toronto concert venues

5 Toronto music venues getting a makeover in 2015

The announcement of Massey Hall's $135 million revitalization made headlines in February, but the historic concert hall is only one Toronto concert venue of many undergoing a makeover this year. Upcoming changes have been brought on by everything from new ownership to interior damage to badly needed audio upgrades.

It's impossible to narrow the list down to just five without some special mentions: Rancho Relaxo re-launched February 5th with a new main floor look (and menu), while keeping the same music room upstairs. Wrongbar reopened in February after renovations, while the Flying Beaver Pubaret is closed due to fire damage, with no word on reopening yet.

Then, of course, the El Mo may still see cosmetic changes after being sold to Dragons' Den's Michael Wekerle in fall 2014. Can the Phoenix, Opera House, and Hugh's Room be far behind?

Here are the 5 most impressive makeovers Toronto venues are undergoing this year.

Massey Hall
"Change nothing but improve everything" is the motto for the Massey Hall $135 million revitalization project. Over seven years, Massey Hall will undergo a number of renovations. Phase 1 includes the installation of a loading dock (currently front doors are used), a new basement, and expanded backstage. Phase 2's interior and exterior renovations begin in 2019. The bad news is the hall may close for up to two years during the renos.

The Sound Academy
Yes, the Sound Academy restoration will include a state-of-the-art-sound-system. Described as a "world-class event space" and the more-or-less official replacement for the Guvernment, look forward to a new name (any guesses?), an enlarged stage, a V.I.P. mezzanine, and retractable glass walls to show off the city. The venue will open for concerts, corporate events, and dance parties by the end of the year.

Adelaide Hall
In December 2014, Adelaide Hall suffered a small electrical fire, forcing a number of shows to relocate on short notice, including Jason Collett's Basement Review. The Rock 'n' Horse Saloon's winter shows were pushed out as well. Adelaide Hall plans to relaunch with regular shows beginning April 3rd, but they're still keeping details hush-hush.

Matador Ballroom
The Matador, which first opened in 1916, will open again in fall 2015 for special events. Music programming will start January 2016 to mark its 100th anniversary. Revitalization plans are underway already. The iconic sign remains outside, and inside work is being done on the historic ballroom (3,400 square feet, capacity 630) including the installation of full top end digital AV. Owner Paul McCaughey tells me that music genres at the Matador Ballroom will be mixed and reflect all the city has to offer.

The Cameron House
The Cameron House was closed January 4th-8th while the front room was renovated. The stage is now twice the size, the piano is onstage, and the sound system has been upgraded. Artists are thankful and impressed, resulting in more requests to play there. Of the changes, Cosmo Ferraro said, "It was really important that it didn't change the feel of the place, and I think we accomplished that."

A previous version of this post stated the Matador Ballroom capacity as 3,400. The square footage is 3,400. Operating capacity is 630 persons.

What Toronto concert venue is most in need of a makeover next? Let us know in the comments.

Photo of Adelaide Hall via JJ Thompson and Ryan Emberley (TIFF)

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