Loud rock bands are finding new places to play

A pizza parlour and a boxing club are among venues for DIY bands

4 min read
A band performs inside a pizza restaurant.
caption Pavel Stroke performed at Revana Pizza in October 2023.

Revana Pizza in Bible Hill is a regular pizza parlour by day. But every month, it’s invaded by fans of loud rock music. 

Anthony Geddes of the band Vs has been hosting shows at Revana since September 2023.

He says finding venues that welcome his kind of music can be a challenge. Punk artists’ loud and rowdy performances are not always welcome, leaving them searching for places to play.

“It just leaves a lot of styles out. People want to see music that they’re into and they can’t go see it because there’s no venues,” he said.

The restaurant has perhaps become one of the province’s most unusual underground music venues.

During concerts, the organizers push tables and chairs out of the way and set up their equipment while the restaurant operates as usual. Customers can walk in to grab a slice, while a mosh pit of 50 to 60 people forms on the opposite end of the room. Because the venue is a licensed restaurant, the shows are open to all ages. Those over 19 can drink, grab some pizza, and catch a show. 

Geddes says the restaurant’s owner “never refuses the date. He usually allows me to do my thing.”

While many bands in the alternative venue scene identify as punk, the term DIY (Do It Yourself) is often attributed to these artists. DIY music encompasses dozens of genres. Among the most popular are alternative rock, punk, hardcore, shoegaze, indie, rap, hip-hop, and metal. 

Because the music is often loud and abrasive, it’s difficult to find venues that welcome the artists who create it. In Nova Scotia, most music venues are bars or restaurants where regular customers are often present. For niche forms of music like punk, this means many artists have to search for venues that will be OK with hosting them and risking possible damage to the building by a raucous crowd.

All ages shows at boxing club in New Glasgow

In New Glasgow, a similar scene to the one in Bible Hill is forming. Musician and concert promoter Pat Walsh has been running loud rock events under the Vertigo Show title. 

“Pictou County has an older demographic in a lot of ways and they they’re gearing more towards blues, rock and jazz,” said Walsh, with few people interested in= punk or metal. “It just doesn’t fit.”

As the booker for several venues in New Glasgow, Walsh had trouble finding a place to book loud bands.

“I was talking to my girlfriend and I was thinking, ‘What are we gonna do? I have all these bands, I love to see them play, I’d love to have a scene for them. I wish I could just open a venue, but you know, I can’t do that.

The first Vertigo Show concert took place at The Spot, a local pub in New Glasgow. For Walsh, the event was a success.

“It became like this little artist hub. Photographers were there, visual artists were there, the music lovers were there,” he said.

A performer stares into the crowd while playing guitar on stage.
caption LeafGreen performing at the first Vertigo Show event.
Brad Boutilier

But after the first Vertigo Show, Walsh decided to take the project to Dukes Up boxing club and open the doors to all ages, much like the shows at Revana Pizza.

For Walsh, the venues is a natural fit with the audience — boxing and punk rock are similar interests for kids who are struggling.

“They take these kids in and they shape them. They give them a place or a sense of belonging and how to channel that energy in a healthy way,” he said.

The first Vertigo Show at Dukes Up will take place March 2, after being rescheduled due to a snow storm.

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About the author

Landon Morris

Landon Morris is a journalist from Cape Breton. He specializes in arts and entertainment with a focus on music journalism.

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