Formerly a staple of Vancouver’s punk and metal scenes, the Cobalt received an overhaul in 2010 when it came under new management. While the venue still lives at the historic 900-block of Main Street, its lineup no longer attracts as much of the loud crowd. Instead, it balances live acts with dance nights, art events and more.
The Cobalt’s more recent bookings skew toward rock fans, with past guests that include Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, Diane Coffee and Iceage, as well as local and national bands such as the Pack A.D., Greys and Japandroids, the last of whom hosted a four-night comeback residency at the venue in 2016. The venue balances these live acts with a variety of DJ nights that feature everything from current hits to '50s and '60s rock'n’roll. Notably, the Cobalt also hosts a monthly drag and burlesque event called the Gay Agenda. With karaoke on Mondays and a live art event that gives spectators a chance to watch local artists paint live, the bar has plenty of entertainment to offer.
While its building was established in 1911 as the Royal George hotel, the Cobalt became a Vancouver music institution under the watch of manager and local promoter Wendythirteen. Before facing eviction from the building’s landlords in 2009, she ran the venue for nearly a decade, bringing the Dayglo Abortions, D.O.A., The Hanson Brothers and more to the Cobalt’s stage. While it no longer focuses exclusively on heavy music, the Cobalt has been a lively spot in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. In 2018, the Cobalt announced it would temporarily close for mandated renovations.