The 4 Best Music Venues In Toronto For A Newcomer



Toronto can be an amazing city, with so much to offer. It can also be expensive, overwhelmingly big, and daunting.

There’s so much to do, it’s hard to choose. I’ve found that scoping out small, but popular music venues, with weekly lineups, can be a great alternative to hitting up the bars and clubs every week. The people there are open to meeting new music lovers, the beer is cold and cheap, and while I can’t promise you won’t encounter pretentious hipsters, the music and atmosphere will likely drown out their cries for PBR.

Lee’s Palace

Lee’s is a fan favourite, and I’m partial to it because I can literally drag my butt over to its Annex location in less than 10 minutes.

Often Lee’s will get some bigger indie rock names like The Sheepdogs and the show will sell out fast, and cost a little more than the usual 6-10 dollars, but most other nights it’s a sure thing if you’re itching to listen to some decent tunes. The last show I saw at Lee’s was the all female Weezer cover band, Sheezer and it was an awesome time.

The band had the whole crowd singing along, and the crowd was receptive of the cheesy but incredibly fun vibe. Another pro about Lee’s? The upstairs Dance Cave! If you get tired of swaying back and forth, slowly sipping your beer downstairs, you can head upstairs to the dance cave for a completely different experience without even leaving the building!

It’s usually sweaty and crowded, but not too loud that you can’t hear yourself think, or have a conversation with the person next to you, and if you meet someone you like, you can always pop back downstairs for the venue’s less frenetic crowd.

Dakota Tavern

I ended up at the Dakota Tavern one night in pursuit of a boy. I was completely new to the city and at some bar that had played “Fergalicious” and “Let’s Get It Started” in the first 30 minutes of getting there, so an invitation to leave was welcomed.

Walking down the steps into the Dakota was like walking into a Zooey Deschanel music video. The lights, the piano, and even the only slightly risen stage, makes the venue intimate, a little country, and completely endearing and lovable.

Not knowing who the band is makes it that much more of a discovery, and I highly recommend attending the Staff Pick’s Tuesday Nights. You’ll get a good array of music, and it means you can save your Friday nights for Ferge, if that’s your thing.

The Cameron House

The Cameron House has a long history in the Queen West community, and will give you great insight into a particular area of Toronto that never fails to be cool and charming.

The Cameron House is a place to check out at least once, if not for the music, than at least for its murals, which you can learn more about on their website. Coming to the Cameron is like walking into a bar where you know everyone, even if you don’t.

From now until December 28th you can catch the Kirsten Scholte and The Fancys every Wednesday 6-8pm; the perfect midweek venue to unwind after work.

KIRSTEN SCHOLTE & THE FANCYS – Blue-eyed Baby from Mitch Fillion ( on Vimeo.

The Mod Club

If you can’t stand the sight of plaid, and the sound of the banjo makes your ears bleed, than I suggest you ignore all 3 of my previous suggestions. While I’m an indie-rock girl at heart, I’ve opened my ears to plenty of electro-house music, and The Mod Club is the place to be if you’re looking to dance your face off, and be surrounded by people looking to do the same.

My last experience at Mod was when I saw Sydney Blu, and the girl rocked the house. With the crowd completely packed, the set continued way into the late hours of the evening.

You can go any regular weekend without a big headliner, and although the crowd may be smaller, you’re still going to get a solid group of dedicated electro dancers.

Feel like I’ve been missing out on some great venues? Don’t agree with my choices? Feel free to rant and rave in the comments below.


Spud at 14 Jan 2012

You have shed a ray of sunsihne into the forum. Thanks!

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