A Short Guide to Toronto Venues

18 May

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.


Adelaide Hall

Adelaide Hall

Adelaide Hall. Photo Credit: Monica Aza@TheManifesto

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


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

The Bovine Sex Club.

The Bovine Sex Club. Photo Credit: Janie J.@Yelp.ca

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.

Address: 542 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2B5


Cherry Cola’s Rock ‘n’ Rolla Cabaret and Lounge

Cherry Cola's Rock 'n' Rolla Cabaret and Lounge

Cherry Cola’s Rock ‘n’ Rolla Cabaret and Lounge. Photo Credit: Mauricio Calero@blogTO.

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


One Response to “A Short Guide to Toronto Venues”


  1. Monthly Roundup: May 2014 | Canadian Content Machine - June 3, 2014

    […] Speaking of those shows, we decided it was about time we gave more attention to the venues that do their best in setting up excellent shows. Ranging from the eclectic Bovine Sex Club to the crimson bodouir of Cherry Cola’s Rock ‘n’ Rolla Cabaret and Lounge, this short feature should give you a primer on some of Toronto’s most unique live venues. Read the full list here. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: