Guelph Concert Theatre
166 Wyndham St N, Guelph, ON
With the exception of DSTRCT, the Concert Theatre is the only place in Guelph whose primary function is to host live music. The Concert Theatre’s layout and 1000+ capacity and makes it comparable to Toronto’s Mod Club and Opera House: there is a stage at the front, a large floor (demarcated by a railing) in the middle, seating along the raised side area, and a suitably overpriced bar in the back. On the upper mezzanine, there is an additional bar to serve the large balcony that overlooks the stage (and which can be rented as a VIP area during shows).
The building was originally known as the Odeon Theatre, and operated as a small, two-screen cinema for over 50 years. In 1990, when large-scale cinemas took over the movie-going industry, the Odeon turned into a nightclub called Club Denim. After 24 years in business, the club shut down and the Guelph Concert Theatre, as we now know it, opened in 2014. Throughout all the changes of ownership and industry over the last seven decades, the original, trademark neon sign and marquee have remained the same, and can still be found above the building’s entrance today. The property is now recognized as a landmark site.
Many notable acts take their tours to the Guelph Concert Theatre, so this venue is the place to catch them between their larger and more expensive stadium shows. Well-known bands that have played at the Concert Theatre include Kim Mitchell, Big Wreck, Big Sugar, Finger Eleven, The Weeknd, Zeds Dead, The Sheepdogs, Billy Talent, Wintersleep, Monster Truck, Corb Lund, Headstones, Lights, Lamb of God, and Theory of a Deadman.
After seeing Mother Mother in February 2019, Hayley X was impressed that the Guelph Concert Theatre’s modest size allowed a great balance between intimacy and spectacle: she got the impression of a proper, high budget concert but with the benefit of an affordable and unpretentious atmosphere. A Facebook review posted by Amaar Nazarani states that the Guelph Concert Theatre is “one of the best places for live music,” and reports that “the sound was kept at high quality” (2019). However, there are some who have had different experiences. Andrew Seebach, also writing on Facebook, speaks of “terrible acoustics” (2019). What this conflict of opinion tells us is that if a band’s sound engineer knows how to mix for a small venue, said band will be able to maximize the potential of the venue. If not, you might not get the most from their show.