- North America
- Danielle Subject
From buzzing bistros and venues to tucked away local secrets, these 10 live music spots cultivate Guelph’s prominent and thriving music scene. In a tight-knit city known for its passion and support for local artists, there are a variety of options available for even the most particular music fan.
Van Gogh’s Ear
Situated on the corner of Wyndham and Macdonell, Van Gogh’s Ear is a restaurant by day and a live music hub by night. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, Van Gogh’s is a goldmine for live music entertainment, with three floors and three different stages. The second and third floors are now called DSTRCT and DSTRCT Lounge, while Van Gogh’s first floor stage hosts music from folk to funk to punk and everything in-between. Previous and reoccurring acts include Guelph’s Tear Away Tusa and The Medicine Hat, while outside performers have included Die Mannequin and the Fast Romantics.
Van Gogh’s Ear, 10 Wyndham St N, Guelph, ON, Canada, +1 519 821 9864
DSTRCT & DSTRCT Lounge
Located on the second floor of Van Gogh’s Ear, DSTRCT is currently one of Guelph’s most popular live music venues. Working closely with Gain Music, this venue plays a large role in fostering local Canadian talent. With an atmosphere of beer, grunge, and leather jackets, DSTRCT is a popular spot for punk and metal shows, crazy mosh pits, and an all-around good time. Also located one floor above DSTRCT is DSTRCT Lounge, which hosts nights of hip hop, reggae, dancehall, EDM, and house music.
DSTRCT & DSTRCT Lounge, 10 Wyndham St N, Guelph, ON, Canada, +1 519 821 9864
The eBar is probably one of the most versatile venues in Guelph. Branching off from the Bookshelf, this venue is nestled between a cinema, a bookstore, and a restaurant – what more do you need on Friday night? Another key player in supporting Canadian music, the eBar has hosted a number of Canadian acts. Past guests include The Elwins, Lowlands, Alanna Gurr, Matt Monoogian, Jeremy Fisher, and the Junior Boys, to name a few. The eBar is also an ongoing host of the Guelph Poetry Slam, which is definitely worth checking out.
The eBar, 41 Quebec Street, Guelph, ON, Canada, +1 519 821 3311
Silence is a one-of-a-kind musical space that opened its doors to Guelph almost two years ago. Half-hidden in a quiet suburban neighbourhood, Silence’s exterior is sprinkled with bright colors and stunning graffiti art. A section of the floor serves as the stage, making for an intimate experience between performer and audience. For those with eclectic musical tastes, Silence tends to attract experimental and non-traditional artists and performers. With a pay-what-you-can attitude, this is a welcoming space that was brought to life by Guelph’s generous art community.
Silence, 46 Essex St, Guelph, ON, Canada
Recently separated from its Vinyl counterpart after its closing, Jimmy Jazz is located in the heart of downtown Guelph and is deeply rooted in Guelph’s music scene. This venue has played a significant role in supporting new and upcoming Canadian musicians from coast to coast. Jimmy Jazz is also known for offering free admission. The venue’s stage is tucked away near the entrance, and the atmosphere is small and inviting with a strong communal sense. This bar is also totally casual, making for a nice last-minute stop to catch up with friends.
Jimmy Jazz, 52 Macdonell St, Guelph, ON, Canada, +1 519 767 1694
Manhattans is one of Guelph’s hidden treasures because it’s not part of the city’s downtown core. Situated in the south end, this music club and pizza bistro hosts live entertainment almost every day, with a range of styles and genres. Along with providing a wide variety of music from jazz quartets and funk to classical, Manhattans also presents stand-up comedy shows and art showcases. Elegantly decorated with a large and warmly lit atmosphere, Manhattans encourages a casual dress code regardless of its more sophisticated feel. Manhattans tends to fill up quickly over the weekend, so be sure to book reservations beforehand.
Manhattans, 951 Gordon St, Guelph, ON, Canada, +1 519 767 2440
Located close to Stone Road Mall, Fionn MacCool’s is great for the beer and live music lover. With a diverse entertainment calendar, Fionn’s is an active supporter of local music in Guelph. Open early and running late into the night, Fionn’s casual atmosphere and excellent beer and food options makes for a great local space at any time of the day, and their booker has excellent taste in fun cover bands, such as The British Invasion. Live music at Fionn MacCool’s runs every Friday and Saturday night.
Fionn MacCool’s, 494 Edinburgh Rd S, Guelph, ON, Canada, +1 519 766 4242
Doogie’s & Pablo’s
For a good time with good friends, Doogie’s is a solid option. With a pool and game room next door via Pablo’s, Doogie’s is great for an impromptu stop after a night out. This bar and venue takes pride in running live music at least four days a week, from cover bands to local bands and open mic nights. Don’t let its grungy, hole-in-the-wall vibes deceive you – it’s the people here that make the atmosphere great. With graffiti-decorated walls, the space between the stage and the crowd is very intimate and inviting, and its overall casual attitude makes for a fun and entertaining night out.
Doogie’s & Pablo’s, 37 Wyndham St N, Guelph, ON, Canada, +1 519 823 9993
The Cornerstone is a very relaxed space that offers live music both during the day and at night. Great for vegans and vegetarians, The Cornerstone is a café that offers a small but steady menu, with a great selection of beer from local breweries. Live music is often acoustic and features talented artists from anywhere in the GTA. If you’re looking for a place to enjoy some relaxing entertainment on a calm Sunday night or Wednesday afternoon, The Cornerstone is your place.
The Cornerstone, 1 Wyndham Street N, Guelph, ON, Canada, +1 519 827 0145
Located on campus at the University of Guelph, the Brass Taps is the campus’ main bar that also serves as a live music venue. Past acts have included The Sheepdogs, Hollerado, and Terra Lightfoot, among others. The Brass Taps is also located above Peter Clark Hall, which is a room in the basement of the University Centre that sometimes transforms into a concert hall and has hosted acts like Ill Scarlet, The Arkells, Tokyo Police Club, and Said the Whale. What does Peter Clark Hall have to do with anything? Aside from hosting most of their concert events, Brass Taps is usually the place that those popular acts grab a beer before and after shows.
Brass Taps, 50 Stone Rd E, Guelph, ON, Canada, +1 519 824 4120 Ext. 53904