Rip It Up: An Exhibition Review

Blair Cowan

Heat wave got you craving some time indoors? Feeling like a lobster in a cooking pot every time you step outside? Have we got a (cool, dim, indoor) tip for you!

We’re all about the music here in the Elastic office- our choices are often debated wildly and we’re always keen to hear about each other’s newest musical obsessions. Imagine our delight, then, when we heard about the Rip It Up exhibition now on at the National Museum of Scotland! From Simple Minds to Mogwai to Young Fathers, we all have our favourite Scottish bands here at Elastic, and we were thrilled to see so many legendary acts represented in a single exhibit.

The exhibit, which includes at least a mention of pretty much every Scottish band we could think of from the 1950s through today, is extensive and fascinating. From the broad, overarching themes that give the viewer a background on what was happening worldwide at the time (the sudden appearance of the punk movement across London & Britain, the British Invasion, etc.) to the hyper-detailed (an outfit worn by Annie Lennox, an alternate pressing of a Garbage album) and the iconic (the guitar Gerry Rafferty wrote ‘Stuck In the Middle with You’ on, painted by his pal, the acclaimed artist John Byrne), the exhibition was a mashup of everything we all love about pop music.

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Plus, whether your tastes tend more toward King Creosote & Biffy Clyro, the Eurythmics & the Jesus & Mary Chain, or even the Bay City Rollers, there’s something in this exhibit for everyone. Making plans with your friend who complains that museums are boring? This is basically a Hard Rock Café without the overpriced food. Your pal who only listens to underground music? There’s an entire hall of records where she can look for her faves. Your mum wants to meet up? She’ll love the sections on the 1960s. Your cousin visiting from America? Definitely take him- he’ll be well impressed at all the amazing bands he didn’t even realise were Scottish.

This isn’t the kind of exhibit where you need a broad base of knowledge to enjoy the objects; in fact, you might be better off if you don’t have strong feelings about many of the bands, since the interpretation is a bit basic if you have much pop culture knowledge at all. Walking into the exhibition feels like walking into a cross between a gig and a bar, and while photography isn’t allowed, you’ll be glad you don’t have to worry about other fans getting in your way for selfies with the mannequins dressed like their favourite stars.

Four stars from the Elastic Band- now head over to Edinburgh’s National Museum and get in on the action!

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