6 Epic Surprise Shows That Happened In Toronto

Truly once in a lifetime moments

The secret show: a trivial test of the true music nerd. You hear exclusive rumours from fellow fans and make it your mission to wait –no matter how gruelling many hours— come rain or shine. Not only is the secret show worthy of true fandom, it’s also a measure of your knowledge of the city— finding landmarks for clues and insider scoop from the who’s-who of the music industry. If you’re reading this and you’ve been lucky enough to attend one of these secret shows, live us through your special moments in the comments below. Enjoy!

Prince at The Sony Centre

May 19, 2015

Fans lined up around the block at Massey Hall when a fake announcement about a secret show by The Purple One was rumoured to happen back in November 2014. To the fans’ dismay, nothing materialized. And when rumours of another secret Prince show came up just a few months later, fans were skeptical. Thankfully, this time it was for real. The sold out show at the Sony Centre back in May 2015 was a friendly reminder of the electric stage performance of the now late singer. The lucky Toronto fans who happened to catch a glimpse of this legend before his passing will remember this day forever.

The Tragically Hip in Kensington Market

September 30, 2012

A hundred or so fans flocked to Kensington following the band’s last minute show via Twitter. The Tragically Hip played a secret show just outside of The Supermarket to support Now For Plan A back in September 2012. It also just so happened to be the last “Pedestrian Sunday” of the summer in Kensington Market, when part of the neighbourhood is closed for pedestrians only. Gord Downie gave the crowd an electric performance, playing hits like “At Transformation” and “Grace, Too.” A very special moment for Torontonians.

The Rolling Stones at The RPM Club

July 19, 1994

Imagine witnessing legendary pioneers of rock & roll for a measly 5 bucks. The Rolling Stones played the RPM (which later became The Warehouse, then The Guvernment) back in 1994 before kicking off their worldwide Voodoo Lounge tour. Fans sat outside in the blistering heat for 12 hours to catch the top secret show—one of the smallest clubs the Stones have played in Toronto since their 1977 El Mocombo gig. Talk about intimate!

Mumford and Sons at Lee’s Palace

April 3, 2015

With under 24-hours notice Mumford and Son’s graced the stage at Lee’s Palace debuting completely new material off of their yet-to-then-be-released-record, Wilder Mind. To keep their songs top secret, fans were forced to leave their phones at the door. A small price to pay for the once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The Pixies at The Horseshoe Tavern

June 7, 2015

Dirty, rambunctious and loud are some of the words to describe the intimate surprise Pixies show for 450 lucky fans at the Horseshoe Tavern on June 7th of last year. A show with a mere 24 hours notice. The news broke after Robert Plant—set to perform alongside The Pixies at the Molson Amphitheatre— cancelled with little notice due to illness. But these punk legends played anyway. Talk about an unforgettable experience.

Arcade Fire at Danforth Music Hall

June 11 & June 12, 2010

A mysterious tweet by the band back in 2010 followed by Collective Concert’s confirmation was that the Grammy award winners would be gracing The Danforth Music Hall with two back-to-back shows. What a night.

(Main photo by David Bastedo for The Tragically Hip’s Facebook)