La Vitrola is one of a series of Montreal spots — consisting of Casa del Popolo, La Sala Rossa, and La Sotterenea — run by Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Mauro Pezzente and artist/printmaker Kiva Stimac. Situated above Spanish social club/restaurant Centro Gallego, this 271-person capacity venue was established in 2014 to accommodate the increasing scope and popularity of the Suoni Per Il Popolo festival (presented by the Société des Arts Libres et Actuels, a.k.a. SALA, a Montreal-based non-profit organization, founded in 2002, that promotes avant-garde and experimental music within the community). Now, La Vitrola is one of the primary hosts for this festival.
But long before becoming La Vitrola and hosting avant-garde music festivals, the building at 4602 St-Laurent Blvd. had strong musical ties to the community. From 1920 to 1924, it housed the Starr Phonograph Company record store. It was the discovery of this bit of history that inspired Pezzente to choose the name “La Vitrola” - in an interview conducted by Cult MTL in 2014 (the year the venue opened), he stated that “Vitrola is the same word [in Spanish] as victrola, a phonograph, and Kiva [Pezzente’s wife/co-proprietor] liked the idea of being able to use that imagery for signs and for the website” (CultMTL.com).
To ensure that La Vitrola is able to do credit to the acts it hosts — including Gulfer, Screaming Females, Anika, Speedy Ortiz, Pharmakon, Cloakroom, and Sonic Avenues — the venue has been outfitted with an impressive array of audio gear. For artists, there are mics, digital interface boxes, and DJ equipment available. For audiences, there are two EAW 15′ JF650 passive speakers, two Mackie SRM650 Active Monitor speakers (and SRM550’s as well), two RCF 4PRO 803-AS Active Subwoofers, a Crown 3600-VZ 2-channel loudspeaker amp, and one DBX Drive Rack PA with Complete Loudspeaker Management System. For visual effect, La Vitrola offers a small set of in-house stage lights and can accommodate video projection.