sofar sounds toronto

Someone is hosting secret concerts in Toronto every month

There aren't very many concerts in the winner's circle at the Woodbine Racetrack. But in May, a group of volunteers packed a school bus with music-loving Torontonians and treated them to a show there.

Sofar Sounds Toronto is a volunteer run organization that's part of the larger Sofar Sounds network, which runs secret and intimate concerts in 310 cities around the world. And now, the Toronto arm is slowly expanding.

Jon Campbell, who helps runs Sofar Sounds Toronto, tells me that Toronto started hosting Sofar shows intermittently in 2011. But in late 2014, they rejigged their team and since early 2015, the group's run at least one show per month - they're now up to two per month with a third one on the way.

These concerts all happen in unconventional spaces, such as at Woodbine Racetrack. They've popped up in offices - like LinkedIn's Toronto headquarters - living rooms and backyards. Attendees don't find out the location until about 48 hours before show time.

Campbell thinks Sofar's a lesson in place-making. "In addition to being able to experience the musical landscape in all it’s glory, you also get to experience the city in a new and different way," he says.

While Sofar exists in pretty much every major city, Campbell wants to make the Toronto edition unique.

Part of that involves bringing in a diverse range of artists - from indie bands (such as the Great Lake Swimmers) to classical pianists, traditional Estonian folk groups and even a kamancello player.

"We have a captive audience that loves music and don’t realize they love all kinds of music until it’s thrust at them," says Campbell. "So we’re happy to be enabling that discovery ."

The newest Sofar Sounds Toronto show will be in Scarborough, a part of the city that's sorely lacking in contemporary music venues. “There a tons of people who are eager for shows to come to them," says Campbell.

Anyone can go to a Sofar show - all you have to do is go online and apply to attend.

Since each concert is supposed to be intimate, not everyone will get to go to each one; that shouldn't stop you from trying. After all, it's the intimacy that makes Sofar so special.

Lead photo by

Sofar Sounds Toronto


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