As we saw (and heard) last week thanks to Canadian Music Week 2014, Toronto’s live scene is as vibrant as ever. And of course, the bands wouldn’t be as varied, quixotic, and even a little exotic if the venues didn’t reflect the same. Today, we pick out some of the more notable places in Toronto to hit up for live shows and get your ears fed.
Last year, Adelaide Hall opened its doors on Adelaide St West. In less than a year, the intimate space has hosted acts like The Arkells, Snarky Puppy and The Sam Roberts Band. The rooftop bar, two floors and balcony can hold 680 of your closest friends who like local talent, indie bands, and occasionally wild events like secondhand proms, Daft Punk tributes, and drumming festivals. We recently featured the venue during Canadian Music Week 2014 for Black Box Music’s 10 Year Anniversary Showcase, featuring bands like The Glorious Sons and Ten Second Epic.
Address: 250 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5H 1X6
The Velvet Underground
This aptly-named nightclub boasts Warholian décor and Lou Reed-approved rock music. Scrap metal cherubs and fairy lights adorn the bright blue walls. You can take a seat and admire the intricate wood-work of the bar, lounge on the couch or hustle in a game of pool next to the dance floor, all the while listening to their live music or DJ du jour. The Velvet Underground have been showcasing Canadian talent and alternative rock since they hosted Alanis Morrisette’s Jagged Little Pill CD release party way back in 1995. They party like it’s Studio 54 with “nouveau goths to university preps” on their signature ’80s Nights, Noir Thursdays and Freeky Fridays.
Address: 510 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2B3
The Bovine Sex Club
Named after an inside joke, The Bovine Sex Club on Queen St West has become a trendsetter in the Toronto punk/rock scene. Their slogan, “Pet me. Milk me. Kill me. Eat Me. It’s the sh*t on the walls they remember,” refers to art installation that wraps discarded items such as bicycles and baby dolls around and inside the building. Furnished with nothing but picnic tables, string lights, attitude and imagination, the multiple genres from punk to pop clash and combine to create a sound that can only be housed by its close quarters; the small stage puts you almost face-to-face with performers including Queens of the Stone Age, Velvet Revolver, Billy Talent, Metallica and Rage Against the Machine.
Cherry Cola’s Rock ‘n’ Rolla Cabaret and Lounge
On Bathurst just north of Queen there is a chandelier hanging above a red door. This is the only sign of an entrance to Cherry Cola’s Rock ‘n’ Rolla Cabaret and Lounge, which caters to artistic locals. The red and black interior could be lifted straight out of a White Stripes music video with crimson velvet wallpaper and gilded antique mirrors. Described as “Old Hollywood meets Rock and Roll”, the plush velvet furniture is ideal for show-goers who get tired of standing while watching glass-encased burlesque dancers and bands perform on a black velvet-draped stage. Noted for their professional sound quality, the mature but kitschy lounge gives an intimate feeling to performances by rock ‘n’ rollas such as Them Crooked Vultures, Sexsmith and Die Mannequin.
Address: 200 Bathurst St, Toronto, ON M5T 2R7
Author: Sarah Gordier