Two quintessentially Vancouver things — hockey and a laid-back attitude — are prompting international mega-stars to pick the city for their practice sessions.
U2, the Rolling Stones and Nickelback have all chosen Vancouver as the city to rehearse for upcoming tours.
More recently, the local newspapers have featured pictures of an aging Sting ambling about the city while he and his bandmates in the Police were here to practise prior to their reunion performance at the Grammy Awards.
In May, Vancouver will be the starting point for the world tour of the British group that dominated the hit charts in the 1980s.
While music industry insiders say a lower dollar is the most obvious reason to choose Vancouver over somewhere like Los Angeles, which has an established music industry, Canadians’ love for hockey plays a part.
“Most American cities aren’t hockey crazed so they don’t have multiple hockey arenas or arena venues that can house the type of pre-production and rehearsal spaces that are needed for artists,” said Dave Fortune, western director for production services at House of Blues.
He said if bands want to mount a mega-show, they need to practise in a venue that will mirror the ones they’ll eventually perform in.
“There are very few cities in North America that have two major hockey rinks like (Vancouver’s) Pacific Coliseum and General Motor’s Place.”
Geographically, Vancouver is also a prime spot to start or stop a tour. Being the most western major city in Canada means musicians can head to or come in from the east, south or across the Pacific from Japan or Australia.
“The boat literally stops here,” said Fortune. “(A band) can dump their gear here, pick it up at the docks and drive it to the rehearsal studio, drop the gear and go from there.”