Hamilton has always been known as “The Steel Town”, “The Hammer” or “The Ambitious City”, but lately, we’ve also become known as a music and entertainment mecca. Since giving birth to bands like The Killjoys, Monster Truck, Teenage Head, Whitehorse, and of course, the Arkells, more and more people have been perking up and tuning in to the sounds coming out of our city.
So, where do Hamiltonians check out live music? Out of over 100 music venues across the city, we’ve pulled together this list of the top 10 venues to check out live music and entertainment in Hamilton.
Here’s our 2019 list for Hamilton’s 10 best LOCAL spots to see live music.
Originally home to Ivor Wynne Stadium, which saw bands such as Pink Floyd, Rush, and The Tragically Hip descend into the Hammer, Tim Hortons Field is the perfect outdoor venue for any large scale music production. The stadium reached peak music fame thanks to the Arkells’ Rally Cry tour last year.
Since 1935, the Westdale Theatre has been delighting fans in Hamilton. Originally opening as a motion picture theater, the cultural space recently underwent a stunning $4.6 million-dollar renovation that included the introduction of a performance stage, welcoming artists and events for decades to come.
One of North America’s premier entertainment venues, this is THE place to check out internationally touring acts, such as Ozzy Osbourne, Shania Twain, Chicago, BTS and others. Helping Hamilton thrust itself into the Canadian and international music scene include events such as the 2015 Juno awards and the 2018 Canadian Country Music Awards.
It wouldn’t be a concert hall if it wasn’t known to play host to well-known and internationally acclaimed artists and bands. The FirstOntario Concert Hall is known for its gorgeous interior and spectacular acoustics, and has set the stage for bands such as The Headstones, Carly Rae Jepsen, Leonard Cohen, Tony Bennett, and of course The Tragically Hip.
This award-wining and intimate venue is the perfect space for bands who are rising quickly in the Canadian music scene, and those with loyal fans. Located in the heart of downtown in an area just off of FirstOntario Concert Hall, this celebrated venue has hosted bands like Yukon Blonde, The Zolas, and more.
Since the 50’s and 60’s headlining bands like Ronnie Hawkins, The Platters, The Tragically Hip, OMD, Joan Jett, and The Ramones have rolled through the doors of 95 King Street East. It’s also been nominated for the Canadian Live Music Industry Awards for Best Teamwork in a Small Club. The club is a nod to downtown history, and serves up a variety of music genres, theatre, comedy, spoken word, visual art, and film.
Since 2001, this flagship club venue is a fan favourite on the Canadian touring circuit and has played host to bands like The Catholics, The Pixies, Bob Mould, and Wanda Jackson. But this hot spot is more than just music, it also hosts events such as Karaoke Cabaret, Dungeons & Dragon nights, and more.
Anyone who lives in Hamilton has been to – or perhaps even preformed at – Absinthe at least once in their life. This eclectic alternative venue hosts everything from hardcore punk rock, to hip hop, to themed dance parties (including 90’s nights, Motown Wednesdays, and even a Stranger Things themed night).
Sitting comfortably in the number two spot is arguably Hamilton’s best pub. Since 1931, this watering hole has served up entertainment and drinks to its loyal fans. Each week, The Corktown welcomes bands such as The Castor Troys, Black Collar Union, One In The Chamber, and also hosts a weekly Open Mic jam for all you aspiring Bonos.
Sitting at the number one spot on this list is the well-known hub of James Street North. This building has been hosting bands since the 1930s, including the likes of Johnny Winter and Teenage Head, and have served as the set for music videos and album release parties. The future of the bar remains up in the air since being listed for sale last year. One thing is for sure: you cannot check out Hamilton without catching at least one show in this infamous venue.
What changes would you make to our list? Let us know in the comments!