Editor’s Note – If you live in Saskatoon then this article is likely not going to be of much use to you, unless you recently moved here. This article is meant as a reference to our touring band friends and to those dudes who keep emailing us to ask if we can put on a show for them. Nope, we can’t, but here are some people who can maybe help you out. Also, whenever we make a list like this we always forget something, so cut us some slack, eh.
Odds are good that if you like bands, or food, you like Amigos. Located off Broadway, Amigos typically is a hub of activity on any given weekend, with everything from hip-hop to punk to indie appearing on stage. In fact, the venue is pretty much legendary – didn’t Neko Case, backed by The Sadies no less, once jump off stage to beat the crap out of some guy in the audience? Amigos rules.
Address: 632 10th Street East, Saskatoon, SK.
Having taken over the same downtown-area basement where several other clubs, including the recently defunct Walkers, were located, Lepps has pretty much kept up the same sort of mandate and décor as the previous venues. Not exactly the kind of place you’d want to take a date – unless you are into people who are into dank pits that are decorated with endless photos of Phil Anselmo that were cut out of magazines.
Address: 255 3rd Ave. S., Saskatoon, SK.
Despite keeping a weekly schedule of open-stage nights and poetry slams, Lydia’s Pub tends to book a fairly eclectic collection of live acts. While their free burger with a beer deal is sorely missed by local freeloading boozehounds, this is still likely the best bet as the place to go dancing without getting mauled by under-sexed alcoholics.
Address: 650 Broadway Avenue Saskatoon, SK.
Attendance on any given night is a bit of a toss-up, but the Fez, thankfully, is offering more than just your average, run-of-the-mill rock tribute acts nowadays – the Tuesday night karaoke seems to be finally taking off. The open mic nights are decent, and if you are a band full of dudes who totally wail on the guitar your chances of getting booked are good.
Address: 834B Broadway Ave, Saskatoon, SK.
Vangelis used to be your best bet for a quiet beer on Broadway when the Yard was too packed and Amigos was too expensive/closed. Those days are long gone, as Vangelis now hosts a wild variety of indie shows as well as a weekly trivia night. Kind of a bummer that they don’t put ice in the urinals anymore though.
Address: 801 Broadway Avenue Saskatoon, SK.
Buds on Broadway
Buds is a great place to rock out to live music, especially if you have one of the following: motorcycle, tattoos, leather jacket, no-bullshit attitude. Bonus: on the weekends there is a guy selling hot dogs out front.
Address: 817 Broadway Avenue Saskatoon, SK.
Saskatoon’s on-campus venue, Louis’ has recently undergone some ch-ch-ch-changes that got rid of that awkward box thing that took up a serious chunk of the dance floor. Now it feels more like an appropriate rock club, so good job people. The shows are fairly sporadic though, especially in the summertime. Plus it’s a little weird that the club completely clears out at 12:30 AM when the bands are done, but some of us old balls like that sort of thing – more after-party for us.
Address: 103 Memorial Union Building 93 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK.
I’ve always heard a lot of people complain about this place, but the Odeon remains a good place to see bigger bands. The sound is typically good and the upstairs balcony is fun (when they open it anyway). Nevertheless, while they host lots of the bigger acts that come in – anyone else catch Snoop Dogg/Lion – being served any kind of beverage in a plastic cup is my personal idea of hell.
Address: 241 2 Avenue South Saskatoon, SK.
Back in its heyday, The Bassment was famous for being an easily-accessible, licensed/all-ages venue that hosted every punk, hardcore and indie band imaginable. Tellingly, this meant that anyone could come in and book one of the endless terrible groups that continually roam the countryside. Nowadays, located in the old post office building across the street from City Hall, The Bassment is a classy joint with plenty of places to sit down and a good selection of top-shelf boozes. Gone are the punk bands, but you can still catch some interesting acts here in addition to the obvious jazz shows.
Address: 202 4th Avenue North, Saskatoon, SK.
The Sweat Lodge
Essentially a punk jam space, The Sweat Lodge puts on shows for groups who won’t fill a proper venue or when hardcore kids feel like watching bands but don’t want to pay retail booze prices. Also, this shit is a (quasi) secret so we ain’t gonna tell you where it is.
This place is essentially a high-rent abattoir.
Tequila typically hosts famous DJs and the scantily-clad people that love them.
It’s worth noting that Beaumont Records has started regularly promoting in-store shows. Similarly, Village Guitar, Beaumont’s retail neighbours, also hosts the occasional function. Both the Vinyl Exchange and Vinyl Diner have also had in-store shows as well, but I doubt they are actively looking to make this a regular thing.
Other places that have been booked out in the past are the Cosmo Senior’s Centre off Broadway and the Sutherland Memorial Hall on Central. These are probably your best bets for all ages hall shows in Saskatoon. Le Relais is also known to book out for these types of shows. Also, Maguires used to have some sort of hall you could rent – I remember seeing the likes of the Junior Pantherz and DFA here. Not too sure if they do that sort of thing anymore. I’ve never seen anyone play here, but Somewhere Else Pub has a stage and some mics. I also remember Mystic Java letting people play, albeit quietly. The Yard and Flagon used to have an open-mic thing too, but that seems to be long gone. I remember Yellowcard once played at The Pat downtown – they would. And I wish 302 would book more shows, because combining live music with stripper poles is a guaranteed winner. And that restaurant in McNally Robinson sometimes lets goons with acoustic guitars in to do their thing.
But in the end, nothing beats a good house party show.