Culture + Style

Sound Check: Best Places to Catch Live Music in Montreal

Channel your inner punk at Turbo Haus. (Photo: Hannah Sourbeer)

Montreal is renowned for being a live music haven. It’s the city where Grammy Award–winning Arcade Fire and pop chameleon Grimes got their respective starts. Every week there seems to be a can’t-miss music event on the calendar.

Tourists also tend to flock to the city annually for the Montreal International Jazz Festival (late June to early July), Osheaga Festival (early August) and POP Montreal (September).

Montreal music venues
Make a splash at Osheaga Festival. (Photo: Susan Moss)

But even if you’re visiting outside of festival season, chances are there’s still something cool going on, and fans of pretty much every genre of music can find a home away from home inside one of Montreal’s concert halls.

With the help of this guide to Montreal music venues, mélomanes (meaning “music lovers” in French) from around the world will be able to experience this vibrant, ever-changing scene like a local.

For Punk: Turbo Haus

Montreal has its fair share of punk rock venues, but packing into this small room on the second floor of an old bank building in the St. Henri neighborhood truly feels like a communal experience. There’s no distance between the front rows and the stage, making every show an intimate one.

For Rock: Metropolis

Montreal music venues
Rock the night away at Metropolis. [Photos: Benoit Rousseau (L), FredericMenardAubin (R)]

Also known as the M Telus and located in the heart of the city’s “Quartier des Spectacles” district, this hallowed concert hall has existed in some form since the 19th century.

It holds around 2,400 people, making it the perfect stepping stone for rock acts just below arena-level status. It’s also where Prince famously performed a four-hour, multi-encore extravaganza during the 2011 edition of Jazz Fest.

For Electronic Music: Igloofest

You haven’t truly experienced all Montreal has to offer unless you’ve attended this unique electronic music festival that occurs over a series of weekends in January and February.

Where else could you see the world’s hottest house and techno DJs in a beautifully illuminated outdoor venue when it’s snowing or below freezing? The only way to warm up is by grabbing your most garish one-piece snowsuit and dancing all night. An unforgettable experience.

For DIY Fans: Casa del Popolo

This snug, community-oriented, two-room bar and venue space in the Mile End seemingly has something going on every night, from international up-and-coming touring acts to experimental locals performing everything from noise and ambient to post-rock and indie. If ever you attend the venue-hopping POP Montreal festival, a stop at Casa del Popolo is inevitable.

For Underground Electronic Music: Newspeak

Montreal music venues
Turn it up to 11 at Newspeak. (Photo: Arthur Rad)

Formerly a punk venue atop a skate store, the Orwellian-titled Newspeak was christened as an electronic music hub in 2015. With its LED-lighted ceiling and mammoth sound system, this dark space is for true beat obsessives. If you’re in need of a break, there’s a bar toward the back of the room with couches for lounging.

For Hip-Hop: Apt. 200

It wouldn’t be a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night in Montreal without an evening on bustling St. Laurent Boulevard. Even in the dead of winter you’ll see clubbers standing in line waiting to get into Apt. 200.

If there’s a big hip-hop act in Montreal that night, chances are there’s a raucous after-party planned here later that night. It’s the sort of place where Travis Scott or Joey Badass might pop bottles over your head.

For Indie Rock: Bar Le Ritz PDB

The great thing about a lot of Montreal’s venues is they’re run by artists themselves. This is especially apparent at this inviting Mile-Ex neighborhood watering hole. One night they might show a movie or a hockey game on a projector while the next night there will be a great multi-act bill courtesy of local promoter and venue co-owner Blue Skies Turn Black.

The other owners are members of famed Montreal instrumental band Godspeed You! Black Emperor.