live music venues toronto

5 Toronto businesses that double as live music venues

Live music lives everywhere in Toronto. It's found in the usual concert halls, clubs, bars, and cafes. There's buskers on street corners and concerts in public spaces like Yonge-Dundas Square and Harbourfront. And there's also live music in less expected nooks and corners of hair salons and hot dog shops.

Perhaps this proves Toronto is one step closer to being a true music city.

Here are my picks for the top spots in Toronto living a double-life as a live music venue.

Rod, Gunn & Barbers
The popular men's spot for haircuts in the Junction has more to it than the standard #2 at the side cut. While they do all styles of cuts for men from classic to samurai to lumbersexual, on Wednesday nights they feature an open mic, and on Fridays and Saturdays local indie acts perform in the barbershop. Music comes with beer steins, a dart board, and antlers.

Steam Whistle Brewery
This brewery is located at the historical Roundhouse at the base of the CN Tower with 30 foot ceilings and multi-paned windows. Separate from their beer brewing enterprise, Steamwhistle runs a regular "Unsigned" indie music series featuring musicians from across Canada. Their space is also available for other music events over the course of the year.

Quinn West Salon
Since opening four years ago, Quinn West has established itself as retro-looking multi-purpose hair salon. It's a popular spot with indie musicians (think Miranda Mulholland), and for good reason: on many nights the salon transforms into a venue for live music and cultural events. Yes, men's cuts are on offer too.

Let's Be Frank
Toronto has no shortage on hot dogs (and toppings). Since Let's Be Frank traded in their food truck for a space on College St., they added live music to the menu. Along with Katsu dogs, pulled pork po-boys, and poutine dogs, the musical offerings feature mostly indie punk, and rockabilly bands.

Amico's Pizza
Parkdale residents know Amico's for being open late (til 4am) and for its pizza, beer and bourbon. Some locals also swear by the clam linguine, but you can also get your music fill here. Friday nights Arthur Renwick and invited guests provide the live music for listeners over a slice. On other nights, one-off shows are booked for the space.


Ripley's Aquarium
With 16,000 aquatic animals, Ripley's has enough to looked at for several visits, but live music is an added bonus. The second Friday night of every month Ripley's adds jazz bands to its list of attractions. Performers play standards, r&B, and pop from under a glass tank of fish.

What did I miss? Add your suggestions for local spots living a double-life as a live music venue in the comments.

Photo via Steam Whistle

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