August 8, 2009

Musically Inclined Traveler: Toronto's Best Music Venues

I am going to Toronto for three days with my friend AhnThu, we probably aren't going to catch many live shows...mostly this trip is about eating as much sushi and Korean food as possible, going shopping and gorging on more Indian, Thai and Vietnamese food. However, if you are curious about Toronto's music scene, listed below are a few clubs, concert halls and lounges.

I'll start with the places closest to the UofT campus.

El Mocambo
This indie rock mecca is located on Spadina and College a block away from China Town to the South and the UofT campus to the north. It looks very unassuming during the day, however at night El Mocambo is where it's happening with local and international gigs scurrying in and scurrying out. Wale as well as La Roux both recently played at this place.

The Silver Dollar
This is right across the street from El Mocambo closer to UofT, its a lot sketchier (it is next to a half-way house and a homeless were warned). However, it tends to get some class punk, goth and rockabilly acts (Creepshow has played there a couple of times).

Lee's Palace
You have no idea how many times I have anticipated going into this place only to discover I was still below the age limit (I'm not anymore). Lee's is located on Bloor Street West in the funky Annex district (my favorite part of town). Lee's is the club every indie band goes to before making it big. Bloc Party, The Pigeon Detectives, and The Strokes have all played there.

The Mod Club
The Mod Club is another destination that up and coming bands flock to. Located on College Street West, this place specializes in British and British sounding music. If you have nothing to do on a Thursday night and no work the next day, Thursday nights at the Mod Club are awesome. On Thursdays the club turns into a traditional dance club environment blasting everything from Blur and Oasis to The Bravery and Death From Above 1979.

Dance Cave

A favorite of students, Dance Cave is really just a pub that blasts rock music instead of electronica or hip hop, but the atmosphere is pretty decent.

The Kool Haus and The Guverment
Located closer to Harbourfront, The Kool Haus is the concert portion of the Guverment. Many major acts make their way through here, its not as big as an arena and its larger than a club, this is where I saw Bloc Party. The Guverment is the larger complex attached to the Kool Haus I have been here during Frosh Night (a college club night of sorts) and its pretty decent. There are multiple rooms specializing in a wide variety of music from electronica, pop, rock and hip hop. The Guverment also sponsors a bunch of DJ-ing acts, everything from Steve Aoki, to local acts Dead Mau5 and Mstrkrft.

The Pheonix Concert Theatre
I saw Ladytron and The Faint here. It was a more intimate concert experience than The Kool Haus and I was able to get quite close to the stage (impressive considering how short I am). This is located a bit farther out, in East Toronto, off of College Street East.

One of the biggest and nicest clubs in Toronto. There is a strict dress code so be prepared. I went during another student night so they were a bit more lenient with us, however its definitely worth the extra time in front of the mirror. The club will impress you...

Don't forget about

Toronto Indie Week
A week in October that celebrates all things indie rock, with concerts at venues all over the city.

Canadian Music Week

Similar to indie week, however the focus is mainly on Canadian music, it also brings in large international acts (Bloc Party performed during "Canadian Music" week). If you purchase tickets for a concert chances are you can redeem your ticket stub at the venue for a wrist band (if you are over 19) that can get you into all the shows during the span of one to two days (usually a weekend).

Concert festival sponsored by 102.1 The Edge, showcases popular alternative rock bands and listener favorites.

The Virgin Music Festival

Takes place the last weekend in August, showcases major international acts as well as pioneers of the indie and alternative scenes.

North By North East
Toronto's response to South By Southwest in Austin. one big indie festival, with lots of live shows and concert venues, art and independent film.

Anyways posts for the next three days will go ahead as scheduled, however if you really miss me, you can always read my older posts! They do get lonely, I have July playlists and bands from May...April never gets much attention. However I will be back to a normal blogging schedule come Wednesday after I have eaten my body weight in sushi and gone through every store at the Eaten Centre. There will also be more Buffalo band interviews to come, its just really hard to think of good questions and not embarrass myself (regardless of what your teacher told you in the 2nd grade...THERE IS such a thing as a stupid question).

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