A music-lover’s guide to Vancouver

by Michael Phillet

Vancouver has always had a diverse musical history; the city’s rich tapestry of cultures and languages has created the truly unique mosaic of artistic expression. Vancouver hosts music festivals throughout the year – including one of the largest folk festivals in North America – and is home to the famous Granville Street strip, where you can catch Top-40 pop, heavy metal and just about anything in between. Whether you’re searching for vintage vinyl, hoping to hear a local Jazz legend or just want to dance the night away, this music-lovers guide to Vancouver offers the perfect weekend itinerary. [Photo credit: iStock.com/ PerleroImages]

A music-lover’s guide to Vancouver

Friday

Kick-start you music-lover's weekend in Vancouver with a trip to the Granville strip and The Bottleneck. This hidden downtown gem feels like a neighbourhood pub, while being just a five-minute walk from some of the city’s most popular and longest standing concert halls, including The Commodore, Venue, The Vogue and The Orpheum. On any given night, you can catch musicians performing everything from Rock & Roll to Hip-Hop to Classical or Electronic. Big-name acts from all over the world come through Vancouver every day, usually selecting a lucky local group to open the show.

Before calling it a night be sure to stop in for a nightcap at The Templeton, an old school diner complete with jukeboxes at your table and milkshakes. Or, keep walking ’till you see the 14-foot neon parrot and pop into Two Parrots, which is open till 2:00 am and always playing good music.

Saturday

Vancouver has dozens (if not hundreds) of mouth-watering breakfast and brunch spots to help you start your day off right. If you wake up with an appetite (and a hangover), there’s no better place than Save-On-Meats. A fixture in the Downtown Eastside community since the late 1950’s, this retro diner is famous for hearty portions, good service and a comfortable environment (plus two-for-one Caesars on weekends).

From there, you’re blocks away from Vinyl Records, which offers more than 500,000 pieces of second-hand vinyl in a range of genres – from Hip Hop to Jazz to Brazilian beats, you’re sure to find a record to round out your collection.

After you’ve stocked up on vintage vinyl, head on over to Pat’s Pub at the Hotel Patricia to catch the Saturday afternoon Jazz show. First opened more than 100 years ago, this historic venue has a long tradition of hosting live Jazz in the city. The infamous “Jellyroll” Morton and many other musical icons have graced the stage over the years.

If you’re looking for more live music, head to Gastown and pay a visit to Guilt & Co. This funky venue feels like a speakeasy (it helps that it’s located in a basement) and is open late on weekends. The bar hosts a variety of live entertainment and bands, and offers a full dinner menu to keep you satiated during the show.

Sunday

If you didn’t get your fill of vinyl on Saturday, head to Main Street where you’ll find Neptoon Records, Dandelion Records & Emporium and Red Cat. These are three of Vancouver’s oldest record shops and are sure to satisfy even the strictest connoisseur. Be sure to check out Dandelion for not only a great selection of both new and used records, but also artisanal crafts from the Pacific Northwest – think leather, wood, books and cards.

If you’re hungry, Meet on Main is a funky and inexpensive vegetarian restaurant offering plant-based comfort foods that'll please carnivores and vegans alike.

From there, finish off your music-themed weekend in Vancouver with a visit to the legendary Shameful Tiki Room. This popular Main Street haunt is an authentic Polynesian Tiki bar, complete with palm trees, take-home Tiki mugs and the best bar staff in the city. Come on Sunday night to enjoy the go-go dancers, providing entertainment to match the soundtrack of ’50s surf guitars and smooth island sounds.

From large-scale concert venues to underground dive bars, there are plenty of places to discover Vancouver’s burgeoning music scene. Whether you’re in town for a multi-day music festival or a small indie show, the city offers something for all musical tastes.

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