Top Ten Music Venues in Toronto
Toronto has been home to some of the most popular music halls in Canada. Big name bands have gotten their start playing in the city's beautiful rooms. These venues are the reason living in Toronto is so great & since live music is literally the best way to listen to music hands down, we went ahead and saved you some time by selecting the best places to see & hear music in Toronto. From hole-in-the-wall dives to elegant opera theaters, you can catch amazing shows on any given night in the city.
10. The Massey Hall
Opening in 1894, The Massey Hall is practically as old as Toronto itself and still remains one of the city's most iconic venues. The grand, almost cathedral-like interior is stunning and the theatrical layout ensures that no matter where you sit, you can see and hear everything perfectly. Playing host to the semi-mythical legends of music and young emerging artist alike, the old-school charm and character of the building seems to bleed into the performance itself, bestowing upon every performer a certain grandeur, regardless of who they are.
Another aged Toronto icon, The Opera House opened in 1909 as a Vaudeville stage before the genre's popularity wilted and the building was transformed into a theatre, finally becoming the live music venue we know and love today. True to its name, the interior does indeed look like an opera house, albeit one that plays host to a lot of metal. The layout is unusual and highly versatile, offering the chance to get right up close to the stage or watch from a cool distance when it all gets too much. It can get extremely crowded but the ample space always provides room to escape the sweaty crowds. The lighting is pretty spectacular and the acoustics are always decent, no matter where you are. A fun and cheap venue.
A relative newcomer with considerable potential, Adelaide Hall is a little small but with a fantastic vibe and equally fantastic crowd. The layout is interesting, a curved balcony on the second floor offering full view of the action and the first floor an intimate front stage lounge. A wide variety of acts play here and the sound quality is great. Washrooms and bars are conveniently close by so you can grab a drink without missing anything but the alcohol prices are a little steep, so perhaps best stay on the sober side.
A small, dark dancing pit with a deliciously claustrophobic vibe, The Drake Underground is far more cool than the basement of a hotel has any right to be. The famous "Elvis Mondays" offer up free music and free food, while the ticket prices stay steadily under $20 every other night of the week. Excellent sound and lighting, with just enough seating to encourage dancing. There's a lot of focus on locally sourced talent and the unknowns, making it the perfect venue to spot a hidden gem you never knew existed in your neighbourhood.
6. The Mod Club
Capacity 600 Playing everything from local rock to international electronic to hardcore, The Mod Club has a show of some variety guaranteed every night of the week. There's enough capacity here to attract fairly well-known acts and not enough to make the crowd feel overwhelming. The bartenders are lighting-fast and the sound reverberates through every inch of the building. A grungy and dirty venue with a incredible variety of acts and people. Everything a music venue should be, really.
Capacity 500 standing, 250 seated
They call it The Great Hall for a reason. It's a great hall. I'm a sucker for historic old music venues and the interior of The Great Hall is beautiful, rich in character, one of those venues that make the band seem far more important than they really are. There's always a specific event going on here, meaning there are few random walk-ins, which always leads to a perfect atmosphere and crowd. The only problem is the temperature, it quickly becomes an inferno once the crowd get going, meaning you're bound to see more than a few dancers stripping down. Which could be a good or bad thing depending on the crowd, of course.
The legendary Horseshoe Tavern has been around forever and has pretty much anyone who has ever plonked a guitar in this city has played there. It's not a pretty pub and the service isn't great, the sound isn't even particularly great but... it has true character, as all the best dive bars do. It's a Toronto landmark, a place where a million great nights have been experienced, where random people from all walks of life mingle and listen to music together in an unpretentious environment.
3. Lee's Palace
It may sound like a cheap Chinese restaurant but Lee's Palace is one of Toronto's greatest venues, down to a very simple formula. The layout is separated into three areas, the bar, the middle level for sitting/standing and the lowered dance pit right in front of the stage. They accommodate to whatever mood you're in, plus they have cheap beer. That's it. Great audio, great view, great venue. What else do you need?
Capacity 1500 I love this place. Originally a movie theatre built in 1919, it still retains that old cinema cinematic quality. It's renovated so the seats are removable, meaning you can have a seater event or a rock concert/DJ event. It's adaptable and highly stylish. There's even a sloped floor, meaning you always have a great view, no matter how short you are. The acoustics are absolutely fantastic and the staff are known for being extra friendly. The place has that vintage charm that the hipsters love, with a liberal smear of metallic dirty grunge to give it that extra edge. Character in spades.
1. The Phoenix
My favourite venue. Huge ceilings, reverberating sound and a perfect balance between gritty and glossy. There are no less than five bars at The Phoenix, so you can always get a drink in minutes wherever you're standing and quickly rejoin the crowd. The only gripe I have is, occasionally they host an all-ages night, where the under 19's are segregated from the drinking crowd by a metallic gate. This alcoholic apartheid can tone down the liveliness a little by splitting the crowd in half but otherwise it's a perfect venue. High stage, excellent layout and the lighting and sound are always spot on. The large crowd makes for an energetic and epic night, although it gets hellishly hot and the queues are insane. The Phoenix attracts top talent in Toronto and has that gritty, slightly insane vibe that always makes for an unforgettable night.