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Live Music Venues in Vancouver You Should Visit

Posted 01.08.19

We’re entering the last two weeks of our BC Call for Musicians! Collective Arts is currently hosting a this call with our friends at do604 and The Railway Stage and Beer Café until December 31st. Any BC musician or band is welcome to submit music & art for a chance to be featured on a series of Collective Arts BC Music Cans, releasing Spring 2019. In addition, the four selected musicians will also perform a showcase at The Railway Stage and Beer Café, scheduled to coincide with the Spring 2019 release of the BC Music Can Series. To celebrate, we’ve rounded up our favourite, and some of Vancouver’s best venues.

Railway Stage & Beer Café

One of Vancouver’s most iconic and longest-running music venues. The club opened in 1932 as “The 7 Railwayman’s Club” and membership was limited to the railway workers who worked at the Canadian Pacific Railway Station in downtown Vancouver. Eventually, it opened up to the general public and hosted bands like The Tragically Hip, Blue Rodeo, Great Big Sea, and thousands more. After an 87-year run, the Railway Club closed in 2016. In early 2017, the Donnelly Group revitalized the space, re-naming it The Railway Stage and Beer Café, and hosts live music every day of the week. The Railway is one of the few venues that embodies the liveliness of the Vancouver music scene, and we’re so excited to host our BC Music Can Series artists in Spring 2019.

Recent favourite shows @ The Railway
Hey Ocean! Sept 7, 2018

Upcoming shows @ The Railway
Collective Arts x Do604 BC Music Series Showcase – May 2019

The Commodore Ballroom

1929 saw the opening of the famous space, first named the Commodore Cabaret. Vancouver architect H.H. Gillingham modelled the space after a classic British ballroom design. The design is a shining display of the Art Deco style, popular in the late 20s. Known to have the best dance floor in town, it quickly became the town’s hotspot for dinner & dancing to the Commodore’s house bands. 1969 saw new ownership under Drew Burns, a name change to the Commodore Ballroom, and a liquor license – that really changed the game. Live music acts from all around the world in every genre began playing shows there, inviting new crowds and solidifying the venue as one of the province’s best. In 1996 after Burns’ lease was up, the Commodore closed its doors for 3 years. Many music acts bypassed Vancouver on their tours because there was simply no venue that could match the Commodore, and as a result, Vancouver’s music scene suffered for those years. House of Blues took ownership in 1999, bringing a breath of fresh air back to the scene. Live Nation is now the owner of the Commodore Ballroom, producing concerts with international stars and making way for the local Vancouver music industry to shine.

Recent favourite shows @ The Commodore Ballroom
Bob Moses – Sep 25, 2018
Yukon Blonde & The Zolas Dec 5, 2018

Upcoming shows @ The Commodore Ballroom
Bedouin Soundclash – Feb 9, 2019

 

The Imperial

319 Main Street, Vancouver

The Imperial began as a Chinese-Language theatre house called the Golden Harvest and was a popular destination for watching kung-fu movies in the early 1970s. A major renovation in 2007 by movie producer Bill Vince saw this theatre turn into a beautiful boutique cinema for private movie screenings and events, called District 319. After Vince passed a year later, the venue struggled to find an audience for some time. In 2013, the venue was resurrected by a group of entertainment venue experts who changed the name to The Imperial. The plush seats of the theatre days were removed to feature a large dance floor to turn the space into a multi-use venue. Today, you can find fans of all genres enjoying The Imperial’s unique charm while watching their favourite musicians onstage.

Recent favourite shows @ The Imperial
Reuben and the Dark – Nov 7, 2018

Upcoming shows @ The Imperial
Hippo Campus – Feb 8, 2019
Mt. Joy – March 24, 2019

The Rickshaw Theatre

254 East Hastings, Vancouver

Just down the street from The Imperial, between the Chinatown and Strathcona neighbourhoods is The Rickshaw, another former movie theatre. Owned by The Shaw Brothers, the most significant film production company in Hong Kong cinema. With state of the art technology & a massive viewing room, the then-named Shaw Theatre became the West Coast Hub of the Shaw Brothers’ Production empire until the mid 1980s when interest in the Kung-Fu movie genre waned. The theatre was left unused until its resurrection as a music venue in 2009. Operations manager Mo Tarmohamed took over the business in 2011 to turn the Rickshaw into one of the province’s top rock music venues. Boasting two floors and accommodating up to 600 people, fans of metal, punk, and indie feel right at home.

Recent favourite shows @ The Rickshaw
Gang of Youths

Upcoming shows to check out @ The Rickshaw
The Broken Islands – Jan 11, 2019
Silverstein – Jan 25, 2019

The Orpheum

601 Smithe Street

The Orpheum theatre opened in 1927 as a vaudeville house, and at the time of its opening, was the biggest theatre in Canada, with 3000 seats. After vaudeville’s heyday was over, the Orpheum became a movie house until 1969. Famous Players planned to completely renovate The Orpheum into a multiplex cinema, and in retaliation, a “Save The Orpheum” protest was launched, and the theatre was saved. In 1974, the City of Vancouver purchased the theatre, and soon after transitioned into a dual use theatre and music space where the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra has since resided. The Orpheum was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1979. These days, fans of film, dance, opera, and music congregate here for some of the best acoustics in town.

Recent faves @ The Orpheum:
Blood Orange – Sept 14 2018
RZA: Live from the 36th Chamber of Shaolin – Oct 9, 2018

Upcoming shows to check out @ The Orpheum:
Beirut – Feb 26, 2019
Young the Giant – March 4, 2019

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