Smiling Buddha has long been known as an on-and-off hub for emerging Toronto indie rock bands as well as a prototypical dive bar that resisted gentrification. But as of this month, new life has been bestowed to this College and Dovercourt spot.
While the massive porcelain Buddha, colour blocking painted walls and cracked peach and white linoleum tiling remain, a few exciting changes have come, like a return to regular concert scheduling. Thanks to new owners, Neil Hunter and Erin Taylor who formerly ran an underground DIY space on Sterling Road, bands wont be interrupted mid-set or be shocked to have their levels turned down halfway.
They've also enlisted stalwart booker Mark Pesci to take care of programming.
"Every musician has played here at some point in their career. They may not be in their current band, but they have been here in some form or other," said Mark who has booked bands here as far back as 2005.
Last Friday I saw Hooded Fang play a special cover set of New York's Seminal No-Wave ambassadors ESG to a happy crowd that kept the vibe bouncing off the walls. Had they played at a larger venue, it might not have been the same.
The Bruce Lee painting acting as stage backdrop is a welcome new addition to the old 70s lamps, and weird kitschy art like a knitted wall-hanging that reminds me of Tool's Ænima album cover.
The bar is well stocked, and on the cheap with cans of Strongbow cider for a mere $5.00, premium pints of Sapporo and Blanche De Chambly are as low as $5.50, and you can even splurge on a 600 ml bottle of Beau's Lugtread for $7.50 if you've just been paid and are feeling like a baller.
Straight shots start at $3.75 and you don't even have to rent out a booth! In fact, there are plans to bring the former restaurant booths back and to resurrect the kitchen (a Chinese menu is unlikely), but these are long-term goals.
"I don't want to pigeon hole the place as people know my background in the punk and hardcore community," said Mark. "But we want this to be a place where you can show up and know that you're going to be able to hear, give or take, a certain kind of music." So if you're a fan of guitar-based and danceable music in the vein of rock, punk, new-wave, you should be able to show up any weekend and not be disappointed."
The Smiling Buddha is currently open every day from 7 pm until close, with standup comedy on Mondays and live bands Friday and Saturday.
BASHMENT IN BANDO
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19TH @ SMILING BUDDHA, 961 College St.
Music by Audio Gang
Special performance/Hosted by Dopeface
Calling all dope boyz, calling all dancehall queens, come flip a bird and bruk off your back
Hip-Hop / Dancehall / Bounce / Trap / Grime / R&B / Soca / Jersey Club
Ladies $5 all night
Mandem $5 before 11:00
Bad Kidz Release Party
Thursday Feb. 9th at the Smiling Buddha 961 College Street
Cover: 5$ before 10PM, 8$ after 10PM
K-HAM CA of Skulk Boys
Asiatic Buddha Gang
DJ sets by King Chino and DonKnow
Hard copies of the ABG x Skulk collab "Bad Kidz" as well as ABG's "97" will be on sale at the venue for $10 each.
Stranded Fest Presents: Skalentine's Day 2017
A night of Ska cover sets and passion!
Come find love in the pit with some of the best Ska and Ska Punk bands around, putting on amazing cover sets for Valentine's Day.
Ruthless Ones as OPERATION IVY
The Skadoos as NO DOUBT
Suits 'n Toques as STREETLIGHT MANIFESTO
Luceo as RANCID
Advance Tickets $5
$10 at the Door
THIS EVENT IS 19
Doors at 9:00PM
Poster by Jackie Lee Art
A Grassroots and Independent Event
THURSDAY MARCH 2ND 2017
Doors at 8PM
$10 at the door
THE OFFICIAL SINGLE FOR MOTHER TO A BROTHER WILL BE DROPPING JANUARY 27TH WORLDWIDE AND WE WANNA PARTY WITH YOU ALL
WE’RE THROWING A RELEASE PARTY AT THE SMILING BUDDHA ON THE NIGHT IT COMES OUT
FRIDAY, JANUARY 27TH, 2017
WE GOT Ruthless Ones & Wine Lips SETTING THE MOOD FOR THE NIGHT AND WE COULDN’T BE MORE STOKED TO FINAAAAAALLY BE SHARING NEW MUSIC WITH YOU… AND DON’T WORRY, EXPECT MUCH MORE TO COME!
THIS SHOW WILL BE ALL AGES!
KEEP YOUR EYES ON THIS PAGE FOR MORE SUPRISES LEADING UP TO THE SHOW!
THIS SHOW WILL BE ALL AGES AND MOST DEFINITELY A SAFE SPACE AS WE WANT EVERYONE TO FEEL SAFE AT OUR SHOWS. WE HAVE A STRICT ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY TO ANY KIND OF DISCRIMINATION OR ASSAULT WHATSOEVER, SO PLEASE APPROACH ANY MEMBER OF THE BANDS AND/OR STAFF IF YOU EXPERIENCE ANY KIND OF INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR.
Smiling Buddha (961 College St, Toronto, ON M6H 1A6)
$8 / ALL AGES ALL AGES ALL AGES ALL AGES! / Music @ 9
DOORS @ 7:30 PM
Wine Lips @ 9:00 PM
Ruthless Ones @ 10:00 PM
Goodbye Honolulu @ 11:00 PM