Best Live Music in Montréal

Check Out Montreal's Happening Music Scene at Any of These Eclectic Venues

Montreal has become North America's unofficial indie music scene king, spawning such popular favorites as Arcade Fire and A Simple Plan. At any given time in an empty garage or reasonably priced warehouse space you'll hear the sounds of up and coming new bands. Montrealers support their local talent as does the generous provincial grants to Montreal musicians. Music lovers travel across the continent and beyond to check out Montreal's exciting music scene as there is plenty of variety for all who love live performances. 

Montréal's famous nightlife includes plenty of venues to hear live music. On any given night you can listen to bluegrass, rock or blues at Grumpy's or Quebecois music at Les Dieux Perrots. Montreal is known as a jazz town and you can catch local and international jazz musicians at The House of Jazz. Enjoy some fine dining and vocals at Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill or great pub food alongside Celtic music on Crescent Street. There's even a club for those not into the club scene. Listen to punk, metal, hardcore and emo at the famous and eclectic Foufones Electronique.  Neighborhoods bars and lounges are also good places to hear live music and grab a smart cocktail.



Grab a beer, something to eat and listen to some great music at this three-floor brew pub with a wide fan base. Brutopia keeps five, year-round beers on tap and three seasonal options. Among the year-round options are a classic IPA, a nut brown ale and a raspberry blonde; seasonal brews range from porters and stouts to Scotch ale and cream ale. Live music several nights a week, plus trivia night on Mondays, keep folks entertained, while a lively menu of tapas and sandwiches keep bellies from grumbling. It's a great meeting spot or the perfect place for solo visitors to chill with a quality brew.

Recommended for Live Music because: It's the best spot in the city for beer lovers.

Sherel's expert tip: On Monday it's happy hour all day and night.

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Le Divan Orange
Photo courtesy of Photo Courtesy of Le Divan Orange

Le Divan Orange occupies a vast space divided into sections: guests are greeted with a spread of couches which segue into a bar area and finally a stage at the very back. It's an inviting space with an equally inviting atmosphere. The food menu is excellent, with nachos, upscale sandwiches and salads, and other non-standard bar eats. And the music line-up is wonderfully eclectic, with appearances from singer-songwriters, local funk bands, blues and rock groups, indie musicians, and even choirs and hip-hop acts. The crowd varies depending on what's scheduled, but the vibe is always comfortable.The dance floor is a bit tight but that only adds to the fun.

Recommended for Live Music because: It's a Montreal favorite on "the Main", St. laurent.

Sherel's expert tip: Translates to the Orange Couch and there are several to sit on for when you tire of dancing.

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Photo courtesy of Photo Courtesy of Club Soda

Club Soda's medium-sized, 800-seat concert space sits in a great downtown location and is perfect for performances of all stripes from the "Just For Laughs" comedy fest to name acts from the International Jazz Festival to Burlesque shows and every style in between the two. The second floor of the two storey spot offers the best views and more private seating. It's often possible, with a little elbow jostling, to get close to the band on the first floor. The space tends to be a bit on the narrow side but high ceilings allow for half-decent acoustics. The light shows are well done too.

Recommended for Live Music because: There's a great variety of entertainment here from theater to eclectic music to stand-up and everything in between.

Sherel's expert tip: When possible, best to buy tickets directly through the club as seating is unreserved

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Located in the heart of the party scene on Ste Catherine Street, the crowd is very welcoming as people drift in and out all evening. The bartenders here regularly win "Best of..." awards in the local press – people just love them. And that makes for one happy, friendly, laid back crowd of regulars. The vibe differs from night to night, depending on what's scheduled. Each night has a different theme and ranges from 80's, Goodness Sundays, Grumpy's Happy Mondays, Jazz Night, open jams on Wednesdays, Moonshine on Thursday bluegrass and old-time jams, live bands on Saturdays and more. A really fun place with something for everyone.

Recommended for Live Music because: This was the writer, Mordecai Richler's favorite drinking hole and was immortalized in the movie, Barney's Version.

Sherel's expert tip: A great venue to start or end your evening as it's conveniently located near other nightspots.

