We’re quickly working our way to the end of the list, and clocking in at number 3 is The Rebecca Cohn Auditorium (conveniently nestled within the bosom of The Dalhousie Arts Centre). This is not the place to go if you’re looking for an over-the-top flashy production ala KISS or the Rolling Stones, this is the spot to be to see really interesting singer songwriters, comedians and/or folk bands. The Cohn is known for its renowned acoustics and the fact that it’s a mid-sized venue without a bad seat in the house. I’ve yet to walk out of a Cohn show and feel like I wasted my hard-earned concert cash. I’ve had the luxury of seeing bands such as the Barenaked Ladies, Sarah Harmer, The Philosopher Kings, Sarah McLachlan (twice – and more on that in a moment) and more recently Hayden, Joel Plaskett & Friends, City and Colour and Louis CK (for a paltry $35.00).
It’s a good spot for the fact that you don’t really get to enter the concert space until shortly before the show starts, so you get to hang around inside the Arts Centre and mingle with fellow concert goers and occasionally you bump into old friends. The bar is just around the corner and is usually quite efficient at quenching your thirst pre show, then you have to find your way to the bathrooms which are down a couple of flights of stairs and are a product of the early 80’s or late 70’s, they’re usually a low light while at the Cohn. Once you’re in, you can see the vast wide open nature and how close the stage actually is, for a space as large as it is, it’s remarkable how clear the interaction between artist and crowd is (I was in the front row when Hayden asked the audience for a screwdriver to fix his guitar – which was promptly delivered)
Back when Sarah McLachlan was starting out, security clearly was not a top priority as a buddy and I managed to sneak backstage after the show. We eventually got ousted, but we ended up getting to meet Ms. McLachlan and she autographed my poster and ticket stub. She was pretty cool and had plenty of time for the small crowd that gathered. It was a fun night, that ended up with us being stranded in the city (we grew up in Sackville/Beaver Bank) as it was a good ol’ east coast night of Freezing rain.
The Cohn was a clear-cut front-runner and a contender for best venue in Halifax, from the Line Up, the Intimate nature of the Space, to the placement of both the Bar and Bathroom, there was no one grand flaw, it just got outscored by the top 2. The Cohn never disappoints and I cannot wait to return for another show.