With intimate clubs and grand stadium venues, and everything in between, Vancouver’s live music scene is thriving. Catching a favourite band—or discovering a new favourite, is a great way to spend your evening, hanging out with like-minded locals and other fans. There’s plenty happening in the city’s downtown districts, but there are live music venues scattered throughout Vancouver, and it’s easy to find virtually any type of performance on most nights. A good place to start is our own events calendar, and the listings section of the Georgia Straight, the city’s weekly arts and entertainment newspaper.
Starting with the bigger venues, you’ll find Vancouver attracts plenty of international touring acts throughout the year. Rogers Arena and BC Place Stadium host most of the stadium shows, but the mid- size venues along Granville Street are where you’ll most likely catch a show by out-of-town acts. One of the main attractions is The Commodore Ballroom, a stylish art deco music hall that has drawn huge names in its 75 years, including Talking Heads, Paul Oakenfold, Tina Turner, The Police, and Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. Another popular venue is The Orpheum, which is within a block of the Commodore.
Other live music venues are scattered around downtown and some of the more popular neighbourhoods, with live rock, jazz, blues, country, and indie music aplenty. Unlike the DJ-driven entertainment at most of the clubs along Granville Street, The Roxy is known for offering live music. A house band plays most nights, banging out eminently danceable tunes, but you’ll also find guest artists performing a mix of rock, country and blues. Elsewhere in the city, you’ll find everything from dive bars with tiny stages, restaurants that clear away tables to make space for a stool and mic, and upstairs venues with a jam-packed calendar of live music.
And don’t forget about Vancouver’s festivals, many of which include live music performances at venues all over the city, including some that are free. The Vancouver International Jazz Festival is a great example, with more than 300 performances at 35 venues. The organization that puts on the festival, Coastal Jazz & Blues Society, also offers a year-round calendar of jazz shows at bigger venues as well as at Frankie’s Jazz & Bar, a downtown restaurant and bar.