Looking to enjoy live music in the city? These eight local artists have you covered with their favourite spots
1. Bif Naked
"In Vancouver, I love to go to The Rickshaw Theatre. I want very much to support venues like The Rickshaw because the owners and staff have so much integrity and are very encouraging to the eclectic and great variety of musicians that grace their stage.
"One of my favourite show memories in Vancouver was when I saw New York band, 24-7 Spyz in 1989 at 86 Street Music Hall—unforgettable performances by Jimi Hazel and Rick Skatore. It made me want to tour with the band, as their back up singer. Instead, I joined Winnipeg punk band, GorillaGorilla. The rest, as they say, is history."
Bif Naked is a celebrated and notorious performer in music, TV, film and dance, and a tireless advocate and Humanitarian. Orphaned in India, emancipated by punk rock and empowered by surviving breast cancer, kidney failure, heart surgery, divorce and surviving as a woman in the entertainment industry for 25 years, Bif has transcended any and all obstacles placed in her path to become one of the world's most unique, recognizable and beloved icons.
When asked about what her favourite pastimes are, she has only one answer: "Living loudly." When not on rock tours around the world, Canada's Queen of Punk splits her time between Paris, France, New Delhi, India and her beloved Vancouver, Canada.
2. Dameian Walsh
"I think the best place for live emerging music right now is at Guilt & Co. They have live music every night and have a great diversity of acts with an audience that supports the artists even if it isn't Top 40. The music usually isn't in fact, and allows for experimentation by some of the city's best musicians to play the music they are developing.
"My favourite show that I've seen since moving here not at the big arena venues was Les Claypool at The Commodore maybe six years back... so exciting and intensely musical. The sound and show was amazing, and still is an inspiring act to remember. I'll never forget him prancing around on stage with a monkey mask on playing his one-string bass. It wasn't even Halloween!"
Dameian Walsh is a sax player, singer and multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire with a degree in classical performance and experience performing a variety of musical styles. Originally from Newfoundland, he has been on the Vancouver music scene since 2002 as a freelance musician and was a member of Five Alarm Funk for 10 years touring B.C., Canada and the U.S. on the club and festival circuit. Currently embarking on solo and collaborative projects, he is a tour de force on stage and loves the performing life.
3. Sanjay Seran
"I love going to see live music at Guilt & Co. in Gastown. It's an awesome vibe. It sounds great inside that stone basement and on any given day, the résumés of the musicians just hanging out down there is pretty unbelievable.
"My favourite memory of seeing a show in Vancity goes back to November 3, 1992 watching U2 at BC Place. It was my first concert (not including Charlotte Diamond) and it blew my mind! The size of the whole thing was so intense and combined with it being my first concert, it was truly epic."
Sanjay Seran is one of the founding members of Delhi 2 Dublin, a happy accident born out of Vancouver’s Celtic Fest in 2006. Their sound started as an electronic fusion between bhangra beats and Celtic fiddle and has since grown into anything from dub reggae to breakbeats to just straight up happy dance music. Word spread about their ridiculously energetic live show, and these road warriors have been touring constantly since, mesmerizing crowds at many of the top festivals across Canada and the US, blowing people away in the UK, Australia, Germany and Malaysia as well as performing to awe-filled audiences in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Dubai.
4. DJ Leanne
"The Commodore... it's a Vancouver institution! It has an amazing sound system and is the perfect spot to check out my favourite artists up-close-and-personal. The Orpheum because it has incredible acoustics, it's a gorgeous room and has so much history. Fortune Sound Club because they consistently book the hottest indie, soul, underground, house and hip-hop artists. And The Anza! It's the best place to check out local talent and top-notch session musicians in Vancity.
"My fave memory of a show in Vancouver was seeing Prince perform at BarNone to a crowd of 100 people until 4 a.m. after his concert at Rogers Arena. Nothing can top that! He absolutely slayed."
DJ Leanne is the owner and operator of GirlOnWax DJs & Musicians. She has been DJing with a solid reputation for over 15 years, and has built a team of incredible, award-winning DJs & Musicians. GirlOnWax is Vancouver’s No. 1 female-owned DJ Company and Leanne is a large contributor to Canada’s thriving DJ scene through her creation of GirlOnWax Events, DJ Schools & House Music radio shows. In her long and prosperous DJ career, she has spun alongside the best in the business: Kaskade, Boy George, Armand Van Helden, Bob Sinclair and Mark Farina, to name a few. Local DJ to the stars, DJ Leanne also most recently DJ'd a private event hosted by the Prime Minster of Canada Justin Trudeau attended by Royalty: the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge!
