The Best Shows Hitting Vancouver in March 2023

From a Japanese punk quartet to a '90s Cali alt-rock band and a true Americana legend, it's all happening this month

From a Japanese punk quartet to a ’90s Cali alt-rock band and a true Americana legend, it’s all happening this month

1. Sloan at Commodore Ballroom – Saturday, March 4SloanSloan

They’re basing themselves in Toronto now, but no matter where these guys currently reside, I think it’s fair to say Sloan will always be considered everybody’s favourite mop-topped Haligonians. These former Maritimers have repeatedly trudged through the mire of the Canadian music industry for more than three decades, making darned sure they’ve tapped into every nook and cranny of our great nation to make themselves seen and heard with their humorous and intoxicating Beatle-esque musicality. They’ve just recently released their 13th album Steady, and it’s a real banger. If you find yourself surfing through YouTube, check out the video for “Scratch the Surface” and dare to tell me you don’t love it. I should also mention this gig is officially sold out (as it should be!), so there are only resales to be had at the moment. But take my advice and check out the ticket link on show day, because you never know if they’ll release those last-minute production holds that’ll keep you from digging into your wallet too deeply.
Resale tickets from $67.83

2. Otoboke Beaver at Commodore Ballroom – Sunday, March 5Otoboke BeaverFacebook/Otoboke Beaver

Formed at Kyoto University’s music club, and taking their name from a local, umm, “love hotel,” Otoboke Beaver might just become your new punk-rock obsession. This energetic Japanese all-girl quartet has been around since 2009, but the members finally managed to quit their day jobs in 2020 after stints at Coachella and SXSW. With an aggressive and fast-paced performance style, incorporating frequent rhythm and tempo changes, and drawing influence from “riot grrrl” attitudes, they’ve garnered high praise from some pretty big names in the business, including that cool Foo dude, Dave Grohl. Last year, they released their first full studio album (featuring all new songs, rather than compiling them from previous EPs or live recordings) titled Super Champion, and it has received rave reviews. Here’s your chance to check them out before everyone else claims ownership of their favourite new grrrl group.
Tickets from $35.50

3. Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit with Kathleen Edwards at Queen Elizabeth Theatre – Sunday, March 5Jason IsbellFacebook/Jason Isbell

Alabama native and former Drive-By Trucker Jason Isbell and his band of expert Muscle Shoals musicians, The 400 Unit, finally bring their tasty Americana vibes back to our city after a lengthy recess (12 years, from what I can gather). I don’t normally get too political in this forum, but if you’re going to this show, expect to hear some cuts from their most recent release, Georgia Blue, which was Isbell’s pledge to record a cover album featuring songs from only Georgia-based musicians in celebration of Joe Biden’s blue victory in the historically red state. I’ll leave that up to you if you’re there for it. As an added bonus, Ottawa’s own alt-country sweetheart Kathleen Edwards will be in tow, and her setlist will likely feature a few tracks from her critically acclaimed 2020 release, Total Freedom. If I were you, I’d on that ticket link now as they’re getting swept up quickly.
Tickets from $64.90

4. John Mellencamp at Orpheum Theatre – Monday, March 13 and Tuesday, March 14John MellencampFacebook/John Mellencamp

To bear witness to the way my brain works, it’s always about a Seinfeld reference. Remember that time Jerry’s cousin Artie corrected him on the pronunciation of his last name? Leveen? Levine? “Yeah, and I’m Jerry Cougar Mellencamp.” Never mind. Anyway, John Mellencamp will stop by, sans Cougar, for two stints at Vancity’s most revered vintage venue. This 71-year-old heartland rock legend has been around the block a time or two, and he never fails to deliver an unfeigned and authentic performance to his longstanding loyal fan base. Expect him to bring an abundance of hits from his four-decade-plus career, along with perhaps a speck or two from his 24th studio album, Strictly a One-Eyed Jack.
Tickets from $75.95

5. Red Hot Chili Peppers at BC Place Stadium – Wednesday, March 29Red Hot Chili PeppersRed Hot Chili Peppers

Call me a little confused, but somebody please explain to me why Red Hot Chili Peppers, after 40 years, are just now playing stadiums? I’m not talking about the times they were taking part in festivals like Lollapalooza, I’m meaning as headliners. Don’t get me wrong, the Cali alt-rockers were a pretty great thing… back in the ’90s. Remember when Dave Navarro was in the band for about five minutes? Yeah, that’s what I remember best, and I do realize that’s probably just me. But I digress, they were really quite fantasticthen! But honestly now? That’s a big no for me. I respect music is subjective, but I’m hard-pressed to come up with anything they’ve done that’s been awesome since, IMO, Californication, and that was back in 1999. OK, well, I’ll just throw my hands up in the air and feel thankful for the fact an actual rock band is playing at the big barn in my neighbourhood, because yeah, I’ll probably listen anyway.
Tickets from $142.35