Before it was The Pavilion, it was a swimming pool shed. Back then—the 1990s—Halifax was (arguably) at its musical apex, thanks to bands like Sloan and Thrush Hermit. People who wanted more all-ages, dry music shows took over the small building on the south Common, and built a scene along the way. From 1998 to 2014, it was a full-time venue, offering Halifax music fans—and especially those fans younger than legal drinking age—everything from scrappy punk shows to sweaty DJ sets. From 2014 to the pandemic, shows happened sporadically; during COVID the venue’s officially been on hiatus. But that hiatus suddenly became final.
Earlier this week, the Pavilion Youth Association packed up its boxes and amps, moving out of its decades-long home under an order from the city’s recreation department. The 2017 Halifax Common Master Plan meant the PYA knew it would have to ship out to make room for renovations at some point—and it turned out some point ended up being February 25, 2022. “This was out of nowhere to us as we had not received any communications about the approval of the master plan or plans to move forward,” the PYA tells The Coast in an email.
For now, PYA is housing its music equipment in storage as the building is turned into a temporary shelter for housing insecure Haligonians. (The Coast has a separate story with the shelter details.) The PYA’s plotting what its next steps will look like—including, perhaps, pop-up all-ages concerts in other spaces.
The one remaining dedicated all-ages live music venue in Halifax is RadStorm, located at nearby 2177 Gottingen Street. A DIY collective that’s been fundraising to buy its building since 2019 (and recently lost its upstairs tenant, Eyelevel Gallery, to the nearby arts hub The Blue Building) Radstorm will have its first show of 2022 on Saturday March 5 at 8pm: Montreal krautrocker Yoo Doo Right will shred the stage with bands Motherhood, Layia and DJ Gator Glove.
Between both venues, Halifax has maintained a handful of low-cost, sober shows per year. Now, with the Pavilion's latest closure, we're wondering what the future of all-ages music looks like in Halifax. Stay tuned as we dig into more.