Trane Studio is quite a trip. From the outside, one can easily surmise that it's a restaurant/bar of sorts - not exactly nondescript, but not quite eye-catching - yet once indoors, I am hit with an energy so electric, so overwhelming that I was almost uncomfortable. I had walked straight into the middle of a trumpet solo.
The shocking introduction aside, Trane Studio is a gem. Though its exterior is positively vanilla compared to the show within, the interior space is a wonderful one - large, with an exposed brick wall and carved ceilings - and decorated simply, with black-and-white portraits of famous jazz musicians. The furniture is mismatched and worn, but seating is ample and comfortable.
Having endured plenty of nights that have piqued that claustrophobe in me, the openness of the place is its most obvious appeal. There's a timeless and modern look and feel to it - the era, even the city it recalls is difficult to pinpoint. This is not a Toronto I'm familiar with, and good for it.
Despite being named after jazz great John Coltrane, Trane Studio has a sign out front that proclaims the space an "art bar" rather than a jazz one, which makes sense once one takes a look at its event schedule. Monologue nights for aspiring actors occur at least once a month, and there are twice-monthly "acoustic indie" open mic nights.
A strong sense of community and appreciation certainly comes across in the obvious intimacy between the staff, patrons and performers. Try as you might to ignore the ongoings of the stage, the live acts are positively spellbinding in their energy. The alcohol flows freely and the menu is fruitful, but Trane Studio is definitely more a venue than restaurant or bar. That isn't to say its charisma is dependent solely on its performers, however. There's a mellow enthusiasm even without an occupied stage.
Trane Studio is not a place to get rip-roaringly drunk and raucous, but it's certainly exciting in its own way. The variety in its shows promises a different type of crowd nightly, and the energy of the performers is contagious. It's worth a repeat visit just to see how much it differs depending on who's there.