Lee's Palace is The Annex's cartoonish rough diamond of a concert venue. It stands out vividly amongst the numerous sushi restaurants, bars, cafes, and more sushi restaurants that line Bloor Street West. The building in its present incarnation as a concert hall has been open since 1985, although it originally opened as a movie theatre in the 1950s and even served as a restaurant in between.
The front facade of Lee's, with its colourful graffiti-style outsider art, is easily recognizable and has helped the venue reach an iconic status in Toronto architecturally. Musically the venue is iconic as well, having hosted the Toronto debuts of such renowned bands as Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Oasis.
Inside, the space appears to be brainchild of Seinfeld's Kramer during his obsession with levels. The three distinct levels allow concertgoers to find their best-suited spot: the top level keeps one far enough away from the action to leisurely sip a drink and close enough to the bar to refill said drink; the middle level offers the best view of the stage and has elevated booths along either side wall; finally, the floor is like a caged-in pit for the die-hards.
On a given night, one may find an acclaimed touring act like The Decemberists , Toronto favourites DD/MM/YYYY or a slew of local unsigned bands grace the stage. The bands booked tend to lean towards the indie/alt-rock side of the musical spectrum and cover generally runs from $5 to $15.
As far as refreshments go, Lee's serves simple plastic cup cocktails and beer strictly in bottles. The beer selection ranges from mediocre domestics such as Labatt Blue and Molson Canadian, to Ontario micros like Steamwhistle and Mill St. Organic, and a few imports like Heineken.
Writing by Ian Leipurts
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