5. Leslie Harris
"When I have a rare evening off, going out to see live music is what I choose to do. In this past year alone, I've seen (to name a few) The Violent Femmes, Squeeze, Norah Jones, Fearing & White, The Proclaimers, Jon Cleary, The Kills, Daniel Lanois, Mary Margaret O’Hara, The Fixx, Rough Trade, Chris Cornell, Ry Cooder, Neil Young, Richard Thompson, Patty Griffin, Nick Lowe, The Bumper Jacksons, The Heavy—and many, many more.
"And those are just the big names! I also goes to see local acts around Vancouver as often as possible at places like The Revel Room, Pat’s Pub, The Yale, St. James Hall, The Fairview Pub, Blue Frog Studio, Backstage Lounge, The Main on Main, Chai Lounge and all the other places that host live music.
"My favourite musical memory? Seeing Led Zeppelin all five times they played Vancouver and once in Tacoma (Page & Plant). Yup. Awesome."
Leslie is one of Vancouver’s busiest professional singers playing in the city and around the lower mainland in the popular acts Lesismore and the acoustic blues/roots act Harris&DeBray.
6. Skye Wallace
Nelson Mouellic"I’m a big fan of what’s going on for the DIY side of things. Big fan of SoFar shows, which take place in alternative spaces around Vancouver and countless other cities around the world. Big fan of the Lido. Big fan of great people making great events in great spaces, like Notional Space.
"My favourite show was back when The Weakerthans and The Constantines were touring together and came through The Commodore. I’m biased, though. They’re my faves. Another fave memory... seeing Big Thief at The Biltmore!"
Skye Wallace is what happens when a classically trained singer with East Coast roots discovers punk rock in their youth and writes music that makes you feel excited.
7. Reid Jamieson
"We don’t get out to see a lot of live music between touring and recording and day jobs, but when we do we can always count on the Rogue Folk Club for quality programming at St. James Hall. Lately we have been enjoying shows at The Emerald (so retro sexy), and are currently kicking ourselves for being out of town for Jill Barber’s show with her brother at The Vogue.
"Most recently were completely wowed by C.R. Avery at The Cobalt. He just never disappoints. At one point he left the stage and walked out into the audience, climbed on a stool with his acoustic and held us all captive unplugged. Two of his band members then came out dressed as cops and dragged him away... They looked a little like male strippers so the ladies in the audience started yelling for them to "Take it off!"
Vancouver’s Reid Jamieson shines his light with an incredible voice and magical melodies. An award-winning songwriter and regular guest on Vinyl Café, Reid has recorded with Cowboy Junkies, Sarah Harmer and members of Blue Rodeo and Be Good Tanyas. Known for his compelling interpretations of everything from '50s-era Elvis and Orbison to Leonard Cohen, and performing alongside his saucy wife and songwriting partner Carolyn Victoria Mill, they are a little Johnny and June meets Fleetwood Mac and all about the songs!
8. Theo Vincent
"The Commodore is my favourite venue because of how historical it is. So many huge bands have been through those back-alley doors over the years. The dance floor is amazing—great sound—100 per cent my favourite place to watch and play a show. It feels a bit like being a part of Vancouver history every time you walk in.
"My favourite show? Lee Scratch Perry at Richards on Richards. This 70-year-old dub legend from Jamaica walked on stage with a hard hat covered with pieces of broken mirrors and a staff in is left hand which had a shinny green skull on the top of it. He then lit candles all over his stage and proceeded to command everyone in the room with his performance for the next hour and a half—gave me chills all night."
Born and raised in East Vancouver, Theo Vincent plays drums/percussion in The Boom Booms, an indie-soul band that has busked across Europe, performed in the Brazilian Amazon and Rio’s famous ‘Casa Rosa’, toured in a Scamper RV the 12,000-km round-trip from Vancouver to Panama and circumnavigated the United States twice in their yellow school bus. Theo is also a founding member of the African marimba band called Kutapira which was formed about 16 years ago.