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Live Music Venues in Edmonton

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  • Live Music Venues in Edmonton

    The live music scene in Edmonton is constantly evolving, so I'd like to get people's opinion on what licensed venues they like or dislike, and why.

    There are a few tiers of venues, depending on how deep the pockets are of the venue backers, the size of the venue, the quality of artists it hosts, etc, etc....

    Just off the top of my head, to get things rolling...

    The Artery, Bohemia, Wunderbar, DV8, etc. are smaller venues in older, cheaper rent buildings where you can see a wide range of emerging artists. What they lack in amenities they make up for in tons of character.

    Some bars have live music but have no real stage and not much, if anything, in the way of a sound system or lighting. Places like JR's Grill and Bar, Bo Diddly's in MillWoods, etc. This isn't to say that these places can't have a great vibe though. Depending on the layout of the place, where the band can set up, and what kind of gear (and ability) the band brings with them, these bars can be great places for a night of music. For example, JRs has a great Thursday night jam, which has been going for years.

    There are several bars that are more "established" that have stages and sound systems of varying quality. Some of the ones that immediately jump to mind are The O2s chain of bars, The Leaf Bar and Grill, Brixx, Big Al's House of Blues, The Rose and Crown, Richard's Pub, Rendezvous Pub. Depending on the bar, some are great experiences, and some need work.

    In my opinion, we don't have enough "A" rooms for live music in this city, considering our size and number of great musicians here. The passing of The Sidetrack Cafe leaves a void in our music scene that I still feel to this day.

    An incomplete list:
    Blues on Whyte
    Pawn Shop
    The Draft (used to be Fandango's) has potential, but they have some issues

    I personally like blues / blues rock, so Blues on Whyte rarely disappoints. Love the history, character (and characters!), consistently good acts, good sound... The site lines suck though!
    Last edited by lat; 11-11-2014, 11:57 AM. Reason: Added mention of The Sidetrack. Added links to venues.

  • #2
    The Mercury Room has been around a while but lately has become much more active, and better acts are booking there. I think a new fella has taken over.

    On The Rocks has live music multiple days a week. (I've never been)

    The Denizen just opened. It's a pretty good space.

    As for pubs with good bones for live music - The Crown and Anchor in Castle Downs is fantastic. Black Dog is great for Hair of the Dog. The Buckingham and Filthy Mcnasty's are good spots to catch a band. I can't put my finger on what I don't like about Brittany's.

    Sight lines at The Commercial are just fine as a far as I'm concerned. Sight lines are a real problem for Rusty's/Big Al's/whatever it is now. But whoever is booking acts at Blues on Whyte has gotten into a real rut in the last 18 months.

    I don't care for the Starlight or Pawn Shop. The Artery is far and away my favourite venue in town. The Yardbird Suite is on my list.


    • #3
      Yeah, The Mercury Room used to be run by Jimmy Whiffen, I believe... I had heard who took it over, but I can't recall off-hand. Feel bad that I didn't go check it out when Jimmy was running it...
      I've heard that OTR is a good venue, but I have yet to go while a band is playing.
      Will have to check out Denizen Hall.
      As long as you're on the right side of the pillars at The Commie, no prob, but the other side of the room just has those strips of seats where you can peer through the spaces between them... Annoying...
      I agree that Starlight and The Pawn Shop can be better.
      Yardbird Suite is great!
      Last edited by lat; 11-11-2014, 04:37 PM.


      • #4
        Eventually, we'll be able to add the Needle to that list, which sounds like a really promising place. But yeah, I miss the SideTrack too.
        “It’s so beautiful. What sort of bird is that?”


        • #5
          Really like the starlight, seen some of my fav bands there! Lately they have been booking a lot of DJ stuff( I'm not into that). The union is booking a shitonne of great international acts, it's a reasonable venue but the location stinks!!!!

          If a venue wants to get a big following they need the international bands that sell tickets for events equivalent to starlight/ old reds/union hall/ or even the shaw( but by bands choice wanting an intimate show) so what is this 1500-2000 people? Having local Djs and bands for fillers.
          Also other bars nearby so after the show ( which most big acts end before midnite) people can continue to have a good experience. I hope a good venue can open up in the downtown or starlight stRts booking good acts again.

          Amon Amarth cam to town October 5th and I have no problem driving down to Calgary for a better venue. Great excuse for a trip out of town but I'd rather edmonton have better venues for some dhows


          • #6
            Originally posted by Idealistic Pragmatist View Post
            Eventually, we'll be able to add the Needle to that list, which sounds like a really promising place. But yeah, I miss the SideTrack too.
            Yes, I remember reading that article. That will be very cool to check out. Speaking of which, I have to check out Rocky Mountain Icehouse too.


            • #7
              I remember Union Hall as Goose Loonies, back in the day... Looks like that could rate as an A room, but the location does suck!

              EDIT: Looks like the venue itself sucks too, based on these reviews... Swill, what do you think about the venue and are these reviews accurate?
              Last edited by lat; 11-11-2014, 12:54 PM.


              • #8
                The reviews I'm seeing are typical for most venues easy to find typical complaints generic as those.i never had a problem with weak drinks.

                Come to think of it I'm going there on the 17th for a gwar show, I'll post a review of services afterwards.

                Number 1 complaint I have is location, #2 not a great set up( that's what u get with crap retrofits)# 3 it's pretty grimy, ( nothing wrong with having a dive bar but how the building is maintained,managed, and presented goes a long wAy.) #4 staff, can't compare unprofessional thug 18yr old bouncers who have something to prove vs red carpet service like the shaw conference( and they could really improve themselves in some respects)


                • #9
                  Is it worth mentioning where our big international and loxal DJ live-band acts are? Guys seem to ve shy on DJ's but I can rip the lid off if you want.
                  Live and love... your neighbourhood.


                  • #10
                    ^ I'd say go for it. If they have room for a DJ and his/her table to set up, they could probably host a 2-3 piece live band.
                    Last edited by lat; 11-11-2014, 04:38 PM.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ajs View Post
                      I can't put my finger on what I don't like about Brittany's
                      I generally like Brittany's, but the stage is in an awkward spot... Being a long, narrow place, the sight lines are poor for a large number of seats...


                      • #12
                        Rocky Mountain Icehouse has the capability to be a live music venue but so far they haven't done much booking. Time will tell.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by GreenSPACE View Post
                          Rocky Mountain Icehouse has the capability to be a live music venue but so far they haven't done much booking. Time will tell.
                          They have a thing on Tuesday nights...



                          • #14
                            While we're in the neighbourhood I saw that Cask and Barrel has a regular garage band thing happening on Saturday afternoon.


                            • #15
                              Cool, I've been looking for another Saturday afternoon music spot. Didn't realize The Cask and Barrel had music.
                              Last edited by lat; 14-11-2014, 09:26 AM.