The Best Live Music Venues in Toronto
The best live music venues in Toronto are generally mid-sized, but a few are even tiny. You won't find any massive stadium spaces here. Slanted floors, sweaty, crammed spaces and cozy living room-style venues make for the best live experience in this city, and we've got a lot to choose from.
Here are the best live music venues in Toronto.
Massey Hall is a legendary place for many reasons, not the least of which because the acoustics are unmatchable and the views are great. The seats on that upper balcony are dangerously piled together on unnatural angles, and you can fit about one of your butt cheeks on there, but it's most likely the show you're seeing is being recorded for a live LP, so suck it up.
Walking down the steep steps into this country bar on Ossington, you're quickly transported away from urban Toronto. The twinkling lights, wood walls and warm sound from the bands and artists who play here make you feel good all over. That the bourbon pours like a lazy river probably helps with the feeling.
The Horseshoe at Queen and Spadina will forever make it onto lists like this because after 60 years it's still the grungiest, grimiest, noisiest, most rock 'n roll venue the city has. Sure it's pretty tiny and the legendary concert floor is flat, but that's what thick soles are for. Make sure to bring your earplugs - seeing your favourite band this close is the best, but also the loudest.
The cartoonish Annex venue will make you feel welcome from the second you walk through the narrow entrance into the bigger concert space. Lee's has played host to debut shows by Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Oasis. Any chance you get to see a show here, take it. History could be made in your attendance.
This Queen East joint tends to feature bands too popular for a smaller venue but not quite mainstream enough for the ACC. It's the perfect size. I once saw The Gossip perform here and we came close to having the art deco walls cave in and the balcony fall on us because of the booming sound and amazing dance party that happened below the stage.
This is one of the city's more expansive mid-size venues, with a huge floor space and back balcony. This place plays host to massive dance parties and some of the best bands in the world who can't quite fill up a stadium. The Phoenix is basically the perfect size for a live music venue. See your favourite band here before they hit the ACC.
The Cameron House is one of the coziest live venues in the city and the sound is just right. A powerful place to see an intimate show, there's the always bumping front room, and then the awkward-to-get-to back room, which is worth the trouble getting to for the sound, views and vibe.
One of the finest spots to see a hip hop, dance or electronic show, hands down. The sound in here will stop your heart and reset your brain. A good spot for international DJ sets and indie bands, it's a completely different vibe from the rest of the hotel and the street outside. It's dark and deep and there's very little cell phone reception (which is a good thing!)
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