• By: Kat Walcott

BEST OF OTTAWA 2019: Live music venues

After over 20-years writing about life in Ottawa, we think we have
a pretty good idea of the best of what this city has to offer.
In this weekly series, we share our picks with you —
our top hotels, live music venues, local brews, bands
and more. Check, share and discuss #OLMBest every week!

HEADER PHOTO: Features the Ottawa band Sussex during the finals of the OLM CoverMe! contest.

Barrymore’s Music Hall – 323 Bank Street

If you are of the 80’s or 90’s generation, Barrymore’s is your go to spot. Over its 40 year history, Barrymore’s has hosted tons of local and major bands on its stage, making it one of Canada’s most important music venues. As an added bonus, they sometimes even play nostalgic 80’s shows on their big screen behind the stage!

Photo: Barrymore’s Music Hall Facebook

The Rainbow Bistro – 76 Murray Street

This long-standing club, located in the heart of the ByWard Market, is a great spot to take in some great live music and some great cocktails! Rainbow Bistro’s reputation in the city has earned them the title of “Ottawa's Legendary Home of the Blues” with legendary artists from near and far performing on its intimate, but impressive, stage. Perfect place to drop by if you’re looking for something to do on a Friday night!

Photo: JC Batista

National Arts Centre – 1 Elgin Street

The NAC is definitely the city’s, and arguably one of the country’s most prestigious venues. However, over the last couple of years, it has proven to be very inclusive to artists of all genres and levels of fame. The Centre’s gorgeous theatres and rooms have hosted concerts by popular local acts like The Peptides to legendary superstars like Diana Ross. It’s also a prime spot to take in plays, musicals and orchestra performances.

Photo: National Arts Centre

Algonquin Commons Theatre – 1385 Woodroffe Avenue

It may be located on the Algonquin College campus and operated by the Students’ Association, but this beautiful theatre hosts more than just student events. It seats 700 and has hosted various concerts and showcases over the years. Some notable artists that have taken the stage include Tegan and Sara, Prozzak, Simple Plan and many more.

Photo: Algonquin Commons Theatre Facebook

LIVE! On Elgin – 220 Elgin Street

This place really did their research. No, really. LIVE! On Elgin opened in 2015, after two years of chitty chat, debates, polls and questionnaires focusing on how to better live theatre and music in Ottawa. The result is a spot that has different music nearly every night. They also host films and other artsy things throughout the year.

Photo: Dave Di Ubaldo via Live! On Elgin

Queen St. Fare – 170 Queen Street

Queen St. Fare has quickly become one of the city’s hottest music venues! In just a year’s time, it has hosted a range of musicians on its stage like local faves The Tackies, as well as various DJs for their monthly “Happy Hour Beats” series. The venue also partnered with Ottawa Jazz Fest this year to host some of the talent. Since Queen St. Fare is both a food hall and music venue, you can basically spend all day there!

Photo: Kat Walcott

Mavericks – 221 Rideau Street

Rock fans, Mavericks is the place for you to get your head bangin' on! This gem is Ottawa's prime spot for live rock, grunge and punk music. Over the years, Mavericks has welcomed hundreds of top notch rock acts to its stage from both Canada and abroad. You have to check out this Ottawa landmark at least once!

Photo Credit: Vadim Tslaf via Google Maps

Options Jazz Lounge at Brookstreet – 525 Legget Drive

If you’re into the relaxed, sophisticated vibe, Options is the spot for you! Located in the stunning Brookstreet Hotel, this is Ottawa’s only jazz lounge and it doesn’t disappoint. Whether you’re staying at the hotel or a local just looking for somewhere to spend the evening, rest assured you’ll be treated to great cocktails and even greater music. Live music is hosted there 7 days a week!

 Photo: Options Jazz Lounge at Brookstreet

House of TARG – 1077 Bank Street

It’s classic arcade games, pinball machines and delicious perogies! When you add live music to the joint, House of Targ is a one-stop shop for all things awesome. It’s not everyday you get to hear the sweet sounds of punk mingling with the familiar 80’s lament of a dying Pac-Man.

Photo: Clint Butler via Google Maps

Bronson Centre – 211 Bronson Avenue

The Bronson Centre is one of Ottawa’s most popular community centres, but did you know it also houses an awesome theatre? The theatre can seat almost 900 people, but still has that intimate, communal feel perfect for small and mid-size shows. We especially love that a lot of the concerts and showcases that are hosted there are affordable, family-friendly and accessible to all.

Photo: Bronson Centre