smiling buddha shooting

Shooting at Toronto live music venue prompts questions about security

An already-controversial live music venue in downtown Toronto is coming under criticism once again this week for its security practices after a gunman opened fire inside the club during a show.

Police were called to the Smiling Buddha, a dive bar and one-time indie rock hub on College Street just west of Dovercourt, around 11 p.m. on Saturday evening for reports of a gunshot.

One shell casing was located inside the "late night establishment," as police called it, but nobody was injured. Suspect information has yet to be released and police are still investigating.

It was a sad turn of events for the organizers of Live From The Pressure Cooker, a much-hyped event featuring rappers Daniel Son, Asun Eastwood, Saipher Soze and roughly half-a-dozen special guests.

"Due to the shooting, the show was cancelled in the middle of my set!" wrote Toronto-based musician Falcon Outlaw of the show on Instagram yesterday.

"Thanks to everyone that came out... the boys will return on stage again! Stay tuned."

"They shot up the show but can't slow our roll, we gonna run it back stronger. Appreciate everyone who came out to support," wrote Son in another Instagram post.

"Feel free to shit on The Smiling Buddha heavily for the disrespect."

Those attending the show on Saturday night were not only annoyed to have the concert cut short, but frightened by how easy it was for a gunman to get in.

"A guy came in with a gun and shot at the crowd," said one attendee by email. "There was absolutely no security at the venue. It was only one clearly intoxicated middle aged man checking ID at the door."

The attendee says he was troubled by how little the venue had done to keep its patrons safe.

"I heard that the venue is taking zero responsibility for this which is fucked up," he wrote. "It's not their fault that a gun went off, but music venues need some form of security at this day and age, espeeeecially if they are choosing to host a rap show on their property."

Toronto has seen an uptick in gun violence over the past few years, with shootings at bars, restaurants and clubs now a near-weekly occurrence in the city.

The Smiling Buddha itself is also no stranger to controversy: several major promoters and musicians cut ties with the venue back in March of 2018 when one of its co-owners was accused of sexual assault.

The longstanding indie rock venue on College Street was scheduled to host dozens of concerts over the next few months, but NOW Magazine reports that promoters are now furiously working to find new venues.

Dozens of shows were cancelled or relocated at the time, including Canadian Music Week's 2018 Double Denim Showcase.

Judging by the angry comments of people who went to the rap show at Smiling Buddha on Saturday, the venue could be in for another wave of cancellations.

"Leave that one star for The Smiling Buddha and warn your friends they could get killed there," wrote one commenter on Son's post. "Also fucked up potentially the best night in TO hip-hop history."

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns

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