cmw venues

The top 5 concert venues to check out for CMW 2015

Canadian Music Week is set to kick off its 33rd year with an expanded 10-day schedule of concerts, film and comedy May 1-10. Though it has historically been the duller, more industry-driven sister to other Toronto music fests, the list of 2015 headliners verges on the impressive - arguably snagging more big names than NXNE. We're through the looking glass, people.

A $75 wristband gives you access to pretty much everything, while single tickets or concert lotteries are available for those inclined to cherry pick. You can see our list of picks for the overwhelming fest here.

With so much to see over 10 days, it's hard to decide where to hunker down for the best music. So once again, to simplify your festival planning, we've rounded up the top CMW venues across the city that offer the best atmosphere, bring something new or have snagged the lion's share of must-see acts.

Here are my picks for the top venues to check out during CMW 2015.

See also: The top 25 shows at Canadian Music Week 2015

Sony Centre
Most of the huge names will hit Sony's stage, with a wide mix despite all falling in the rock category. See Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds, John Mellencamp, a Chris Walla-less Death Cab for Cutie and Faith No More (playing here for the first time since their breakup 17 years ago). Wristband-holders have to enter a lottery for a chance to catch a high-end show in this opulent space.

Lee's Palace
Lee's is always reliable for solid bands in a casual environment. This year's big ticket is METZ's two-night stand on the eve of a new album, but the other nights entice with more punk-influenced offerings such as The Flatliners, Cloud Nothings, Single Mothers, King Tuff, and Dead Tired. If you're like me (i.e. short), Lee's multi-level sightlines are a plus, and newly rebranded The Cave is right upstairs with its own CMW roster.

There's no better way to test drive the newest Toronto's music venue than during a major music fest. Though it's smaller, this restaurant/music hall is generating a healthy rep based on slick decor, good craft brews, and well-curated music several nights a week. Their CMW roster is impressive for a newbie - catch local indie must-sees such as Birds of Bellwoods and Dirty Frigs.

The Phoenix
Yeah, it's kinda dingy and the sound can be hit-or-miss, but the Phoenix still maintains a certain charm as one of the only mid-sized venues in Toronto. This year, CMW's plugging nostalgia post punk here with The Psychedelic Furs and The Jesus and Mary Chain. There's also a Unison benefit show featuring all the Can-con you can handle, from Kim Mitchell to K-OS.

The Great Hall
West Queen West's historic theatre escaped doom late last year with a successful petition to increase capacity. It'll be a while before we see significant upgrades, but until then, it's a luxury to catch a concert in a space that can never get too full. Celebrate the Great Hall's victory against condo-fication with the likes of Evan Dando, Rich Aucoin, and FIDLAR.


Drake Underground
Tucked away underneath the hotel, there's a reason The Underground's considered one of the best live music venues in the city. The intimacy of the underfoot lounge makes it ideal for the smoother sounds of electro, hip hop and alt-pop, so accordingly, the CMW schedule includes East India Youth, Leon Bridges, Lapsley and Lady Leshurr. Plus the secret guest on May 9th ought to make things interesting.

Where will you be at CMW? Let us know in the comments. Photo of the Great Hall by Jesse Milns

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