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20 must-see spring concerts in Toronto

Posted by Adam Golfetto / March 21, 2014

Spring Concerts TorontoMust-see spring concerts in Toronto don't just add to the noise of the huge, multi venue spring concerts the city has on the horizon, they also remind us that we made the right choice by not moving to Florida back in November. A short while ago we discussed how this probably was not the worst winter Toronto has ever seen, but it certainly felt like it. It's still going on too! Spring is coming though, and the warmer weather is bringing with it many must-see music acts.

This spring catch a collection of big name indie acts from the last decade, but keep your eyes and ears open for some new up and comers. Here are 20 shows you should not miss when the snow melts, in chronological order.

Mar 24, 25 | Childish Gambino | Sound Academy
Ex-Community star and stand-up comedian Childish Gambino has been pretty serious about progressing musically. He's coming to Toronto for back-to-back nights at the Sound Academy next week. Check him out March 24 and 25.

April 6 | Cloud Nothings | Horseshoe Tavern
Cloud Nothings won me over with their drone rock banger "No Future/No Past", which was accompanied by a frighteningly original music video. Shades of punk, hardcore and rock blast out of their music, and one can only imagine how well it will translate into a high energy live show. Check them out at the Horseshoe Tavern on April 6.

Apr 9, 10, 11 | The National | Massey Hall
Three dates were necessary for this rock staple. The National have been absolutely killing it the past few years, releasing solid album after solid album. If you don't have your ticket to see them April 9, 10, or 11 at Massey Hall, you better start searching Craigslist.

Apr 19 | Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks | Lee's Palace
David Portner, aka Avey Tare, has refused to make classifiable music throughout his entire career. His most recent venture is no exception. Check out his new act that has been described as a "jazz power trio", among many other desperate attempts at a label. The guy is a great performer and their show on April 19 at Lee's Palace is bound to be a pretty weird experience.

Apr 25 | The Knife | Kool Haus
It's The Knife. What else do I have to say? Like Daft Punk, their insane live shows are a bucket list item for the majority of music lovers. The most recent tour, supporting their latest album, appears to be some sort of dance/ballet performance, judging by live photos. Whatever the Swedish duo brings to Toronto, make sure you don't miss them at the Kool Haus on April 25.

Apr 25 | Say Hi | Drake Hotel
The do-it-yourselfer from Seattle has been putting out some really fine indie rock/pop for several years now. I always get excited for the release of a new Say Hi (formerly Say Hi to Your Mom) album because there is bound to be a handful of fantastically nerdy love songs. Last time I saw him it was upstairs at Sneaky Dee's, years and years ago. You will want to see him when he comes around this time, playing the Drake Hotel on April 25.

Apr 26 | Zomboy, Cookie Monsta, TC | The Hoxton
Do you love bass? Do you love dubstep? Do you love Sesame Street? If any of these apply to you, you need to catch these three killers when they shake the Hoxton on April 26. If you have been to a dub club any time in the past 5 years, you've definitely heard a track or two from all these guys, and seeing them all in one night is a can't-miss experience.

May 2 | Boys Noize | The Hoxton
Boys Noize is just plain fun to see live. He turns up the electro knob to the point of breaking it off. Grab your rum and coke in a plastic cup and get ready to stomp right through the floorboards of the Hoxton on May 2, when this rocker from Hamburg drops what is assured to be a crazy awesome set.

May 3 | Shlohmo | Opera House
I haven't had the pleasure of seeing beat master Shlohmo do his live thing yet, and I can't say for certain what that will entail. His music normally hovers around quiet bass beats with often off-time snare pops and warm organ tones. How this will translate to a live show is something definitely worth looking into. You can see what he brings to the stage of the Opera House on May 3.

May 9 | City and Colour | Air Canada Centre
Ex-Alexisonfire guitarist Dallas Green has been operating under the alias City and Colour for a while now. Last time I saw him was on TV for the kick-off to the Boston Bruins/Toronto Maple Leafs playoff series last year. For some reason, he was dressed like Elvis Costello. One can only hope his music doesn't start going this way too. You be the judge when he plays the ACC on May 9 (as part of CMW).

May 9 | Odesza | Tattoo
Seattle-based duo Odesza have been putting together gorgeous sample-based beats for two years now. They bring their dreamwave sounds to Toronto on May 9, when they play Tattoo.

May 10 | Owen Pallett | Danforth Music Hall
The brilliant mind behind the strings of early Arcade Fire, Owen Pallett has been working on a film soundtrack and a lengthy solo career since. This spring he is coming to Toronto yet again. Watch him loop his violin over and over to build up beautiful masterpieces while he croons along in his trademark falsetto. He plays the Danforth Music Hall on May 10.

May 11 | Wye Oak | Horseshoe Tavern
If you don't know who Wye Oak is yet but you love indie folk rock, you need to get on board. For many, this band came to light when their track "Civilian" closed out an emotional episode of The Walking Dead. Go have an ale or two at the old Horseshoe Tavern on May 11 and nod your head along to some jaunty tunes.

