10 great places to see indie bands in Montréal

Jamie O'Meara

Jamie O'Meara was the Editor-in-Chief at C2 Montréal and the former Editor-in-Chief of alt-weekly newspaper HOUR Magazine.

This article was updated on November 17, 2023.

Internationally acclaimed, Montréal indie music artists like Arcade Fire, Grimes, Patrick Watson, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Half Moon Run all had to start out somewhere. Montréal has a veritable treasure of venues catering to the city’s thriving independent music scene. The following are, in no particular order, 10 of the many great places to see indie bands in Montréal.

A room with a view

La Sala Rossa With its Spanish-community-hall-meets-high-school-prom-type vibe, Sala Rossa is without a doubt unique. And also without a doubt, one of the best, and most beloved, indie venues in the city. The high stage affords good sightlines, the back bar keeps the focus on the action up front and anyone of note in Montréal’s music scene (and beyond) will have graced its stage at least once.

For the people

Casa Del Popolo Directly across the street from sister venue Sala Rossa, Casa Del Popolo (founded by Godspeed You! Black Emperor bassist Mauro Pezzente and wife Kiva Stimac) was where Arcade Fire first started drafting their army of fans. From incendiary indie to adventurous experimental, Casa is a gold mine when it comes to music exploration. A cozy café/bar side complements the always-busy showroom, and the leafy rear terrasse is a summer night’s dream.

Punks don’t bend, they ascend

Bar Le Ritz P.D.B. Albeit slightly off the beaten path a short bus ride up Saint-Laurent Boulevard, Bar Le Ritz P.D.B. (the acronym P.D.B. standing for Punks Don’t Bend) is a go-to favourite with local indie music fans, with acts spanning rock, folk, hip-hop, electro, you name it. Le Ritz has a solid track record of catching artists who are on the ascent, an “I saw them when…” kind of place (and they’re also known for their bangin’ themed dance parties). Notably, it’s also wheelchair accessible.

A two-for-one independent music mecca

Café Campus/Petit Campus Cooperative run, the two-room Café Campus (600 capacity) and Petit Campus (300 capacity) complex is a Montréal live show institution founded in 1967 and situated on the pedestrian-only Prince Arthur Street stretch of restaurants and outdoor terrasses. The two-tier big room affords concertgoers excellent proximity to some of the biggest/up-and-coming names in music (Queens of the Stone Age, Tame Impala and Foster The People are among the many who have cut their musical teeth there), while the smaller downstairs room can make even less populous gatherings feel like a party.

A sight(line) for sore eyes

Théâtre Fairmount For many years known as Club Soda, the 450-capacity Fairmount Theatre in the Mile End district has a state-of-the-art sound system and arguably the best sightlines in the city courtesy of a protruding stage that offers audience access on three sides. It made seeing artists like Oasis, Rufus Wainwright and New Order there utterly unforgettable.

Loud and proud

L’Escogriffe What the brick-walled, basement show bar lacks in size it more than makes up in attitude, with a lively list of bands that have laid waste to the place (earplugs are almost always a must here). It takes virtually no effort to fire up a party at L’Esco, as it is fondly known, and its Saint-Denis Street terrasse is primo people watching real estate.

A right-brain kind of place

Bar L'Hémisphère Gauche Boasting what is unquestionably one of the most interesting stages/dance floors in the city, the intimate L'Hémisphère Gauche, in Montréal’s Little Italy neighbourhood, is one of the best places in the city to catch emerging bands. And a particular treat for audiences is the recessed dance floor, which has a kind of miniature coliseum (or perhaps cage match) feel with excellent vantage points both above and below.

Take it to the next level

O Patro Vys Situated directly atop the very popular Plateau-Mont-Royal bar Bily Kun, and run by the same folks, the multi-purpose O Patro Vys (Czech for “The next level”) space is designed specifically for small-scale indie acts and artists and has thus become a mainstay on the local scene. That it also benefits from Bily Kun’s brilliant beer selection doesn’t hurt either.


The O.H. (Original Hipster)

Quai des Brumes This intimate venue boasts shows of all stylistic stripes every night of the week. Though the “storefront” stage is postage-stamp-type small, it’s also high, affording clean views of performers. The room’s the charm though, with its warm wood panelling, molded roof and inviting stained glass lighting. The kind of place that’s easy to get into and hard to leave.

And last, though by no means least…


A good shock to the system

Les Foufounes Électriques (87 Ste. Catherine St. E.) Probably Montréal’s most famous and storied live concert venue, Foufounes Électriques (or, roughly translated, “The Electric Buttcheeks”) has played host to everyone from The Damned to Green Day, and from Smashing Pumpkins to Nirvana. Its industrial/punk architecture and décor is unparalleled in Montréal and it’s considered home by all walks and all ages.

Jamie O'Meara

Jamie O'Meara was the Editor-in-Chief at C2 Montréal and the former Editor-in-Chief of alt-weekly newspaper HOUR Magazine.

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