In the last few years, Toronto received a bit of a reputation.
In a good way, of course.
For those who have outgrown the loud and overly intoxicated entertainment district that many early 20s look forward to every Friday, Toronto has a thriving music scene with venues that live up to the hype.
The Guardian dubbed Toronto as one of the best places to be a musician and New York Times vocally announced that Toronto was “having a Seattle moment”.
As a proud Torontian, without a doubt the city is diverse not only in its population but also in its music offerings. As residents, we can see huge international talents one night of the week and up and coming local acts in countless Toronto venue options.
Most of these gems around the city are located in and around the West end specifically, Roncesvalles.
Check out the list below of top venues in Toronto’s West End.
If there’s one word to describe Cadillac, it’s retro eclectic. The venue hosts all types and doesn’t discriminate – country, trivia nights, burlesque acts, you name it. Their acts are surely to impress during large-scale events such as Canadian Music Week or on an average Saturday night when you’re looking for a live band.
It’s a fact: everyone loves Dakota Tavern. If you’re a fan of folk, country, or blues – you are in for a treat. Open and busy during any day of the week (Blues Tuesdays!), Dakota attracts a thriving scene. Tip: Leave your phone at home – the venue is located downstairs with no signal, forcing you to actually talk to your company.
If you want a casual jazz and blues evening with an extensive drink list, this place is for you. A Roncesvalles treat for the locals, you’re bound to run into your West-end area neighbours while enjoying a cozy atmosphere.
The tagline reads, “Toronto’s premier live music venue since 2002” and well, they’re telling the truth. The MOD Club is on a larger side that welcomes slightly better known acts around and outside of the city. Check the schedule as the venue is a hub for every type of music. If you’re really feeling like making a night of it, after live music shows The MOD Club turns into a dancing floor outside of the entertainment district chaos.
A small stage located in one of the oldest hotels in Toronto that welcomes relaxed rock tunes to compliment your brunch or Friday night karaoke to compliment your inner rock star. Whatever the occasion, the venue is always full so get there early.
You will recognize Lee’s Palace from miles away by its hip crowd outside and graffiti mural done by Toronto’s well known local artist Al Runt. What used to be a former movie theatre is now one of Toronto’s established live music venues that host secret shows for bands such as Mumford & Sons and in the past, beer bottle smashing Kurt Cobain of Nirvana.
This venue opened in 2009 and has been bustling ever since. When the venue opened, a local well respected artist booker from Sneaky Dee’s migrated over to The Garrison ensuring a great start from the beginning. The venue has been going strong confirming that Toronto’s indie music scene is dominating the West End.
Not My Dog
Nightly music venue with a vintage vibe (could it be the arcade machine?) This cozy bar is a favourite among locals and is located in the heart of Parkdale.