Canadian music venues are dropping like flies

January 16, 2017

Of the essential building blocks for a thriving music scene, a solid infrastructure is one of the most obvious and needed. Without places to play, we all lose access to the connections—professional and personal—that make a life involved in music so special. It’s long been said that Canada’s tough winters harbour creativity; everyone shacks up inside on cold stretches and is afforded a wealth of time to create, create, create. But once it’s all ready to go, the idea is usually to head out into the world and share it. In this past week, multiple venues have closed, some are on the brink of existence, and some have been forced to reconsider their models.


While recently closed Vancouver’s Railway Club has some new owners, the hopes that it might be re-opened as a venue were dashed when those owners (the Donnelly Group) would not be including live performances in the pub they plan to open at the location. The group have mentioned they’ll be looking at ways to pay tribute to the old venue, but details are scarce on that so far. In Toronto, both the Hoxton and Soybomb HQ closed their doors as well, the latter leaving a massive dent in the city’s DIY scene. It looks like Hugh’s Room, also in Toronto, is holding on after a bit of a closure scare, with some plans to restructure the venue. And the future of the Carleton in Halifax looks grim after an attempt to sell the venue fell through, leaving embattled owner Mike Campbell giving the venue “a million to one” odds for survival.

It’s not like the closing of venues is anything new—it’s not an easy business to navigate—but the sheer amount of closures over the last little while casts a pall over the Canadian music scene. People will always find places to play, but the struggle is a rough one to endure with things like this. Get out and see shows as much as you can!


In Other News:


Festival Lineups: Toronto’s Wavelength and Guelph’s Hillside Inside

About the Author

Matt Williams

Matt Williams is a writer and photographer. Born and raised on the Prairies in Winnipeg, he’s slowly made his way farther and farther east, spending a few years covering music in Toronto before running clear out of country and ending up on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. In between, he’s made numerous detours, interviewing and photographing countless artists across North America and beyond. He heads up Amplify’s Instrumental series, where he talks with musicians about the relationships they’ve formed with their most important tools.

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