be a viewing platform. We received an email back reassuring us so we were good to go!
Getting to SWG3 Glasgow
There was motorway road closures everywhere so we kept getting diverted which meant we arrived later than planned. There is disabled parking in the venues yard, but we didn’t park in it because it was locked when we arrived and there was no staff standing at the entrance or any signs to indicate exactly where to park. We parked up on the side of the road beside other cars and headed towards the main door.
Arriving at SWG3 Glasgow
As we approached the venue a female steward began telling me to go this way and that way around the barriers and puddles. It was a bit of a faff and there was no one else queuing. It was also pouring of rain. I was getting absolutely soaked so all I wanted was to get inside out of the rain. Going in and around barriers was delaying things more.
We gave our names and showed our ticket. Another steward then insisted on stamping our hands before entering. I’m soaked at this point, my hands are soaked, my legs are soaked. Everything is soaked. Allan asks if we can go inside the empty doorway out of the rain to dry my hands and save us getting wetter. She rudely replies “we are all getting soaked pal”. I explain to the steward my hand is too wet for the stamp, but he insists it needs to be stamped, its policy.
He then says something to me which I couldn’t make out, but I think it was something to do with me not lifting my hand up. I tell him I can’t lift my hand up so to just go ahead and stamp it even though it’s soaking wet, but he turns and walks away without stamping my hand.
We are both annoyed by this point as the steward escorts us into the venue. Once inside she apologies, as she sees how soaked I am and insists on stamping Allan’s hand again. Although they kept insisting to stamp mine outside in the pouring rain, they ended up not even stamping my hand at all. Not even when I asked once inside.
Wheelchair Accessibility at SWG3 Glasgow
Entering SWG3 was really easy and step-free. As we arrived late (Maggie Rogers was already on stage) it wasn’t crowded. We stopped at the accessible toilet to grab some tissues to try to dry me off. Another member of staff offered to help and gets me some paper towels, which was very kind.
The accessible toilet was a good size with space for wheelchair transfers on the left side, grab bars and emergency pull cord. Although I didn’t use the toilet, I noticed the floor was fairly wet so it had possibly already been used quite a bit and there was no Radar lock.
TV Studio & Viewing Platform
The same steward who had us waiting in the rain escorts us into the TV Studio where Maggie was performing and through the crowd. Its really busy but she manages to get us through the crowd and right to the front onto the viewing platform…wrong!
Just as we feared there was no viewing platform. It was just a barriered off area on the left-hand side of the room. It was more like a cage. We felt and looked like caged animals. There were around eight people in this small little area who were already sitting. I instantly knew it was going to be bad. I had no view at all! The people sitting were squashed up and leaning against the barrier and bending their necks trying to see the stage.
The steward goes to leave but Allan asks her where the viewing platform is and tells her I can’t see a thing. She says “the viewing platform is next door because there is a gig with more wheelchairs so they are using it and you came in late so….”
It doesn’t matter if we were late. We can arrive whenever we want just like able-bodied people can arrive at whatever time suits them. They don’t get told off or penalised. We also can’t predict traffic and road diversions.
Traffic was a nightmare, I was sitting with damp clothes from being soaked, Maggie was already on stage (the venue hadn’t given stage times so we didn’t know it was an early show), now we are sat in a caged area with no viewing platform, despite being told there would be one.
Honestly, I wanted to leave. I would have left if I didn’t have to squeeze through the crowd again. Instead, we asked a steward at the front of the stage to get the manager. While waiting, a few people in the “viewing area” volunteered to move to let me get my wheelchair in closer. It was very kind of them and I told them not to as they were there first, but they insisted because they were able to stand. I was the only wheelchair user. Unfortunately, I still couldn’t see.
Ten minutes or so later another two people got up and moved their seats completely and let me get as close as possible to the barrier to try and get a better view. It was a little better but still no way suitable or acceptable. I had to lean across and twist my neck just to get a glimpse of Maggie onstage. I couldn’t do it for long because it was straining my neck and causing pain. All I kept thinking was “why am I having to do this?”
By this point, no amount of amazing view is going to bring this back for us. We are frustrated, disheartened and quite frankly feel like second class citizens and above all, we feel utterly ripped off! We have paid the same price as everyone else yet we are being treated completely different! I can’t help but feel a little cheated as I watch everyone have a great time. I resort to watching Maggie by looking at peoples phones because that’s the only way I get to properly see her.
The show ends and the lights go up. People begin to leave the room while the rest sing and dance to Whitney Houstons “I wanna dance with somebody”. It’s clear to see they are in high spirits and had a great night. Again, I can’t help but feel cheated. We wait in the
viewing area cage for the manager to meet us.
Feedback to the Manager
The operations manager arrives and apologies. We explain that the steward told us there is only one viewing platform and that it’s being used next door, which is not acceptable. He tells us that is 100% not the case. There is a viewing platform for each room and it’s brought out when required. He then explains that there has been a communications breakdown so they didn’t know I was coming in my wheelchair. The manager also says that the barrier (cage) area wasn’t set up properly because it should be angled to allow a better stage view rather than straight which meant the crowd were blocking us.
He was really nice and genuinely disappointed that we had a bad experience. He said it wasn’t acceptable and if he can do anything in terms of future shows, to get in touch with him. It was good to talk to him, explain our concerns and hear what accessibility should be like at SWG3. Clearly, he wants disabled customers to have a great time at SWG3 and feel valued.
Although he said the reason for not putting the viewing platform out was because they didn’t know I was coming is a bit confusing as my name was on the access list at the door. So they must have known I was attending?
Maggie Rogers at SWG3 Glasgow
I’ve mentioned Maggie Rogers a few times in my ‘Things I’ve Loved’ series last year. She often featured as my favourite artist or song for that particular month. If you haven’t heard of Maggie before, she is an American musician and super talented singer-songwriter as well as a producer. She is from Maryland and first got her musical break after playing her song “Alaska” to Pharrell Williams during a master class at New York University. Since then things have taken off for her and she has toured with Mumford & Sons and Haim.
I cannot comment on the stage set up and performance because I couldn’t actually see any of it. However, her folk-pop vocals were absolutely amazing. Words I would use to describe her are enchanting, charming, pure and blooming well awesome.
The following photos of Maggie Rogers were taken by Allan from his view of the stage.
In the end, we paid money for a show we didn’t get to enjoy. It’s not a nice feeling to look around the room and almost resent the crowd because they are enjoying themselves and have no idea what it’s like to be a wheelchair user stuck in a cage. We should have enjoyed the gig but instead, we felt ripped off and unvalued. Aside from there being no viewing platform, there is a definite need for more disability awareness and training for the stewards. Simple changes in the service they provide and their attitudes will make a big difference. I have tickets for another show at SWG3 in The Galvanizers venue in May, so fingers crossed it all goes to plan and a viewing platform turns up on the night. Stay tuned.
Have you been to SWG3 Glasgow before? What was your experience like?
You might also like:
Featured image courtesy SWG3