Every musician needs a stage, and Toronto’s got plenty to offer. Whether you’re in search of an audience or simply looking for a free concert, we’ve got five open mic spots in the city that you can’t miss.
Free Times Cafe — 320 College Street
For Performers Who: Are New to Open Mic
Vibe: Free Times is the perfect spot for those looking to ease into the open mic circuit. The cafe’s intimate performance space is tucked away behind the bar, and home to a small but overwhelmingly supportive crowd. Regulars tend to ask about your songs’ meanings and take genuine interest in your performance, making this an ideal place to workshop new music.
Room & Equipment: A decent keyboard, acoustic guitar, and microphone are about all that are provided, but the cozy room creates a welcoming environment.
When: Mondays @ 7pm.
Grossman’s Tavern — 379 Spadina Avenue
For Performers Who: Want to Lead a Band
Vibe: Need help nailing a cover song? Looking to add a saxophone solo to your original? Grossman’s has an in-house band that’ll have your back. They’ve got an encyclopedic knowledge of classic rock hits, and will even learn your own songs so long as you run them through the chord progressions.
Room & Equipment: Grossman’s audio equipment is concert quality, and the house band makes sure there’s no way you’ll sound bad.
When: Once monthly @ 8pm. Check their website for a full schedule.
The Cavern — 76 Church Street
For Performers Who: Want to Collaborate
Vibe: The Cavern’s weekly Open Mic Night & Jam is one of the best ways to meet likeminded musicians in the city. Performers from varying skill levels and musical backgrounds are encouraged to come out and jam, whether they play the tenor sax or tambourine.
Room & Equipment: The Cavern is more spacious than it seems from outside, and the bricked-wall aesthetic makes you feel like you’re in a time capsule from 1960s Liverpool.
When: Sundays and Tuesdays @ 8pm.
The Drake Hotel’s Poetry Slam — 1150 Queen Street West
For Performers Who: Want to Compete
Vibe: Twice a month, The Drake hosts a spoken word poetry contest where the city’s best poets can duke it out battle of the bands style. Unlike other venues on this list, instruments and cover songs are strictly banned, meaning performance here is all about content and delivery.
Room & Equipment: You won’t need any instruments, but the atmospheric Drake Hotel is a great host for art enthusiasts.
When: Twice a month @ 8pm. Check their website for a full schedule.
Supermarket — 268 Augusta Avenue
For Musicians Who: Want A Crowd
Vibe: Thanks to a beautiful concert room and large turnout rates, Sundays at the Supermarket feel like the big leagues of Toronto open mic. Its location in Kensington Market draws in a diverse roster of performers that always bring unique sounds and stories to the stage.
Room & Equipment: The dimly lit back room feels like an old music club, and there’s dedicated staff on mixing duty to ensure you sound like a million bucks.
When: Sundays @ 8pm.
Feature photo courtesy of The Cavern via Facebook.