Vancouver's Live Music Central: Granville Street
Vancouver is known for food, mountains, hockey and the Olympics. Don’t forget that it has an emerging live music scene. While one neighborhood in the city has a particularly high concentration of music-oriented venues, it’s easy to find virtually any type of performance on most nights throughout Vancouver.
Start with the Granville Entertainment District, a seven-block corridor anchored by Granville Street. Its bustling clubs attract a trendy 20-something crowd, and the numerous bars and venues offer a variety of music from touring acts to jazz and local bands.
One of the main attractions is The Commodore Ballroom, a stylish art deco music hall that has drawn huge names in its 75 years. Names that have headlined include Talking Heads, Paul Oakenfold, Tina Turner, The Police, and Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre.
The Roxy is a legendary bar known for serving up strong drinks with flair, but beyond being a great place to let loose, local and touring bands swing through with regularity to entertain. The nightclub is quick to point out that many celebrities, rock stars and hockey players come through the doors, too.
While most of the Granville music scene focuses on high-energy concerts and shows, The Yale, a transformed 19th-century hotel, is all about soulful rhythm and blues. Grab a cocktail, cozy up with some friends at a table and enjoy acts that include everyone from Jimmy Page and John Lee Hooker to local artists taking part in a jam session.
Then of course, there are numerous bars and clubs with hip DJs spinning all kinds of music to get people dancing throughout the Granville district. It’s simple to get your groove on around Granville Street, as venues with dancing are easy to find. Just listen for the music from the sidewalk. Note that on busy nights -- pretty much every Thursday through Saturday -- lines to get inside can be quite long.
Outside of the Granville Street area, live music venues and bars are generally not concentrated in single areas, but there are options scattered throughout Vancouver’s distinct neighborhoods. Live bands are commonplace on Water Street in Gastown including The Blarney Stone, which offers traditional Irish performances and contemporary and classic rock (DJs take over later in the night).
Also, the bars and clubs on the east side of town -- plus at select spots on Granville Island and in the neighborhoods of Kitsilano Beach and Yaletown -- often showcase live music and DJs.