An insider’s guide to Vancouver’s top five live music venues

As an essential West Coast tour destination, Vancouver is no stranger to bands rolling through. Whether they are up-and-comers trying to break onto the scene, or high-profile acts completing a world tour, Vancouverites can expect a plethora of shows all year long. With entertainment districts sprawling throughout the city, the vast selection can be overwhelming.

Not sure where to begin? Vancouver’s Top Five Live Music Venues list will cater to anyone looking to get their feet wet on any budget.

vancouver rogers arena

Rogers Arena – 800 Griffiths Way

#5. Rogers Arena

Established in 1995, Rogers Arena originally opened its doors as General Motors Place. During the years 1995-2001, it was home to the Vancouver Grizzlies (NBA) and currently hosts the Vancouver Canucks (NHL). With the concert capacity of 19,000, patrons are given the option of selecting seats from the floor, lower bowl and upper bowl levels. Because of the attendance capacity, Rogers Arena is typically privy to high-profile acts. Bottom line, big names mean big ticket prices. Depending on seat selection and the celebrity power of the band, average ticket prices will range anywhere from $55-$150. Don’t let the cost deter you though. Big names also mean big production values. Expect massive stages, gigantic screens and pyrotechnics (if you’re lucky).

The Red Room - 398 Richards Street

The Red Room – 398 Richards Street

#4. The Red Room

Located on the outskirts of historical Gastown, the Red Room is a hidden gem of Vancouver’s live music scene. Tucked in on the corner of Richards Street, it’s hard to predict what to expect by looking at the uniform concrete exterior. As a general admission venue, patrons are free to roam between the bars, seating area and dance floor for an average ticket cost of $20-$35. With a modest dance floor and a maximum capacity of 450, the Red Room is perfect for those who are looking for an intimate concert experience.

#3. The Orpheum Theatre

The Orpheum Theatre - 601 Smithe Street

The Orpheum Theatre – 601 Smithe Street

A National Historic Site of Canada, the Orpheum Theatre is an iconic landmark in the downtown core. When it opened in 1927, it was the biggest theatre in Canada. It is now home to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and can be easily spotted on the Granville strip by its vibrant neon sign. Tickets for most shows will average between $35-$55 and it offers orchestra style and balcony seating. With no age restrictions, this venue is a happy medium for people of all ages, who are looking to avoid the wallet-breaking costs of a big arena show.

Celebrities Nightclub - 1022 Davie Street

Celebrities Nightclub – 1022 Davie Street

#2. Celebrities Nightclub

Since 1911, Celebrities Nightclub has served Vancouver as one of the city’s first-ever dance halls. Built in 1908, it is now deemed a heritage site by the Vancouver Heritage Foundation under the “Places that Matter” project. Recently, Celebrities underwent a $1-million renovation, complete with a state-of-the-art sound system by Funktion 1 and an interior facelift from Vancouver’s BOX Interior Design. Located in Vancouver’s gay district and with a strict no-hate policy, for $20-$35, Celebrities offers a premium concert experience for a fraction of the cost.

The Commodore Ballroom - 868 Granville Street

The Commodore Ballroom – 868 Granville Street

#1. The Commodore Ballroom

In Vancouver, it’s almost an unspoken rule that acts must be of a particular calibre to play The Commodore Ballroom. More often than not, the Commodore is seen as a stepping stone before acts propel into arena tour stardom. Built in 1929, this venue has withstood the test of time, bringing through acts such as James Brown, KISS and Nirvana. If you’re looking for a more passive concert experience, there’s plenty of seating along the sides, as well as four bars located throughout the facility. If you’re feeling more adventurous, make your way to the massive, shock-absorbing dance floor and feel it pulse beneath your feet as the night gets underway. Aside from the fact that there are no in-and-out privileges and its 19+ restrictions, the Commodore provides the best value for your money with general admission averages ranging from $35-$55.

Kait Huziak

Meet Kait! She is trapped in a student's body as a third year Journalism student and she perpetually finds herself referring to third person context when it comes to bios. When Kait isn't menacing the streets of Vancouver, hopping from show to show, you can also find her scouring the web for sources of inspiration to facilitate her obsessive compulsive baking needs.

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