Viagra Boys: “Shrimp Trawlers Fished Out Of A Dark Louisiana”

Logan Walker shares his experience of seeing The Viagra Boys at the iconic Barrowland Ballroom in Glasgow…

WHO: Viagra Boys 

WHERE: The Barrowland Ballroom, Glasgow 

WHEN: 21st of January 2023 

The Barrowlands is one of Scotland’s most sacred temples of sound, and Swedish post-punk dance cowboys, Viagra Boys – touring in support of their latest release Cave World – came prepared to pay tribute to the gods of rock’n’roll. 

Hailing from Stockholm but presenting themselves as shrimp trawlers fished out of a dark Louisiana bayou, the six-piece sauntered on stage with a calmness that belied the approaching storm of noise. The Swedes set the tone for the evening by kicking off proceedings with their ode to the art of borrowing people’s possessions without asking for permission, Ain’t No Thief. The driving basslines, thumping drums, hypnotic sax, and biting guitars made it impossible for the sold-out Glasgow crowd to stand still, and the 1900 in attendance spent the entire 90-minute set jumping and dancing. 

Following the opener, charismatic lead singer Sebastian Murphy, wearing signature shades and a full Adidas tracksuit, elicited one of the night’s biggest cheers by shedding his top to reveal his heavily tattooed body underneath. A member of the audience responded in kind, politely launching a bra on stage to the visible amusement of the singer. It would not be the only object thrown on stage over the course of the night, as later, a prawn with a rotary motor attached was retrieved from the beer-soaked floor. Murphy expressed his gratitude. 

(Photo by Logan Walker)

The band admirably pushed through some early technical difficulties, killing time by drinking beer, as well as pouring it down themselves, grooving through crowd-pleasers including Punk Rock Loser and Slow Learner. Murphy showed off his rock frontman credentials by engaging the crowd with some of the greatest hits of audience banter, including a claim that he had consumed an entire bottle of Buckfast before taking the stage. He also informed the Barrowlands crowd that they are much better than the English lot from the night before, who, according to the singer, “fucking sucked”.   

While the Viagra Boys generated an incredible sense of momentum during their set, ripping through their impressive catalogue of sleazy dance-punk anthems, there was a momentary lapse of energy during an extended sax solo which would not have been out of place in a David Lynch movie. However, this slight hiccup was quickly forgotten when the band followed up with the fan-favourite Troglodyte, a rapid-paced and scathing punk critique of alt-right terminally online trolls. The undoubted highlight of the night came straight after they played their breakout hit Sports, generating a massive crowd singalong amid a flailing sea of limbs and beers flying overhead.   

The encore followed, which saw members of the band scale the surrounding equipment to survey the packed venue, imploring the crowd from above to “leave society, be a monkey”. A message which may not seem all that alluring at first, but after an hour-and-a-half of mesmeric serenading by the cowboys from Sweden, seemed like a mighty tempting offer.   

4 stars out of 5. 

Leave a Reply