May 13 | Lana Del Rey | Sony Centre
I admit I'm not super up-to-date on the growing library of Lana, but everyone I talk to (especially our music editor) seems to love her. If you love her, if you don't know her, if you think you know her but you're worried that maybe what you know isn't really what's going on - whatever the case may be, grab a ticket and go see Lana at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts on May 13.

May 13 | Mogwai | Danforth Music Hall
This is easily the show I am most excited for on this list. Scottish post rock gang Mogwai has been killing live shows for years and years now, and their stop in Toronto on May 13 will be no exception. Sit back in your seat at the Danforth Music Hall and just take it all in as vibrant guitars, heavy drums and steady bass accompany pretty lights to entice your senses.

May 15 | HAIM | Kool Haus
The future is nothing but bright for young sister trio HAIM from Los Angeles. Their brand of steady pop rock with 80s undertones got my attention when they released the single "Don't Save Me" last year. Since then they have played Saturday Night Live and are getting the chance to play big venues all over the world. Come to the Kool Haus on May 15 and see what all the fuss is about.

June 3 | Polica | Mod Club
When I heard, "I See My Mother" - one of the best tracks released in 2012 - I immediately fell in love with the stripped bare sound of trippy rock group Polica. They are two albums deep now and don't show signs of holding up. Their Toronto stop will be at the Virgin Mobile Mod Club on June 3, and it is definitely worth catching.

June 6 | First Aid Kit | Danforth Music Hall
Welcome the warm vibes of summer with some solid girl-folk. My interest in Swedish sister duo First Aid Kit piqued when I heard their beautiful cover of the classic "When I Grow Up" by Fever Ray. Dance along dreamily when they play the Danforth Music Hall on June 6.

June 6 | A-Trak | The Hoxton
If folk isn't your thing, then make your way over to Hoxton instead on June 6 to see a production champion get the dance floor bumping. A-Trak has not stopped turning it up, with some fantastic remixes and mashup releases over the years.

June 19 | Journey & Steve Miller Band | Molson Amphitheatre
Waking up on Saturday mornings to the sound of "Only the Young" was a regular occurrence for me as a kid. Two rock giants are performing a can't miss double header on June 19 at the Molson Amphitheatre. For many, this will be a walk down memory lane. Come out and revisit the 80s with hundreds of beer-gutted, mullet-sporting old men on what will (hopefully) be a balmy late spring/early summer night.

See also

What spring shows in Toronto are you excited for? Let us know in the comments.

Photo by Anthony Abbott via Flickr. Follow Adam on Twitter and Instagram



Musi / March 21, 2014 at 09:49 am
There's this relatively unknown German band playing at the Sony Centre March 29th. I think they do some kind of electronic music for your parents. Not really a must see or cool to the 19 - 24 demo graph who would much rather watch The Knife lip sync and mime around like asinine clowns to prerecorded tunes and accept it as high art.
Aubrey replying to a comment from Musi / March 21, 2014 at 11:26 am
Hey Musi, did you skin your knee on the Autobahn? Hope that heals up fast :)
Snuggle Bunny / March 21, 2014 at 11:29 am
Damn! Say Hi - that will be fun - not a bad song in their repertoire (IMHO)

it should be mentioned that Braids is opening for Wye Oak.

Toronto is looking good this year, musically speaking.
Musi replying to a comment from Aubrey / March 21, 2014 at 11:38 am
Aubrey: Yes I saw that entirely different article from an entirely different writer, point?
K-Borg / March 21, 2014 at 12:05 pm
War on Drugs. Apr. 14 @ Horseshoe (sold out) & Apr. 15 @ Lee's.
Be there or be square.
Skilled Labour / March 21, 2014 at 03:27 pm
Why didn't you put Kraftwerk? Is it because it's not 1979?
Sophia / March 21, 2014 at 10:20 pm
Blahna del Meh
Aubrey replying to a comment from Musi / March 21, 2014 at 11:32 pm
Just worried about your scrape is all.
Tee / March 22, 2014 at 09:00 am
Kraftwerk is the show of the year.
Lana Del Ray.....seriously?
Adam replying to a comment from Musi / March 22, 2014 at 09:30 am
Musi, 19-24 is our main demographic. While I disagree wholeheartedly with your analysis of the Knife's live show, I do share your apparent dislike for hipsters. But Kraftwerk? This isn't "20 must-miss outdated German electronic acts".I only had room for one nostalgic concert on here, and 10 times out of 10 I would pick Journey over Kraftwerk.
JFS_II / March 22, 2014 at 03:19 pm
So you put up Lana Del Rey, but not Ray Lamontagne at Massey Hall?

This list sucks.
MIKE / March 22, 2014 at 05:50 pm
Too bad soooo many of these concerts are already sold out. Lana, Beck and the National sold out the day of the ticket sale.
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