With one of the most vibrant music scenes in the country, Toronto music fans can catch a show any night of the week at a variety of venues dotted all over the city. Venues come in all shapes and sizes, but as most would agree, there’s something magical about an intimate show. Here are my top 5 small venues in Toronto. Let us know what your favourite small venue with a big reputation is in the comments below.
The Horseshoe Tavern
The legendary Horseshoe Tavern is one of Toronto’s most revered and historic music venues. With a capacity of 400. The venue has hosted the likes of The Rolling Stones, Joel Plaskett, The Strokes, Gord Downie, The Ramones, and so many more. It’s also a great spot for local music so if you are looking for local bands on the brink…The Horseshoe is your spot any day of the week.
The Dakota Tavern
One of the greatest venues on the planet in my opinion. The Dakota is a great folksy, country, bluesy bar in the basement of what looks like a Legion hall. The Dakota only books the best and you are always in for a treat. They also host CMT’s The Dakota Sessions. Check out Lindi Ortega at The Dakota:
If you are lucky…you will also be entertained outside The Dakota by John B: The Portuguese Mad Rapper who frequently busks outside if you can call it that. I shot this video a couple years ago.
Cameron House is another great one on Queen West. The front room is tiny but that is where most bands would prefer to play even though the stage is the size of a fridge box. The Cameron House also has a back room that is bigger and sounds incredible.
Bring on the Kings Crown Nachos and then head upstairs for a rock and roll adventure. The one the only…Sneaky Dee’s. The graffiti, food, and music venue…what is not to love? Check out Ben Caplan in this Sneaky Dee’s hot sauce eating contest with Toronto band The Balconies providing the soundtrack.
The Painted Lady
One of my faves is The Painted Lady on Ossington. It is a tiny venue that only fits 150 people but the sound and feel of the room is incredible. On the weekend they even have a burlesque dancer on the bar. I was in the audience for this Sidney York NXNE show.