Photo: Mubashir Abbas Zaidi/Shutterstock

13 Best Spots in the Ottawa Music Scene

Ottawa Music + Nightlife Insider Guides
by Danica Bansie Mar 3, 2016

1. Mavericks

If you grew up in Ottawa listening to rock, metal, or ska you’ve undoubtedly spent a sweaty, bruise-inducing night at Mavericks. A ticket to a Mavs show is never expensive and with guests that have included Bam Margera, Frankie Muniz, and Tom Green it’s worth checking out.

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2. The Turning Point

Just off of Bank Street there is a semi-hidden, multi-floored Narnia that houses the dream finds of many record collectors. The Turning Point is packed with CDs and records, mostly used.

3. Ritual

Ritual is one of the best spots for fans of hip hop and indie rock. It’s a two-floored multipurpose venue, but the main draw are the live shows and DJ spot lights. Plus, when Questlove comes to Ottawa he spins at Ritual. If that doesn’t give a venue clout, nothing does.

4. Heart & Crown Byward Market

Pub-style restaurant by day, raucous party place by night, Heart and Crown is one of the most fun live cover band locations in Ottawa.

5. Vertigo Records

Vertigo Records is the record epicentre of Ottawa. Aside from being walking distance to the Market, Vertigo is the main location for buying tickets to local shows.

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6. Chateau Lafayette

The Laff’s soundtrack is fuelled by patrons choosing music on the jukebox. Classic rock is usually the sound of choice and it is not uncommon for a bar-wide sing-along to Bohemian Rhapsody to occur in between sips of one of Ottawa’s best Caesars.

7. The Odds & Sods Shoppe

The Shoppe offers up great memorabilia mixed in with new and used albums and classic treats. It’s the kind of place where the owners — who get to know you by name — will give you way better music and/or movie suggestions than Google.

8. The Rainbow

Though the heart of The Rainbow lies deep in the blues, you can be sure to catch some great acts ranging from solo acoustic sets to big band performances.

9. Cafe Dekcuf

Bigger name acts won’t be found here, but here is where Ottawa’s up-and-comers congregate. Usually a ticket costs no more than $5, and you can bet you will hear some of the best unknown music coming out of Ottawa.

10. Birdman Sound

The Bird isn’t concerned with stocking the shiny new releases, but rather unique curation.

11. RBC Ottawa Bluesfest

Bluesfest hits Lebreton Flats for a couple weeks mid July and brings all of Ottawa together. It is impossible not to find something or someone to get excited about at Bluesfest.

12. Babylon

Babylon not only staffs some of Ottawa’s coolest bartenders who all seem able to concoct delicious mystery drinks, but you won’t find better DJs in the city.

13. Zaphod Beeblebrox

A night out at Zaphods is a rite of passage for every 19+ Ottawa music lover. The sound that includes metal and hip hop nights, and dance-your-face-off Electric Ballroom Saturday nights is easy to crave during the rest of the week.

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