17 Live Music Venues in Calgary
Music venues and nightclubs to catch a concert of any genre.
Ironwood Stage and Grill in Inglewood.
Photograph by Jared Sych
If you’re not the kind of person who’s going to see the latest chart topper at the Saddledome, that doesn’t mean your live music options are up. Au contraire — there are numerous live music venues in Calgary that go beyond the iconic Stampede Park venue, the casinos and the Jubilee.
Here are 17 live music venues to check out whether you like jazz, world music, hip-hop or anything in between.
(This round-up doesn’t include restaurants and cafes with live music. And, there are plenty of those in Calgary.)
This multi-venue performing space has six theatres although most live music performances are in the Jack Singer Concert Hall, which is the largest theatre and sits 1,800. That's the main performance space for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and hosts plenty of local and touring musicians. Arts Commons also hosts music series including BD&P World Music, TD Jazz and PCL Blues. Whatever your taste in music, Arts Commons hosts live concerts throughout the year.
205 8 Ave. S.E., 403-294-9494, artscommons.ca
This beautiful, relatively new concert hall is located right in the heart of the Mount Royal University Conservatory and has state-of-the-art acoustics. The space sits almost 800. It's part of the Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts which hosts a concert series that includes a wide range of music genres including singer-songwriters, rock choirs, jazz and orchestral music.
Specializing in blues music concerts, this live music venue has concerts every day of the week. It’s an intimate venue, which means everyone attending has a good view of the performers. The venue hosts up-and-coming local performers as well as big name musicians from the blues world. Musicians such as Tim Leacock, local band Cowpuncher and American band Mississippi Heat have performed here.
1429 9 Ave. S.E., 403-262-2666, thebluescan.com
It makes sense that Broken City is a go-to live music venue. After all, it’s situated on what was previously Electric Avenue. The venue has been hosting live music since 2004. Musicians performing here come from all over North America as well as Europe and Asia. A few of the notable performers to grace this stage include The Strumbellas and Chris Hayden from Florence and The Machine.
Broken City also hosts weekly comedy nights, DJ sets and trivia nights.
613 11 Ave. S.W., 403-262-9976, brokencity.ca
This venue can get rowdy. Commonwealth is a warehouse-turned-bar and has two floors as well as an impressive patio. The mid-sized nightclub hosts DJs, hip-hop artists and album and event launches.
731 10 Ave. S.W., 403-247-4663, commonwealthbar.ca
On the west end of downtown, this pub has a huge stage that hosts hip-hop, punk and rock shows. It also hosts comedy nights. Before the live music starts, play a game of pool or darts, or satisfy your craving for good pub food.
1000 9 Ave. S.W., 403-233-7550, dickenspub.ca
The Calgary Folk Festival team finally got its very own venue in January 2013. The space is in Inglewood and has a modern European design, with an industrial-looking exterior. Its multi-purpose hall is used for concerts as well as art and private events. Big names have performed here in the last two years, including Martha Wainright and Ryan Adams.
1215 10 Ave. S.E., festivalhallcalgary.ca
This venue is as intimate as they come — it’s in Jackie Bourgaize and Dale Sorensen’s home. With the help of Chris Gheran and other local artists, the couple hosts live music in their living room. It’s a not-for-profit endeavour and most of the ticket sales are given back to the performers. The venue isn’t licensed but attendees can bring what they want to drink as well as a plate of food to share. Concerts at this kid-friendly venue are relaxed and low-key.
119 Nottingham Rd. N.W., galleryhouseconcerts.com
Even though this venue is at SAIT, it’s not a students-only space. The Gateway hosts both small-scale events as well as large events with room for more than 500. Whale and the Wolf and Ocean Alley are both scheduled to perform there in the spring.
1301 16 Ave. N.W., 403-284-8760, saitsa.com/gateway
This venue opened in 2005 and has hosted some big international artists such as Steve Aoki, Frank Black of The Pixies and Joel Plaskett. The Hifi Club has become a Calgary music institution and is helping put Calgary on the map as a music destination. And there’s a dance floor.
219 10 Ave. S.W., 403-263-5222, hificlub.ca
In the historic Garry Theatre building, the Ironwood an all-ages venue that seats around 140 and hosts live music all year round. It’s a fun venue with an unmatchable ambience and a good menu. Reserve your spot and the cost of the concert is added to your bill. A range of artists and genres perform at the Ironwood, but there is an emphasis toward folk and roots. The popular Prime Time Big Band perform regularly for weekend brunch.
1229 9 Ave. S.E., 403-269-5581, ironwoodstage.ca
MacEwan Hall is another multi-venue space. This one is on the University of Calgary campus and includes MacEwan Hall, MacEwan Ballroom and the campus bar, The Den. The University of Calgary has hosted A-list international performers including The Pixies and The Decemberists.
2500 University Dr. N.W., 403-220-7968, machallconcerts.com
Mikey’s original location recently closed, but its second location on 12th Avenue S.W. is keeping the music going. It has live music every day of the week, mostly of the roots and blues variety. Expect to see locals perform, including Steve Pineo and Tim Williams. Mikey’s also has lunch, dinner and a weekend brunch, and its menu is mostly Tex-Mex.
918 12 Ave. S.W., 403-452-8060, mikeyson12th.com
This building on Stephen Avenue has been a few things over its nearly a century long lifespan. It started as a theatre for films and vaudeville acts. It's been a nightclub. Recently it might be best remembered as Flames Central. Now it is back to being a stellar concert and event space. Look for the names of the latest performers on the marquee out front.
219 8 Ave. S.W., 587-393-6993, thepalacetheatre.ca
Studio Bell in the East Village is where you'll find the National Music Centre, which is full of Halls of Fame, music archives and a variety of exhibitions. It also has a Performance Hall with tiered seating and retractable walls. The NMC has musicians in residence and hosts several local and touring musicians for intimate concerts. When the weather is warm the music often spills out into the public spaces of East Village where some of the seating has been designed to turn into stages.
850, 851 4 St. S.E., 403-543-5115, nmc.ca
The music performed here is diverse. There’s everything from punk to rock to roots. Palomino hosts concerts downstairs with most shows costing only $10. On the weekend, there is often live music upstairs too. And it’s right on the train line, so it’s really easy to get home after a show.
109 7 Ave. S.W., 403-532-1911, thepalominoshowroom.ca