hamilton concerts

The top 10 concert and live music venues in Hamilton

Concert and live music venues in Hamilton date back to the founding of The 1,100 capacity Grand Opera House for music and theatre in the 1880's. Notably, in 1958 Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks played their first show at the Golden Rail tavern on King St. East. Today the largest venue for music (and sports) is FirstOntario Centre (Copps) with a 19,000 capacity, which opened in November 1985. There remain no shortage of smaller clubs, cafes, art galleries, and multi-use theatres hosting independent music.

Here are my picks for the top live music and concert venues in Hamilton.

FirstOntario Centre
Originally Copps Coliseum, the 19,000 capacity concert-sports-multi use venue was renamed FirstOntario Centre in 2013. Since opening November 1985, Rush, The Who, Britney Spears, Areosmith, Elton John, U2, and the Grateful dead have all played there. Bruce Springsteen, and Shania Twain hold the highest attendance concerts at just under full capacity.

Hamilton Place Theatre
A mid-sized performing arts centre, Hamilton Place (once the Ronald V. Joyce Centre for the Performing Arts) has been the home of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra for 42 years. It has concert rooms in the main auditorium and small studio theatre. Opera, Broadway theatre and major names Leonard Cohen, Gordon Lightfoot, Anne Murray, and CĂŠline Dion have all performed there.

The Baltimore House
Victorian-Gothic Edgar Allan Poe inspired, the Baltimore House is a unique mix of cafe-music venue. Daytime patrons sip coffee, read, and enjoy sandwiches. Nighttime goers experience everything from Supercrawl Nights to open mic to DJs to live bands.

The Casbah
Regarded as a Hamilton staple for presenting both emerging and established independent artists, the Cashbah has been around since January 2001. They've featured names like the Pixies, the Constantines, and Wanda Jackson. The small lounge room has been sold, but the 350 capacity main hall remains rocking.

Club Absinthe
When Club Absinthe moved from King St. E. to King William St./Hughson St. in 2011, they also transplanted their wildly popular Motown Wednesdays. DJs spin yesterdays hits on the main floor dance hall with no cover charge. An eclectic mix of live bands feature on select other nights of the week.

Mills Hardware
The 147 capacity community and concert used venue is fully licensed, and has high end sound, lighting, and a HD projector/screen. Concerts there include names The Beaches, The Wilderness of Manitoba, Elliott Brood, and Devin Cuddy.

This Ain't Hollywood
Hamilton bar This Ain't Hollywood brings Metal Mondays, an anything goes open mic Tuesday, and punk, honky tonk, and good ol' rock 'n roll just about every other night of the week. B.A. Johnston, the Trews, and the Ketamines have all played there.

Homegrown Hamilton
Located at 27 King William St., Homegrown Hamilton leans towards "local flavour and local talent." The cafe-restaurant maintains vegan, gluten-free, organic, and fair-trade food and drink options. Thursdays is their open jam with Dave Gould (on kit). Other nights feature everything from singer-songwriter to rock, swing, Celtic, and spoken word.

The Pearl Company
Operated by Gary Santucci and Barbara Milne, The Pearl Company is a multi-arts performance venue. The second floor renovated concert hall has excellent acoustics, hardwood flooring, and back row raised couches for the audience.

The Corktown Pub
Former Toronto stockbroker, Jim Perdikoulias, purchased the 83 year old Corktown Pub in June 2013. Under the new management the pub has a new menu, new staff, new beers on tap. Live music continues with an Irish Jam (Tuesday), Blues (Wednesday), and weekend local and international touring acts.

What did I miss? Add your suggestions for music venues in Hamilton in the comments.

Photos via the Club Absinthe Facebook page

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