There’s a new addition to Granville Street’s bar scene – and it just might be the best venue for live music in Vancouver.
Last month, with very little fanfare, Fanclub opened at Granville and Nelson. Even from the outside, you can tell there’s something special going on. In the style of the New Orleans clubs its modeled after, Fanclub is essentially open to the street: large French colonial doors open up to let the sounds of the party going on inside lure passsersby on the sidewalk outside.
Inside, the club is gorgeous – an unexpectedly high-end music venue on the gritty end of the Granville Street drag. In traditional music hall fashion, it’s an open design, with a soaring 30-foot ceiling and an upper balcony area where you can look down at all the action below.
Down on the main level, there’s a big, horseshoe-shaped bar on one side of the room and a large stage on the other. The interior is all dark wood, accented by rainbow coloured lighting, which I guess lends a New Orleans Mardi Gras type feel. There’s also an intimate cocktail bar tucked away in a wood-paneled backroom, when the music gets too loud.
Which brings us to Fanclub’s raison d’être – the music. First off, the sound system is stupendous. Anyone tired of listening to blaring, distorted sound at so many other Vancouver venues will be in seventh Heaven here. The building itself, apparently, was designed with acoustics in mind – and it shows.
Then there’s the stage area itself – which is leaps and bounds beyond other local clubs. It’s a large, elevated area off in one corner, with tasteful lighting and even a dedicated Hammond organ. The stage is so cool, in fact, that it shoots fog out of its base. Most importantly, however, it gives everyone in the house a great view of the show and the sound, as mentioned, is top notch (Maybe this shouldn’t be a surprise: Fanclub is run by the owners of the Yale, which was another music-forward venue).
Another big perk: There’s live music nightly and generally before 9 p.m. there’s no cover charge. Emphasis is on good-old guitar-based blues and rock (a live genre that’s surprisingly hard to find in Vancouver these days). I checked things out over the weekend when the house band, Incognito, was rocking out. Considering it was a free show, I definitely got my money’s worth.
In another rarity for Vancouver, the crowd inside the Fanclub is not just 19-25 year olds out to get hammered on Granville Street. It attracts a much more diverse and discerning audience of music lovers from the city and beyond (I even spotted local vocal legend Sibel Thrasher in the crowd on Saturday). And the vibe is friendly and welcoming – a far cry from other clubs where snooty servers and bartenders couldn’t be bothered.
Fanclub just opened last month, so only time will tell if it continues to live up to the high bar it has set. But so far, there are only good things to say. Even the menu is a pleasant surprise – house-made barbecue, pulled pork, po’ boys and burgers, most for under $10, plus a big selection of craft beer from B.C. and beyond on tap.
Anyone else been to Fanclub? What do you think of the place?
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