Need something to do this weekend? Here are five jam spaces where you can rock out to your heart's content.
Sanctuary Studios, 1259 Frances Street
You’re not a musician? Fuck it, come to Sanctuary anyway; the place is a museum. Founded by a movie-industry horrorhead, Sanctuary’s labyrinthine warren of scarlet and black hallways are packed—and we mean packed—with nightmarish memorabilia, from full suits of armour to a life-size replica of Regan from The Exorcist and, on some nights, local drummer Zippy Pinhead. If your favourite movie isn’t referenced somewhere in Sanctuary, you’re not looking hard enough. A big screen in the common room is usually playing Halloween or some other ’80s classic. The KISS bathroom reminds you that you’re supposed to be making music in one of Sanctuary’s dozen or so rooms, each stocked with drums, amps, and a PA. Snacks and drinks also available at low, low prices.
Pandora’s Box Rehearsal Studios, 1890 Pandora Street
Your classiest option on the East Side is tucked inconspicuously in the industrial zone just north of Hastings Street. Inside, Pandora’s Box is a spotless and impressively organized hive offering superior acoustics and the general sense that you should treat your music career with a little respect. At $20/hour, each room is supplied with PA, drums, full bass rig, and cab—but you can upgrade from Pandora’s growing stock of gear, including keyboards and guitars. For an extra $10 you can get the Big Room, which is worth it for the parquet flooring alone.
SoundHouse Studios, 33 West 8th Avenue
At $23 an hour, this classy joint exudes professionalism and offers well-appointed rooms with nice rugs (it’s the details that count!) and cute names like “Fillmore” and “Troubadour” (but no “Altamont”, weirdly). Drum and PA supplied, everything else you need is available for rent. SoundHouse also offers recording services in any of its rooms, including its vast mezzanine, with no less than producer (and Swank drummer) Kirk Douglas twiddling the knobs. Best of all, depending on your vices: you’re only about 50 feet away from the 33 Acres Brewing Company.
Suna Studios, 1385 Odlum Drive
“It’s friendly, there’s no mould, and we have toilet paper,” explains owner Rob Thomas in this helpful video introduction to East Van’s Suna Studios. A stone’s throw from Sanctuary (if you have a really good arm) and an even shorter distance from the classic jam-space vibe familiar to those of us who didn’t spend the grunge years in a diaper, Suna—which is anus spelled backward—further offers the best deal in the city, at $15/ hour, drums, PA, guitar and bass cabs included. More gear is available for rent, because you’re not competing these days without it—something you’d know if you hadn’t spent the grunge years in a diaper.
Vancouver Rockspace, 201 West 7th Avenue
Four rooms, easy load-in, good price ($21.50/hour), great location… but the hook with Vancouver Rockspace, of course, lies in its historic vibrations. This is where AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe and a seemingly endless roster of international clients came to make their platinum records back when it was Studio A of the legendary Little Mountain Sound Studios. The force is so strong in this location that people still go around thinking Lars Ulrich is a real drummer!