The Best Live Music Venues in Toronto
The best live music venues in Toronto span the entire downtown grid and are about as diverse as our music scene itself. Our city continues to thrive, leading the charge for great Canadian talent, both local and from afar, as well as hosting some of the best international artists in must-see shows all around the city. From warm acoustic shows to a club banging dance party or a sweat-fueled rock show, Toronto has a bit of everything any given night of the week.
But what are the best spots? What venue has the best acts, sound, lighting, and vibe? Here are the 15 best live music venues in Toronto as voted by readers of this site.
Note: This list was previously published on March 2, 2008. Venues that were on the original list but did not make the cut for this one include Sneaky Dees and The Rex. Comments below made up until June 13th, 2010 are in reference to the old list. We've purposely kept the archived comments here because we believe they (mostly) add value to this topic.
A venue so good that “legendary” has become synonymous with its name. The Horseshoe Tavern continues to be Toronto’s favourite live music venue for over 60 years, offering an intimate environment, great sound, and a comforting familiarity to any avid concertgoer looking to check out up-and-coming local and touring indie bands. More »
The freshly painted mural that covers the front of Lee’s Palace is a historic part of the Annex, shining like a beacon to all those that pass by, and reminding music fans to check their local listings. The mid-sized venue hosts some of the best local and international indie talent and bands. More »
Saddle up, partner, because the Dakota Tavern’s western atmosphere is hard to ignore, allowing a perfect saloon-inspired setting for up-and-coming Country, Blues, and Rock bands to cut their teeth and drink their whisky. The brightly lit corner stage, a mere step up from the floor, maintains the romanticism and subterranean country setting. More »
Taking up shop in Little Italy, the Mod Club offers an eclectic mix of live music that ranges from bands, emcees, DJs and dance parties. The large interior offers concertgoer’s plenty of room to move and groove, while the stage, with its awesome lighting setup, allows for an arena style show without the binoculars. More »
Quickly rising to the forefront as one of the best places to catch up-and-coming talent, the Garrison hosts the Wavelength concert series, which is most renowned for helping bands like Broken Social Scene, the Constantines, and the Hidden Cameras break out in Toronto and beyond. More »
One of the most popular live music venues in the city, the Opera House hosts those bands that are too popular for a smaller venue, but not quite mainstream enough for the ACC. The sound and lighting is incredible - a perfect way to catch those rising stars or old favourites without paying inflated ticket prices. More »
Offering up a different vibe than the rest of the Hotel, the Drake Underground enlists the talent of local and international DJs, as well as some of the hottest young indie acts in Canada to help fill their venue with a “hip” clientele. More »
The Phoenix is best described as a warehouse, a mid-sized to large venue that offers two floors, nice sound, and good lighting to catch your favourite rock band or 102.1 The Edge live on to air broadcast. It has hosted some legendary acts over the years and is a true staple among Toronto music fans. More »
The Folk/Roots revival began at Hugh’s Room, which has made the genre its primary focus since opening back in 2001. Located just north of Roncesvalles, the venue and restaurant offers concertgoers a chance to sit down, relax, and get swept away in its intimate setting and back-to-basics approach to live music. More »
Parkdale's favourite hole in the wall, Wrongbar is a down and dirty mix of party goers and indie rock, hosting concerts that feature bands, emcees, and DJs. It’s a great place to catch touring artists that are still building their fan-base in Toronto and not quite ready to hit some of the larger venues. More »
Located in an old Church on John Street just north of Queen, the Music Gallery is a beloved venue that boasts incredible acoustics that simply can’t be beat in the city. A make-shift bar is usually set up in the foyer for refreshments, but this venue truly is all about music. More »
Just as “legendary” as any other Toronto venue, the El Mo is a two-story powerhouse that features indie bands, folk music, DJ sets and more. Downstairs is a little more reserved, lending its ear to the quieter side of rock, while upstairs generally hosts the louder bands and DJs. More »
The Rivoli is a staple amongst up-and-coming talent and one-off nights, as this small all-purpose venue guarantees an intimate night with great sound. The back room hosts everything from comedy to burlesque shows, but music is where it ultimately stands out the most. More »
Planted in the heart of Parkdale, the Shop is located within the restaurant Parts & Labour and gives the impression of a basement show at a house party. Music ranges from Punk and Hardcore to Dance and Hip Hop, giving this new venue a chance to attract anyone and everyone. More »