There’s nothing like getting to know a city through its music venues and shows. Oftentimes those late nights of live music bring out a contagious vibe and side of a place you may have never experienced before. From concerts and big names to chill nights with a new local face, there are several stops to make in Victoria to experience that artsy atmosphere. Read on below to decide on the place that best suits what you’re after for your musical night on the town.
1. The Copper Owl
Consistently ranked as a top spot to catch some live tunes, the inside of the Copper Owl may just come as a surprise. Vintage is the word choice of many to describe the cozy booths, dimmed lighting and wood-paneled walls of this intimate bar. It’s agreed that the speak-easy vibe lends to the contagious and enjoyable atmosphere, which is only enhanced by the tones of live music. Both local newcomers and well-known names take the stage, as well as comedy shows, dance nights and a multitude of other events. Stop and ask a local their favourite spot for music, and it’s almost guaranteed at least a few will respond with, “The Copper Owl.”
2. Hermann’s Jazz Club
Brick interior studded with trumpets, trombones and photos of Jazz legends, a trip to Hermann’s Jazz Club is a trip back to the very day they first opened their doors. A classic Jazz Lounge rather than a restaurant, bar, or club, the small stage allows for an intimate experience of fantastic music. Do not expect to have to dress to the nines, or to even really be able to locate the front door right away. Low key and cozy is the recipe of the night with great drinks, snacks should you desire and a clear prioritization on excellent music.
3. Logan’s Pub
Like a dive bar on uppers, Logan’s Pub is the perfect place to dress down but still have a surprisingly great night. Classic pub food with a fresh, creative twist accompanies an eclectic crowd depending on the genre of the night. With plenty of space and pool table to go alongside the tasty food and drinks, the place boasts being the “alternative HQ of the Garden City.” The slogan speaks for itself and you should expect to hear not a single shred of anything Top 40’s during your visit. For those searching for a diamond in the rough, Logan’s Pub is the destination to keep in mind.
4. The Mint
The Mint Downstairs is a cozy, after-hours venue that runs until 2am. Brick walls and low ceilings laced with string lights set an intimate and comfortable mood accompanied by flickering candlelight at each cozy table. Low-key DJ’s, live local talent and even an array of comedy nights often take to the stage and never disappoint. The variety of mojitos and incredible Asian-fusion food make for the perfect evening affair. Even if you don’t go just to see the music, it certainly adds a little je-ne-sais-quoi to the atmosphere.
5. Bard and Banker
Known as one of the only places in Victoria that does live music every night, this is a typical haunt for many locals in the city. There isn’t even a cover charge. Up front the music can be pretty loud, but hey, there’s a lot of space to fill. Bard and Banker is a Scottish pub that is located in what used to be the Bank of British Columbia, which employed a bard of Scotland (surprise!). A long bar with plenty of beer taps, elegant chandeliers, fantastic drinks and a plethora of classic pub fare accompany the nightly music. Sit up front to get a good look at the stage, otherwise the upper level and various booths and corners make for an opportunity to catch up with friends while the music sets the tone in the background. Sunday’s are unplugged for a bit of a quieter, low-key musical atmosphere.
6. CANOE Brewpub
Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights mean party time at the CANOE Brewpub. The place consists of a restaurant, pub and lounge, so there are plenty of seating options depending on the way you want to experience the music. The area around the stage is small but allows for plenty of fun. Often, dancing is involved. Home-brewed beers, tasty, fresh eats amp up the musical experience. All-in-all, Canoe is a great place to crush a few pints with friends, hear some tunes and maybe even put on those dancing shoes.
7. Gorge-ous Coffee
Throwing it back to those coffeehouse vibes is Gorge-ous Coffee, located on Gorge Road. It’s often a rare sight to see a café open later than 5 or 6pm, but Gorge-ous Coffee stays awake until 10pm every night. Why? They’re busy showcasing live, local music! Sometimes, they even do it during the day. Get that caffeine fix with a side of baked goods and local tunes. It’s a funky little shop focused on folk and blues music with enough comfy chairs and couches to go around.
8. AlixGoolden Performance Hall
An old converted church, the AlixGoolden Performance Hall is one of the larger, more epic venues Victoria has to offer. Stained glass windows, vaulted ceilings and layers of the pipe organ behind the former altar create a luminous and surreal backdrop to any performance, while somehow making the entire thing still seem rather intimate. Maybe it’s the wooden pews that keep the 800-seats in cozy quarters of each other, or just the humbling concept of attending a rocking concert in a former religious space. Its lofty stature leads to more than ideal acoustics and an ethereal atmosphere is riddled throughout the building.
9. Save-On Foods Memorial Centre
Last but not least, the Save-On Foods Memorial Centre is the go-to for any major names coming to the city. With a capacity of over 7,000 people, it’s actually the largest arena in BC outside of Vancouver. Although a full-time hockey arena, it has still held some massive concerts by night. Michael Buble, the Backstreet Boys, Leonard Cohen, Heart, Sir Elton John, LynyrdSkynard and ZZ Top are just a few of the many. The Centre is a short walk away from downtown, so it’s easy to have dinner in the city, catch the show and then head back out for an after-show drink or to keep the dancing rolling.