Friday, 23 September 2011

My Favorite Small-Stage Music Venues

Winnipeg has a pretty great music scene, the only problem is; unless you pay attention, sometimes it's hard to find.

However, if and when, you do go out to a show, there a bunch of great small venues. Whether it's Mother Mother at The Garrick, Sloan at the Pyramid, or Xavier Rudd at the Burt, Winnipeg's converted movie theaters and cabarets provide an awesome atmosphere for partying and listening to great tunes.

Not being a musician, well not one that plays in a band in front of an audience, here are my favorite venues as a audience member.
Face To Face at the Garrick, 2011

3. The Burton Cumming's Theater: 364 Smith Street in the Exchange District. This converted movie theater has a rad dance floor and lots of seating. However, if you get a cheaper seat, then you better not be afraid of heights.

The dance floor is a little small, but there are seats on the first floor that are great for intimate concerts done without microphones, like the Hawksley Workman show in 07.'

The stairs leading to the last section, on the third floor, at the top back of the theater is like climbing a step ladder. When you finally do get to your seat, its like your sitting on the edge of a cliff.

Be careful not to have too many drinks when sitting in those seats. The theater has a great intimate atmosphere and the stairs just add to the theater's charm.

It was also the first venue that I was allowed to go to a concert without parental supervision: Sum 41 in 2003.

2. The Garrick Center: 330 Garry Street, also in the Exchange District, and is also a converted movie theater. This year was the first year I attended shows at the Garrick, and it was nothing short of amazing. The acoustics are awesome; it's not a big venue, so its easy to fill the place up with sound.

The front of the venue used to be front row seats for the movie theater, but the seats have been removed and now it is a big open dance floor. For shows like Face to Face and Strung Out, it is essential for mosh pits.

The venue is only two stories high, the seating is spread out and over looks the dance pit.

The only problem with the Garrick is, that the dance floor is sloped downward, so you end up with sore knees after long shows.

Jason Cruz from Strung Out at The Garrick, 2011

1. The Pyramid Cabaret, 176 Fort Street, downtown Winnipeg. When I was younger, perhaps underage, before the drivers licenses were so difficult to copy, the Pyramid was the place to be Thursday nights for MOD night.

Since being of-age, the Pyramid has quickly become my favorite small-stage music venues.

The venue is really just a large bar with some tables and seating at the back, a big side patio and two bars; one beside the stage and the other at the back of the bar. But something about its grungy-ness, the posters of old rock groups on the walls, and the weird mummy dolls hiding in different places around the bar, make you feel like New York rock and roll in the 70's, even if it's The Rural Alberta Advantage (2011) playing on stage.
Mother Mother at the Garrick, 2011

*Sorry all the pictures are of the Garrick, I'll post more of the other venues when I get some. Also going to add two more venues at a later date: The Death Trap and the Park Theater.


  1. My all time fave venue is Park Theatre on Osborne. Funky vibe, great sound, great Canadian content, affordable tix and not a bad seat in the house. I've been privileged to see Justin Rutledge, Said the Whale, Jason Collett... just to name a few. My fave though, was Del Barber doing a full Bruce Springsteen new years eve bash. Killer.

    I really enjoy the Garrick as well. All time fave show there was Plaskett touring his prolific album, Three. If you dig this venue, don't miss Hey Rosetta! this November 17th. One of the best bands in the entire world.

  2. I love the Park - except the owner sometimes cuts bands short (witness the abandoned Holy Fuck encore).

    The Garrick makes my ankles cry in agony - nothing like an Against Me mosh pit on a 45-degree angle. Makes Grandpa Larsen angry.

    The Pyramid is delightful. I've seen many cool bands there: Meat Puppets, Cracker, Echo and the Bunnymen, Violent Femmes, Robyn Hitchcock, English Beat, Free Energy, Ima Robot, Secret Machines, Frank Black, Juliette Lewis, Cub...uh-oh, I think there may be too many to list.

    With the right promotion, I've always thought the Pyramid could be Winnipeg's answer to Minneapolis' First Avenue.


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