The top 10 east end live music venues in Toronto
Toronto's music scene has largely remained within the west-end of the city for years now, thanks to the sheer number and variety of venues dispersed around the area. The Garrison, The Horseshoe and Lee's Palace are all popular spots to catch the bigger acts coming through Toronto, but let's not completely discount the east just yet. Venues such as the Phoenix, Danforth Music Hall and even the Kool Haus, technically, all reside on the opposite end of the city and draw just as many good bands as the west does. Here are 10 live music venues in the east end worth paying a visit to.
Phoenix Concert Theatre (410 Sherbourne St.)
One of the more popular venues in the east-end, the Phoenix Concert Theatre has been an integral part of festivals like North By Northeast, Canadian Music Week and The Toronto International Film Festival. Over the past 20 years, the 18,000-sqaure feet space has seen the likes of Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, and Green Day play there. The space, which is divided into three main areas, can often be seen not only hosting great rock shows, but also hosting DJ dance nights.
Danforth Music Hall (147 Danforth Ave.)
After silently closing its doors for about a year in 2010, the Danforth Music Hall has returned, ready to host even better shows. The 1,100 seat venue has since been repaired and cleaned up and acts like Kimbra and Patrick Watson have grace the shiny new stage. The theatre was even chosen to host the Toronto stop of Rihanna's recent 777 Tour.
Polyhaus (388 Carlaw Ave.)
Polyhaus is quickly rising up to be a potential contender for a music hotspot in the city. Hidden away in the east-end, this multi-use loft space promises to be the "Swiss army knife of a space on Toronto's east side." Clearly suited for a more alternative music scene, bands such as Doldrums, Odonis Odonis and Unfinished Business are gravitating to this space now for shows.
Opera House (735 Queen St. E)
Originally a vaudeville theatre in the 1900's, The Opera House is a part of Toronto's entertainment history. Featuring a gorgeous 35-foot proscenium arch, the Riverside venue now hosts a variety of events, notably a constant listing of great bands ranging from metal acts to rappers. International acts such as Rage Against the Machine and Eminem have performed there.
Riverside Public House (725 Queen St. E)
Nav Sangha has shown that he knows how to successfully run venues, with his two west-end spots Wrongbar and The Great Hall. Now, he has set his sight on the east, taking over the former Blue Moon Pub and overhauling it into the Riverside Public House. Teaming up with Mike Homewood (The Curzon) and Top Chef Canada contestant Dustin Gallagher, this new bar promises a sleek new environment, good food, and a small stage and dance floor tucked away at the back for live music.
The Only Café (972 Danforth Ave.)
A popular east-end joint, the Only Café is not only lauded as one of the best place to drink beer in the city, but it also offers up live music on a regular basis. The comfortable setting, with its walls covered in mis-matched frames, offers a variety of beers on tap and is also open to hosting everything from bands to readings.
Kool Haus (132 Queens Quay E)
One of the city's most well-known nightclubs, the Kool Haus can go from rock music venue to all-out nightclub and even fundraisers and dinners within hours. The 27,000 square-foot space is, for the most part, a huge open space, but is lit up with bright lights and seating along the side. Larger acts tend to perform at this mid-to-large sized venue, for example, Cat Power, Beach House and Alabama Shakes. Coldplay, Lady Gaga and N.E.R.D. have even performed there before they became stadium bands.
Dominion on Queen (500 Queen St. E)
A Corktown landmark since 1889, Dominion on Queen is down the street from the Opera House, but provides a whole other variety of entertainment. This bar is often open to hosting a slew of jazz and blues musicians as well as comedians and poetry readings.
Centre of Gravity (1300 Gerrard St. E)
Normally a vaudeville theatre and circus training studio, Centre of Gravity has also hosted a number of concerts throughout the years. Back in the day, the now-defunct Spiral Beach would perform at this venue often and every year, it's guaranteed to host a wild New Year's Eve party, possibly circus-themed.
Linsmore Tavern (1298 Danforth Ave.)
Located steps away from Greenwood station, descriptions for the Linsmore Tavern have ranged from "a real dump" to "almost wholesome." Having been around for almost 80 years, the east-end bar also offers up live music on a regular basis.
Photo by Dylan Leeder