Downtown Kelowna is blessed with a plethora of awesome live music venues. For example, there are rooms like Fernando’s where you might not know the band on the bill, but you know the music will be of particular quality.
Indeed, if you’re reading this looking for somewhere to take in a gig, Fernando’s is a great place to start. However, Fernando’s is not downtown Kelowna’s only go-to music spot, there are several others, and during BreakOut West 2018, you’ll have the opportunity to take in music at many of them (as well as a few extras, too).
BreakOut West is Western Canada’s largest music industry event and it is happening in Kelowna from October 10 to 14 this year. Festivities include a four-day industry conference, and 60+ bands showcasing at downtown Kelowna locations as part of a three-day music festival. Wristbands for the festival portion of BreakOut West are just $15 per person and can be purchased here and at the Kelowna Visitor Centre.
At BreakOut West, you’ll be able to enjoy a diverse mix of artists performing at the following downtown Kelowna locations:
BNA is more of an occasional Kelowna live music venue in that they don’t have a regular schedule of shows. However, at BreakOut West you’ll be able to enjoy the likes of Shred Kelly, Yes We Mystic, Nuela Charles, The Grapes of Wrath, and others at BNA. Fun fact: BNA is the only venue on this list that you can also bowl at. I highly recommend trying the Earl Pale Ale.
Doc Willoughby’s is one of Kelowna’s established live music venues. The downtown pub, which also has a $7 food menu, regularly has an assortment of bands performing on its stage. At BreakOut West, you can enjoy Whale and the Wolf, The Mariachi Ghost and several others.
As mentioned, Fernando’s is one of downtown’s go-to music destinations. During BreakOut West, you can enjoy Jesse and the Dandelions, Okanagan local - Andrew Judah, The Velveteins, and many others at the only Mexican-themed establishment on this list.
Milkcrate Records is much more than a record store. Through the work of the owner, Richard Rafton, and his team, Milkcrate is becoming a downtown Kelowna cultural hub, where you’ll hear poetry readings alongside gigs. At BreakOut West, you can catch Local Boy, T-Rhyme, Towers and Trees, and others at the only record store on this list.
See Towers and Trees perform at Milkcrate Records during BreakOut West 2018:
Muninn’s Post has been a neat addition to the downtown Kelowna scene. To my knowledge, it is Kelowna’s only Viking feast hall. Since Muninn’s Post opened its doors, the owners have been committed to utilizing the space for performances, including everything from stand-up comedy to live music. At BreakOut West, you can enjoy Leisure Club, FOONYAP, Too Soon Monsoon, and many others at this venue.
In terms of size, the Grateful Fed is one of the smallest venues on this list, but it is a stalwart of the Kelowna music scene. This cozy little venue packs a big punch. At BreakOut West, you can catch Ellen Doty, Mariel Buckley, Digawolf, and several others.
The work of Dylan and Liz Ranney, New Arts Collective is a contemporary art collective right in the heart of downtown Kelowna. Here, you’ll find 14 professional resident artists. There’s not a consistent schedule of music at the NAC, although Dylan, Liz, and the other artists do a great job of activating the space with various performances, including music. At BreakOut West, Gunner and Smith, and Kelowna locals, Tiger Moon, and Ben Klick, will be performing, among several others.
DOJA Culture Cafe - 274 Bernard Ave.
Serving delicious Canoe Coffee, DOJA is a downtown Kelowna cultural cafe. It isn’t known as a music venue, but it is a great little coffee shop. DOJA is also a licensed Cannabis producer, making it unique on this list. Located close to the water, you can enjoy Luca Fogale, High Love, PIMPTON, and many others at DOJA during BreakOut West 2018.
A relatively new addition to downtown Kelowna, Craft has become a local hotspot. With 100 craft beers on the menu, there’s already a lot to enjoy at Craft, although live music isn’t typically on the agenda. However, during BreakOut West 2018, you can experience performances from Sarah Jane Scouten, Chris Buck Band, Like a Motorcycle, and several others.
Sarah Jane Scouten is performing at Craft during BreakOut West 2018:
Sapphire is a downtown Kelowna nightclub. It’s a venue where you’ll typically catch DJs and hip-hop. However, during BreakOut West, you can enjoy the likes of The Jerry Cans and Delhi 2 Dublin alongside Hello Moth, viisi, and others.
Downtown Kelowna’s largest theatre. The Kelowna Community Theatre plays host to a wide variety of events from ballet, comedy shows, concerts, and more. You can catch Like A Motorcycle, Little Destroyer, and The Wild! at this iconic downtown venue for the BreakOut West Kick-Off Concert.
Not a typical Kelowna music venue, but then again, BreakOut West is no typical event. During BreakOut West, take a trip to the lobby of the Grand and you can enjoy music from Calla Kinglit, Quantum Tangle, Micah Erenberg, and a host of others. The hotel’s restaurant, OAK + CRU, is also a great spot for dinner and a glass of wine.
You’ll find the Rotary Centre for the Arts right in the heart of downtown Kelowna’s increasingly funky cultural district. The arts centre plays host to concerts, fundraisers, forums, theatre, and much more. It’s a key feature in Kelowna’s cultural landscape. During BreakOut West 2018, Kelowna locals, The Oot n’ Oots, will be performing with The Springmans, Jessie Farrell, and others as a part of the family-friendly Mini BreakOut West.
Enjoy The Oot n’ Oots at BreakOut West 2018:
Events such as BreakOut West don’t come to Kelowna every year. In fact, the last time we hosted BOW was in 2010. In other words, you really don’t want to miss this! You can learn more about BreakOut West 2018 by visiting the official website here. The schedule for the music festival portion of BreakOut West can be found here.
For those interested, please note that the organizers are still actively recruiting volunteers for BreakOut West 2018. If you would like to volunteer, please visit this page on the BreakOut West website.
If you’re a local musician attending BreakOut West, you may be interested in this pre-BreakOut West primer, which will help you make the most of your experience at the music industry conference. It’s free and takes place on Saturday, September 29th at Sturgeon Hall Pub (1481 Water St.)
I look forward to seeing you at BreakOut West 2018!
Vincent Jones is a Bachelor of Arts graduate from UBC Okanagan and a passionate supporter of local and independent music. In the past, Vince was featured on 102.7 The PEAK in Vancouver, contributed to CBC Radio West and KelownaNow as a music columnist. He has hosted and contributed to indie music podcasts, and has booked, emceed and promoted numerous shows. He is the Co-Owner of Kelowna marketing and branding agency, By Jove Co.