Although lesser known for its live music than neighbor-to-the-south Seattle, Vancouver is still a hub for musicians on the Canadian west coast. At dozens of Vancouver music venues you can listen and dance to live tunes – be it experimental jazz, a touring rock band, or local country jam.
Live Jazz at Vancouver Bars
Vancouver has a thriving Jazz scene with the Vancouver International Jazz Festival held annually in late June and early July. The festival draws in local, Canadian, and international artists for performances in a mix of venues.
Any time of the year, though, you can catch nightly jazz music at the following venues:
- Yale Hotel: This historic brick building located close to the Granville Street Bridge has nightly live music. Dimly lit with an unpolished feel, it's a low-key spot to sip a draft beer. 1300 Granville St., 604-681-9253. Note: The Yale is closed for renovations and construction of an adjacent condo tower until early 2013.
- Cellar Jazz: A small basement club on Vancouver's west side, this jazz bar presents live music on a small stage. 3611 W Broadway, 604-738-1959.
- O'Doul's: This jazz bar and restaurant at the Listel Hotel is now closed.
Live Bands on Tour
Grabbing tickets to a show in Vancouver is a highly recommended way to spend an evening, especially as many top bands schedule a tour date here. Catch live performances of up-and-coming bands at:
- The Commodore: Renowned for its sprung, hardwood dance floor, The Commodore first opened in 1929 and the music has hardly stopped since. 868 Granville St., 604-739-4550.
- Venue: This Granville-Street club presents a huge range of artists, from bands to DJs. 881 Granville St., 604-646-0064.
- Vogue Theatre: While The Vogue sees some fantastic bands on its stage, there is no dance floor here. Instead the historic venue has theater-row seating. It's a bit staid, but the bands are often too good to miss. 918 Granville St., 604-688-1975.
- Malkin Bowl: This outdoor concert venue is in Stanley Park. Take a picnic and dance past dusk.
More Live Music Venues in Vancouver
At the following live music venues you'll catch a mix of local bands and lesser-known acts:
- Backstage Lounge: Adjoining the Arts Club Theatre, the Backstage Lounge turns on the tunes once the curtain drops on that evening's plays. 1585 Johnston St., 604-687-1354.
- The Bourbon: It is billed as Vancouver's only country bar and the bands that perform here tend to be live and local. Lots of toe-tapping, good drink specials, and a packed dance floor. 50 W. Cordova St., 604-684-4214.
- The Media Club: Acts at The Media Club can be hit or miss. But the cover is usually cheap, making the risk more fun. 695 Cambie St., 604-608-2871.
- Railway Club: From sing-a-long nights to simple band gigs, this music venue offers something truly local. 579 Dunsmuir St., 604-681-1625.
Finding Live Music Shows in Vancouver
For full live music and club listings check out Vancouver's weekly entertainment papers, such as The Georgia Straight or the West Ender, as well as the arts sections of its daily papers, the Vancouver Sun and The Province.