Nestled between the Strathcona and Chinatown areas of East Vancouver, the Rickshaw Theatre is a venue rich with history and is revered in the local music scene as one of the best places to see live music in the city.
Originally a kung-fu movie theatre owned by the legendary Shaw Brothers, the Rickshaw was given new life as a home for local and touring music talent starting in 2009 after lying closed and mostly unused for the better part of two decades. After shortly becoming the owner and general MMO manager in 2011, Mo Tarmohamed and his team have made it their duty to provide artists and fans alike with a safe, positive, and memorable live music experience night after night.
“We try to create an environment where attendees can fully immerse and lose themselves in experiencing live music in the company of like-minded people” explains Tarmohamed, calling in over Zoom from the main entrance bar of the theatre, serving as a temporary office. He notes that camaraderie often is formed between performers and the Rickshaw tech crew as providing the best possible conditions for acts to sound great on stage is a team effort from top to bottom.
In almost 15 years of operation, any list of iconic bands and artists who have graced the Rickshaw stage would only be scratching the surface. Tarmohamed name drops Buzzcocks, Bif Naked, and Bob Mould as personal favorites and goes into detail about a haunting performance by post rock trio Russian Circles in 2014.
In spite of a number of challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has posed for live music venue operators across Canada, the Rickshaw has weathered the storm. Tarmohamed again attributes success to his team, specifically namedropping production manager Rob Barrington and marketing specialist Louise Wersching, for running livestream events over the past year featuring over 40 local bands and for upgrading the venue’s line of branded merchandise and apparel. The Rickshaw has also benefited from a number of government grants and subsidies available to the live music sector. “We, in BC, are very lucky to have provincial government arts funding organizations such as Creative BC, who last year made it possible for venues like us to receive generous grants from their Amplify BC program to help offset some of our operating costs” Tarmohamed says “It was a lifeline for us.”
If you’re in Vancouver and are in a position to see a live music show, you can bet on a stellar night at the Rickshaw Theatre.
Author: James Olson