Music in Hamilton

Music in Hamilton Blog Series

The Power of Live Music: how it benefits you, musicians & the local music community

Written by Jamie Tennant

Band performing live

There are many different ways to experience music – earbuds, overpriced headphones stereos, car radios, dance clubs, basement parties, crappy turntables, shopping malls, and everything in-between. Each provides its own unique magic, to be sure. But there must be a reason people stand in the rain, travel hundreds of miles, or spend outrageous amounts of money on Stubhub in order to experience live music. It can’t just be, I don’t know, for the ‘gram or something.

What do we even mean by “live” music? And we’re not just talking dudes with guitars as hopefully the images that come to mind are more diverse. All it really means is a live performance – in some fashion, the entertainer is creating the music in front of an audience. Could be a 45-piece orchestra, an emcee rapping over a recording – both count.

Performers on stage

There’s an intangible energy involved when something is created live. There’s a tension between the artist and the audience, a push and pull of energy, almost a symbiosis, to get a touch pretentious about it. One feeds the other. It’s not replicable in a situation where you experience the art alone. You need the artist there. What’s more tangible, though, is the power – the power that comes from the energy on stage, from the swell of reaction from a group of people, from sheer bloody volume. When bass thumps in your chest like a shock wave against your sternum, and you can feel the passion from the stage, and everyone around you responds…that’s the magic right there.

There are more practical reasons to see live music too – and that’s to support live music. You want to feel like you’re doing some good in the world, giving back to the artist. The artist isn’t selling CDs and is getting one hundred thousandth of a cent on Spotify. Your ticket order/cover charge/T-shirt purchase makes a difference to whether or not they can devote more time to making the music you love. If you’re seeing a local artist, you’re supporting an entire community. Dropping ten bucks to see someone from Hamilton means you’re simultaneously supporting musicians, bar owners, bartenders, sound people, poster makers, studios, guitar makers, etc. You’re really helping a community 

What do you get out of it? A good time. A rush of endorphins and a better sense of well-being.  Being a body in a live room gives you a sense of community, a communion with other people that listening on earbuds can’t give you. Room to dance like there’s no one watching, because they probably aren’t.

They’re too busy enjoying the experience themselves.

If you’re looking for live music, there’s plenty to be had in this city – so get out there and see something. You won’t regret it

woman performing live music on a stage


Jamie Tennant is a Writer, radio guy, host of GET LIT, pop culture enthusiast, and author of The Capitan of Kinnoull Hill . If you’re on social you can follow @jtennant1020

Written by Biljana Njegovan

As Hamiltonians, we are very lucky to live in a city that is full of so much high quality music. Sure, you can listen to any number of excellent Hamilton artists in the comfort of your own home, but where Hamilton really shines is in the world of live music. From clubs to parks - you can leave your home on almost any given night and stumble across great live music being performed all over the city. Let’s take a look at the various live music experiences available in Hamilton.

Venues & Festivals

We begin with your classic nightclub style music venue. For a population of our size, we have a decent number of well-run music venues with great sound systems and owners and staff who care about the local music scene. These places are the backbone and steady drum of the local music scene. The Casbah, This Ain’t Hollywood, Club Absinthe, The Corktown Pub, First Ontario Concert Hall, Theatre Aquarius, The Zoetic, Artword Artbar, HAVN, Sousbas, Club 77, Zylas, Stonewall Bar and Grill, Doors: Taco Joint and Metal Bar, Mills Hardware.

Festival goers sitting on grass.

Festivals are a great option for seeing a variety of music in one spot. As we enter the full swing of the summer season there are many opportunities for the whole family to enjoy some great live music all over the city. It’s Your Festival, Ancaster Fair, Locke Street Festival, Supercrawl, Winona Peach Festival, Hamilton Latino Festival, Festival of Friends, Strangewaves Festival, Dundas Cactus Festival.

Unexpected Places & Spaces

The real magic happens when you stumble across live music in places where it doesn’t normally happen. That is what takes us from a city with some live music venues and festivals to something else entirely. You can see:

Artist performing in a small venue

Artist performing on fire escape

There are more places than this, but this list should give you a good idea about the range of live musical offerings at your disposal. Did I miss your favourite? Share yours on twitter with #HamOntMusic.


Biljana Njegovan is an award winning blogger and a passionate Hamiltonian who has been writing about this city for over a decade. If you’re on social you can follow @biljana3000