Photo cred - L'Escalier
Listening to music shouldn't cost you anything unless you're going to the Bell Centre, am I right? Paying cover for a band you've never heard of just isn't cool, and the following bars know its true. Each and every one of these bars/venues cater to all of us who want to check out some new tunes without spending a lot of money, or better yet, none at all. Read on and listen up.
552 Ste. Catherine
You'll find an incredibly diverse selection of regular performances at L'Escalier, all of which are free, as is the reservable space which you can book for just about anything. An added perk of seeing a show at L'Escalier is the vegetarian cooking always offered, with daily special and desserts, 'cuz you can't enjoy a free show without some deliciously healthy eats.
Craft beer and free music? Really, there's not much else you need in the world. Every day has a different musical performance, though the vibe differs per day. Tuesday and Wednesday performances tend to be on the quieter side, with things ramping up as the week goes on, with full bands playing on the weekend. Be sure to check out Brutopia on the first weekend of every month when local music legend Shane Murphy plays, you won't be dissapointed.
Le P'tit bar
3451 St. Denis
Don't be fooled by the name, because Le P'tit bar is big on free music. You can catch one of the many regular performers from Sunday to Thursday nights at 9pm, or a featured performer on Fridays and Saturday nights at 9:30pm, with acts featuring covers or original songs. Expect a low-key lounge vibe rather than bands rocking out. You can also catch some special 5@7 events, which tend to be a bit different from the regular set lists, including vernisages.
Le Depanneur Café
What makes this amazing independantly-owned Mile End cafe extra special is how they offer microphones and a piano to anyone who wants to play. Just head to the website (or sign up in person) and you can be added to the daily set list. Since almost anybody can perform, the music style tends to vary considerably, though every act I've seen (quite a bit, I live right next to it) has been quite good.
Hurley's Irish Pub
Sipping on a pint at Hurley's is made extra enjoyably for their regularly offered live music performances, which includes two different floors. You'll find someone playing on at least one floor every night, with Solstice, a Montreal Irish-Quebecois folk band being the most prolific act.
6584 St. Laurent
Quaint, small, but incredibly fun and affordable, Bar Populaire is a popular spot for all of those reasons, and for its no cover performances. Comedy nights and artist features are hosted at BP weekly, but Saturday is the time for tunes, with two musical acts performing each night.
Photo cred - McKibbin's
McKibbin's Irish Pub
1426 Bishop + 3515 St. Laurent + 6361 Trans-Canada Hwy
Throughout Montreal, each and every McKibbin's as a musical act and event nearly every night of the week. The tunes tend to be on the more modern side of things, with bands and solo acts performing in equal amounts. The link below will send you straight to a handy calendar that breaks down the many performances by day, with locations given.
Bistro à Jojo
1627 St. Denis
If you need more blues in your life, and really, we all do, then head over to Bistro à Jojo, where free music is on the daily. Unwind after work/school at Jojo's free 5@9 acoustic shows, with a different artist performing every day, and feel free to stick around for the other acts that go on later on in the evening. Check out the cover photo of the bar's Facebook page (link below) for a rundown of this month's 5@9 performers.
Bar de Courcelle
4685 Notre-Dame W
Go for the beer and pub food, stay for the music. That's pretty much what will happen to you at Bar de Courcelle in St. Henri, which has become semi-famous for its diverse, and always amazing, musical choices. The same goes for their featured performers, with a few happening each week. Be sure to check out their Facebook page (below) for a rundown of acts and parties going on at the bar.
3255 St Jacques
More than just one of the city's best vinyl shops, BBAM! also hosts a hot mix of diffeerent types of performances all the time. Different acts dominate the space every month, with genres ranging from experimental folk, to jazz, to DJ sets. Scroll down on the website (link below) to see who is playing in the coming months.
1944 St. Catherine
More than just a student bar with incredibly cheap beer, Cock n' Bull also boasts live musical acts every single night of the week. Catch their regular performers from Sunday to Thursday and head over on Fridays and Saturdays to see some featured bands. Jam nights are on Wednesdays for anyone looking to rock out a bit on hump day, which can win you your very one booking at the bar.