Canada's biggest musical event of the year—plus some incredible performers—are coming to town this month
1. Big Wreck at the Commodore Ballroom – Thursday, March 1 and Friday, March 2
Facebook/Big WreckOnce in a while, a garden-variety act storms the scene and somehow manages to convince everyone they’re something special—yet their charm thoroughly eludes me (I’m looking at you, Taylor Swift). In that vein, I present to you, Big Wreck. Now, before you start accusing me of not knowing what I’m talking about, I’ve seen the band in a live setting on more than one occasion, so I’ve reluctantly witnessed the mass hypnosis firsthand. I’ve even overheard otherwise lucid individuals suggesting frontman Ian Thornley as a suitable replacement for Soundgarden’s late great leader Chris Cornell in respects of both vocal ability and physical appearance. Really? I’m thinking these people are equally tone deaf and legally blind. But hey, even though I evidently didn’t get the memo, that shouldn’t stop you from mightily pumping your fist in the air at the banality of bro anthem “That Song.” It’s a thing.
Tickets (Thursday & Friday) from $78
2. Dwight Yoakam at River Rock Casino Resort – Friday, March 2
Facebook/Dwight YoakamI am by no means a fan of contemporary country music. In fact, I have a hard time differentiating between new country and new pop. I find both genres sterile, soulless, and just downright beige. That is why it’s always a welcome relief to catch a gig by honky-tonk revivalist Dwight Yoakam. If you enjoy your country music just a little bit more on the Bakersfield Sound side of the fence, this dude is the real deal. Don’t miss this opportunity to check out the 61-year-old Kentucky native at Richmond’s preeminent resort casino as he performs old-school favourites alongside tracks from his most recent release, the bluegrass-tinged Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars.
Tickets from $119
3. The Ultimate Queen Celebration at River Rock Casino Resort – Saturday, March 3
Facebook/The Ultimate Queen CelebrationMissed your chance to see Queen when they hit town last summer? Don’t fret; I’ve got you covered. Head on over to the River Rock and immerse yourself in The Ultimate Queen Celebration. Fronted by vocalist extraordinaire Marc Martel, this is not your ordinary, cheesy, run-of-the-mill Freddie Mercury pastiche. If you don’t believe me, check out the Montreal native’s YouTube audition of “Somebody to Love” (which has been viewed over 13 million times!) and tell me this guy doesn’t have the chops.
4. Iced Earth, Sanctuary and Kill Ritual at Rickshaw Theatre – Sunday, March 4
Facebook/Iced EarthWhen asked to categorize the band’s musical style within the metal genre, Iced Earth’s principal songwriter simply stated, “We’re a metal band. That’s what we are.” With absolutely no need to classify a sub-genre, and sporting a lead singer in the form of Vancouver’s own Stu Block, the Floridian titans are set to headline a stellar triple-bill at Chinatown’s revered metal hangout. San Jose’s Kill Ritual will open this thing, but the real kicker here is Sanctuary. If you’re at all in the loop of all things Seattle, you’ll be aware that we lost esteemed Sanctuary/Nevermore frontman Warrel Dane to a fatal heart attack this past December. This final Sanctuary tour will feature Witherfall vocalist Joseph Michael filling in on the band’s final farewell tribute. If you were ever an admirer of Dane’s extensive body of work, you will not want to miss this event.
Tickets from $32.50
5. Enslaved and Wolves in the Throne Room at Rickshaw Theatre – Monday, March 5
Facebook/EnslavedIf you’re going to slip Enslaved into nothing but the extreme metal genre, you’re underestimating the value of these Norse gods. In fact, in 2014, guitarist/keyboardist Ivar Bjørnson was commissioned (alongside Wardruna’s Einar Selvik) by the Norwegian government to create a musical piece in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the constitution. Exactly how many metal dudes do you know who would’ve received an honour like that? None, right? Check them out as they headline Decibel Magazine’s 2018 Tour with Olympia’s black metal stalwarts Wolves in the Throne Room offering sturdy support.
Tickets from $32.50
6. Lorde at Rogers Arena – Thursday, March 8
Facebook/LordeI’m not sure if I should apologize for not consuming the Kool-Aid when it comes to Lorde. I mean, “Royals” was a unqualified phenomenon–-people lost their freakin’ minds over that song! Me? I just didn’t get it. Nonetheless, New Zealand’s beloved poster child for millennial alienation will try her absolute darnedest to fill our hockey barn when she stops by on her aptly titled Melodrama World Tour, proving to all the naysayers that there’s no need to “step up” her songwriting game.
Tickets from $46
7. Phillip Phillips at Vogue Theatre – Saturday, March 17
Facebook/Phillip PhillipsCan anybody here remember the name of American Idol ’s last winner without having to look it up on Wikipedia? All I can recall is that it was some dude who I’m pretty sure cheated his way through the group round by seemingly faking a mono diagnosis. That’s all I’ve got on the guy. In the crap-shoot circus made up of reality competition winners, only a small minority are memorable enough for me to take the time to craft a write-up. Such is the case for Phillip Phillips. Sure, you can take your Kelly Clarksons and Carrie Underwoods and all of those nameless/faceless winners of The Voice, but for me, Phillips is the only one who receives a portion of my paycheque whenever he releases a new album. That’s not to say there isn’t talent among the other winners; it’s just that P2 comes across as the most genuine without the burden of pre-fabrication. It’s also noteworthy to take into account that given the high cost of tickets to see the glossier acts of the Idol fold, you can consider this gig to be an absolute bargain.
Tickets from $35
8. The Juno Awards at Rogers Arena – Sunday, March 25
Juno AwardsYeah, you can go ahead and watch Canada’s biggest night in music on TV, but why stay in when The Junos are coming to Vancouver! This year’s shindig will include the induction of 30-year veterans Barenaked Ladies to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and word has it that founding member Steven Page will even make an appearance. Hosted by Burnaby’s own affable and hilarious crooner extraordinaire Michael Bublé, it’s the perfect night out for any Canadian music lover.
Tickets from $59
9. Our Lady Peace and Matthew Good at Abbotsford Centre – Saturday, March 31
Facebook/Our Lady PeaceIf you’re anything like me and you’re feeling a bit nostalgic for the ’90s, I’ve got a great excuse for you to take a bit of a time-travel trip out to the valley. Abbotsford is the place to be if you want to relive those good old days of Edgefest with your opportunity to catch two of Canada’s best offerings from the alternative decade, Our Lady Peace and Matthew Good. I’m lacing up my Docs and I’m good to go! Let me know if you want to come with.
Tickets from $46