From the Rolling Stones’ secret El Mocambo show to Nirvana hitting the stage at The Opera House in 1991, and more recently the Tragically Hip’s three-night stand at the Air Canada Centre last August, Toronto has hosted its share of iconic music moments.
Toronto is a Music City. The city’s produced a great deal of talent and it’s always a tour stop when the biggest names in the world hit the road. Through good times and bad, Toronto music enthusiasts have been filing into clubs and arenas to catch the latest buzz bands and veteran acts alike.
Toronto concert goers know how to navigate the scene, here’s how to find out if you fit the bill.
You remember when Lee’s Palace had a lower stage
Lee’s Palace is one of the most instantly recognizable venues in North America, due in large part to the outstanding work by mural designer Al Runt. The Bloor Street live music club also features some of the best sight lines around thanks to its five-foot high stage. There was a time when the stage was lower.
You know the best place to stash your coat at Sneaky Dee’s is behind the speakers
Sneaky Dee’s is often the place to be for the best local and visiting punk artists. Real heads know the best place to ditch your outerwear is behind the speakers.
You remember Flash Lightnin’ as the Wednesday night house band at the Dakota Tavern
Flash Lightnin’ made a name for themselves rocking the Dakota Tavern to its core every Wednesday night for years. The band was once again enlisted to help celebrate the Ossington basement bar’s 10th anniversary in December of 2016.
If you’re over 6-feet tall you know to avoid the balcony at Massey Hall
Front-centre balcony might be one of the best places to take in a show at Toronto’s iconic Massey Hall. Don’t go messing up the sight lines for others, tall people!
You never get lost on your way to the washrooms at the Horseshoe Tavern
Without fail, someone in your concert going group gets lost on their way to the washrooms at the Horseshoe Tavern. Be a pal and educate your crew on the route to relief.
You’ve caught a show at CineCycle
This laneway locale off Spadina Avenue is best known as an underground cinema and bike repair shop, but if you’re one of the lucky ones who’s caught an up-and-coming band there then you’ve definitely bragged about the intimate experience.
Your friends showed up to meet at the wrong beer stand at Danforth Music Hall
You got satellite bars stage left and stage right, always clarify that you’re facing the stage.
You’ve hit Sneaky Dee’s early for Kings Crown Nachos prior to a show
Never hit the pit on an empty stomach. The truly seasoned concert goer knows you gotta load up with some legendary Kings Crown nachos, piled high with frijoles, ground beef, tomatoes, onions, mixed peppers, jalapenos, melted cheese, topped with guacamole and sour cream.
You’ve referred to Masonic Temple as ‘Concert Hall’
The six-story building on Yonge Street, just north of Bloor, has been standing for over 100 years. Prior to housing MTV for several years it served as The Concert Hall for many years. Your grandparents may know it as The Rock Pile.
You know the difference between the Black Box and The Great Hall
The Great Hall has quickly become one of the city’s best spots to catch a show, but you have to know the difference between the Black Box and the Great Hall proper. The Black Box is the former theatre centre, while the Great Hall is the wide open historic space upstairs.
You’ve avoided the rotating hand towel at Lee’s Palace
Lee’s Palace scores a 10/10 in most areas from most veteran Toronto concert goers, who all know to wear dark pants because you’ll want to use them to dry your hands eventually.
You actually miss The Rockit
The Rockit shuttered operations several years ago, but chances are if you ever attended a performance there you have cultivated some unforgettable, often bizarre memories there. The cramped space offered a great deal of intimacy, while also serving as an oven of sorts during summer months. RIP, Club Rockit, you were certainly something.
You’ve never missed an early start at Danforth Music Hall or The Mod Club
Sure, we’ve all showed up for a show shortly after doors open only to stand around and wait for the opener for a couple hours. Don’t sleep on start times at the Danforth Music Hall or the Mod Club, call times come at you fast.
You’ve fended off a bout of hunger via the A&W window inside The Horseshoe
When it comes to innovation, sometimes it’s the simplest things that are effective. When an A&W restaurant opened up next to the legendary Horseshoe Tavern the venue ostensibly punched a whole in the wall and allowed its customers to place orders for burgers and fries all hours of the night.
You’ve hit shows at all three venues in the now defunct Big Bop
The Big Bop closed its doors in 2010 after nearly 20 years of operation. It was a great spot during festivals like Canadian Music Week and North By Northeast, when you could climb up and down the stairs to catch acts in Kathedral, The Reverb, and Holy Joe’s all in one night.
You know you can always find Molson Stock Ale at the Horseshoe and Lee’s Palace
It’s only sold in 24 packs and can rarely be found in the city’s various bars and nightclubs. The iconic anchor labeled beer can always be had at the Horseshoe Tavern and Lee’s Palace, though.
You’ve received more than 3 high fives from Indie88 street team members at shows in Toronto
What are you waiting for, they’re just giving them away?