Calgary may not be the first place that first comes to mind when someone asks about live music, but the city actually has a very vibrant local music scene to explore. Whether you want a full concert experience or a bar with some background music, there is a venue here for you. To make your search easier no matter what day of the week it is, we found the five best music venues in Calgary to help you get started.
The Palomino Smokehouse
The Palomino Smokehouse is a barbecue joint with a bar and great sounds found in the heart of downtown Calgary. They host local and international bands in their downstairs music room, which has a unique Western vibe. Upcoming shows are listed on their website, so you can browse the sheer variety of featured music coming up. Conveniently, the C-train stops right near their front door, so you don't have to deal with the hassle of downtown parking. All shows are 18+, but children accompanied by a parent or guardian are welcome until 8pm from Sunday to Wednesday and 4pm from Thursday to Saturday.
Ironwood Stage and Grill
Ironwood Stage and Grill is an all-ages restaurant and venue hosting both original music and cover bands. The exterior is reminiscent of an old movie theater, and the interior brings up memories of old dinner-with-a-show venues. Show prices range from free to a $25 cover charge, but the price of the show is added to your receipt afterwards instead of buying tickets beforehand. They also host periodic open mics if you want to get up on the stage yourself.
The Blues Can
The Blues Can is a live blues bar found in Inglewood, Calgary, but is easily accessible from downtown and Deerfoot. Blues Can has live music every day of the week with a wide range of local and big name blues performers. It's not a flashy venue, but the intimate atmosphere suits the blues perfectly and offers a great line of sight to the stage. If you'd like to eat during the show, they have a Southern-inspired menu with barbecue, po boys, jambalaya, and more.
Dickens is a local pub and music venue that hosts gaming events and also offers eight different seasoning options for your fries. Dickens hosts a variety of genres of music, as well as drag shows, trivia nights, and one of Calgary's longest-running gaming days every Sunday. Their wide variety of shows and low cover charges make them a great pick for casual fun any day of the week.
One of the greatest things about Broken City is Rockin For Dollars or (R4$) every Wednesday. Any band can sign up to do a 15-minute set on Broken City's equipment, where each band member gets a free beer and bands spin the wheel to win $200-$1000 every week. The amount goes up by $200 each week that nobody wins until it can hit $1000. It's great fun for both the bands and the audience, since the 15-minute sets are like the speed dating of local music and you get to see a huge variety of shows in just a few hours. Broken City also hosts the longest-running comedy open mic in Western Canada every Monday at 8pm, so there's something for everyone.
Calgary has great local options for music venues whether you want an evening of intimate blues, dinner with a show, or a real headbanging kind of night. It's hard to go wrong supporting local businesses and musicians, no matter what genre and mood you prefer.