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Les Foufs is easy to spot – just look for the giant spider on the front on the Ste Catherine entrance. This bar is the granddaddy of Montreal's alternative scene (it opened in 1983) and has hosted some of the biggest names in music including Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails and Smashing Pumpkins. The club has pool tables and a bar downstairs, while upstairs there's a dance floor and a stage. This place is known for its sound system. There is a cover for the bands but it's always reasonable. The crowd here is diverse--like the music--punk, metal, and hardcore - but everyone gets along and the vibe is welcoming and weirdly charming. The terrace is one of the best in the summer and a great place to see some amazing tattoos.

Recommended for Live Music because: One of Montreal's hippest clubs is conveniently located downtown on Ste Catherine street east.

Sherel's expert tip: Foufone Electrique translates literally to Electric Buttcheeks.

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Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill
Photo courtesy of Photo Courtesy of Upstairs Bar & Grill

A reputation for terrific Continental (especially Spanish) cuisine and a desire to book talented musicians has earned Upstairs a loyal following and a growing clientele. The restaurant serves flavorful dishes that mix the smokiness of grilled meats and seafood with liqueur-tinged sauces, fresh vegetables and the sweetness of lush fruits. The relaxed atmosphere is also conducive to great jazz artists, both local and international. At times, you'll also find R&B performers and other styles of music. While you listen to the rhythmic, seductive tones, make sure to enjoy a glass from their wine cellar, or sample a single-malt scotch. Fantastic food and entertainment in one place – what could be better?

Recommended for Live Music because: A great venue to get a delicious meal with a side of Jazz.

Sherel's expert tip: Most of the shows start at 9 pm and the cover is usually waived after 11 pm.

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For a real taste of local flavor, head over to this neighborhood pub, which has been an area favorite for many years. People congregate here for drinks (beer especially!) and socializing, and it's a great place to meet people. Another perk is the terrific local music that you'll find. Quebecois singers serenade the crowd with folk and pop tunes, and everything is sung in French. Much of the conversation happens in French, too. Still, don't let that stop you from coming. You don't have to dress up, and everyone's very friendly; even a non-French speaker may have one of the best evenings of their trip. Outdoor patio available during warm weather.

Recommended for Live Music because: Here you'll find a true taste of French Canadian musical culture.

Sherel's expert tip: Check out the weekend specials. There's some great 2 for 1 deals and contests.

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Café Campus

Although the name suggests a student hangout, it's more than that as the club has been a solid feature in the east end neighbourhood conveniently located near other drinking establishments. This venue features great live concerts from top independent bands and performers. Depending on the night, you'll find blues music or a variety of other genres. The decor isn't elaborate, but the music more than compensates. It's a fantastic place to come with friends, nurse a beer, and enjoy the sounds of the talented performers. The club also offers great DJ-mixed dance music that's popular with locals and tourists alike.

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The House of Jazz is a legendary jazz club known for hosting the big names of the jazz world. It's often referred to as the "Canadian Mecca of Jazz." The restaurant has a warm, laid-back feel with wooden tables, brass highlights and intimate lighting. All tables have good sight lines for the stage and the acoustics are excellent. On the menu is a feast of Louisiana-style BBQ chicken, ribs, steaks and great cocktails. The outside terrace is a great place to hang, enjoy a drink and listen to cool tunes by local jazz musicians. If you're lucky there'll be an impromptu jam session with surprise guests.

Recommended for Live Music because: This is one of Canada's premier Jazz clubs that has hosted most of the greats.

Sherel's expert tip: This is unofficial hangout for fans and performers during the International Jazz Festival.

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Established in September 2000, Casa Del Popolo (The House of the People) is Montreal's only family-run neighborhood vegetarian hot-spot! Part fair-trade cafe, part music venue, part resto-bar and part art gallery.Where else would you find an eclectic mix of music, art, snacks, film, zines, spoken word and the hottest bartenders in town! The Casa holds up to 55 people and is an intimate and warm place to see live performances. We are open from noon for soup, salad and sandwiches. Come on by and enjoy a relaxing afternoon and plan on staying for early or late evening performances. The scene changes frequently so check listings before planning your night out.

Recommended for Live Music because: Playing at this show bar is a rite of passage in Montreal's music community.

Sherel's expert tip: Get here early as the place only holds 55 people.

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Meet Sherel Purcell

Sherel Purcell is a travel writer who specializes in golf, Montreal and Quebec, contemporary art, cycling and food and wine. Her articles appear on USA Today's 10Best,, Aol, Matador,...  More About Sherel