Tuesday, April 23, 2024

17 Victoria music venues you can see your next favorite local band play


Victoria’s live music lexicon has taken a hit after Logan’s shut down back in 2020. 

Since then, a pandemic shut live music down, the Copper Owl sold and a new music venue landscape had to be braved by the musicians that made it through the last three years without giving up on their dreams. 

The Carlton Club is the latest casualty of the live music scene in Victoria. Once a karaoke hotspot turned DIY venue for all types of music and wrestling, the Carlton had a beautiful life in the spotlight of Victoria’s nightlife, but what does the city have left?

We have compiled a list of live music venues Victoria has left and what kinds of shows you can expect to see at them:

Vinyl Envy

A small and intimate room that will put on shows of any genre, within reason. 

Vinyl Envy is a record store and venue space that’s been running since 2015 on Quadra Street near Pandora Avenue. The capacity for the room is 80 people and the shows they put on are all-ages. 

All genres are welcome, although not many punk shows happen here as the small space may get sweaty and headbangers might accidentally bump into the records on display. 

“Vinyl Envy delivers a safe, intimate house party vibe with the focus directed solely at the stage,” says the venue’s website.

“We invite people to come inside and explore our vinyl collection before the show at 7 p.m., then sit back and enjoy an incredible roster of local and international bands and musicians who grace our stage each week.”

A list of upcoming shows at Vinyl Envy can be found here.

  • Address: 1717 Quadra Street

Victoria Events Centre

The Victoria Events Centre (VEC) is a non-profit, multipurpose venue for arts, celebration and community in the city. 

They will put on just about any type of show, be it an art battle, a songwriters circle, a 17-piece big band or a punk show. 

The VEC has been a hub for the arts since they took over the space that used to be the all-ages venue, ‘Club Hollywood.’

Most notably, the VEC operates as the Dandy Lion Cafe on Fridays between 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. with live music and an open mic.

The VEC’s events calendar can be found here

  • Address: 1415 Broad Street

The Phoenix Bar and Grill

The Phoenix Bar really stepped up to the plate to fill the void that Logan’s left in Victoria’s live music scene. 

In late 2021 and through 2022, they’ve solidified their place as the punk venue to play for bands who can’t afford a large room fee. Most of their shows started as a DIY operation that slowly became more fleshed out.

This venue is perfect for those who want to embrace their denim clad inner ‘crust-punk.’

The Phoenix Bar and Grill’s Facebook page is the best place to find upcoming events as their website’s events page can be a tad glitchy.

  • Address: 3994 Quadra Street

Upstairs Cabaret

An eclectic venue where electronic dance music and DJs have firmly planted their roots, occasionally making way for an established punk band to bring in some sweaty people in denim cutoffs. 

If you like to dance this is certainly the spot to keep an eye on. The lineup may take a bit to get through but once you are in the multi-tiered venue will allow you to see the DJ/band well from anywhere.

Because this is a bigger venue, tickets to shows here can be a bit more pricey than some of Victoria’s smaller rooms, but that’s just the way the world turns.

Upstairs Cabaret’s upcoming events can be found here

  • Address: 15 Bastion Square

Victoria Curling Club

The new kid on the block in terms of Victoria venues. 

The Victoria Curling Club is on Quadra Street and although they’ve done a few one off shows with Victoria Ska Fest and other summertime festivals, they are in the midst of getting their liquor license changed and some renovations done to make their space available for bands and promoters to book shows through. 

Keep an eye out for shows to start happening here by late summer 2023. 

  • Address: 1952 Quadra Street

Lucky Bar

The crown jewel of downtown venues, this place will put on just about any kind of show, so long as the bands skedaddle by 10 p.m. on a weekend so DJs can take over for the late night crowd.

This one is about 50/50 in terms of DJs and local bands. The bands that play here though pretty much have to sell out their show to 188 people to make it worthwhile — the room is nice and sounds great but it is expensive.

Check out what Lucky Bar has coming up on their events calendar.

  • Address: 517 Yates Street

The Duke Saloon

The Duke is proving to Victoria that it’s not just for line dancing and Shania Twain singalongs.

They stay in their lane with most of their shows being country, folk and roots shows; however, the Duke Saloon has been dipping their toes into booking shows of other genres. 

Most recently they put on a show with Pastel Blank headlining and Neighbourly, two of Victoria’s best and brightest alt-rock bands.

Check the Duke Saloon’s Facebook page for upcoming shows. 

  • Address: 502 Discovery Street

Quadratic Sound

If you want a small, intimate show with mood lighting and the best sound in the city, this is the spot to keep an eye on.

This spot can only fit 50 people max and even then it’s a bit of a squish. The string lights on the ceiling give the shows here a really nice vibey feeling and the space is normally used as a recording studio, so the sound is immaculate. 

They put up punk shows, noise bands, folk nights, pretty much any genre is welcomed into this venue with open arms. 

Quadratic Sound is in the process of launching a new website, so for now their Facebook page is the best spot to find details of upcoming shows. 

  • Address:  655 Queens Avenue

Hermann’s Upstairs

Dad band central! It’s the perfect spot to get your fix of jazz, blues, roots, folk and rock in Victoria. 

Hermann’s is a medium size venue with a capacity of 260 and plenty of tables and chairs to sit and enjoy the show in so your knees don’t remind you that you’re not in your 20s anymore. 

All are welcome in this high quality, great sounding venue.

Hermann’s Upstairs events page is the best place to head to find information on upcoming shows. 

  • Address: 753 View Street, 2 floor

Cover band bars

There are many, but sometimes hearing someone who isn’t John Denver play Country Roads is exactly what the doctor ordered.

If you go out for a walk on any given Friday or Saturday night you’re likely to stumble across a cover band playing somewhere. 

Here are the many bars and pubs that have a stage for cover bands to play Sweet Caroline until their fingers bleed:

  • Darcy’s Pub downtown
  • Bard and Banker
  • Irish Times

Other honourable mentions

This list is focussed on Victoria’s music venue primary spots around town that are good to catch a local band. That doesn’t mean they are the only places in Victoria to have a band play a set every once in a while but they are leading the pack. 

Here are some other venues worth mentioning for bigger/smaller scale shows:

  • Capital Ballroom: Pretty much only for touring bands or big-shot local acts that can sell out a 400 person room on their own. 
  • The Mint: Mostly a comedy venue with some variety shows and open mic nights, the Mint occasionally puts up a singer/songwriter for a show in their Asian fusion restaurant.
  • Big Fernwood/Little Fernwood: A couple smaller spaces in Fernwood for DIY shows; Big Fernwood being the Fernwood Community Centre and Little Fernwood being Little Fernwood Gallery which is just beside Little June’s. 
  • The Loft: If you want to have a cold Budweiser and check out some Gordon Lightfoot covers with your buddies, this is a great spot to do that. This dive venue has a ton of character and is a great spot for a casual spontaneous night out.

Where is your favourite live music venue in town? Let us know in the comments!

Curtis Blandy

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