There’s a lot to love about the amount of quality musical acts that come to our great city. If you’ve been to many, or even just a few – you’re likely to have visited some of the special historic venues that Toronto has to offer. If not, I urge you to read on to learn more about them.
Live music is my favourite form of entertainment. I’ve been to countless concerts over the years, but it all changed when I first went to a smaller show. I think it’s important to sometimes venture beyond the big acts that fill huge venues like the ACC, Rogers Centre, or Molson Amphitheatre. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a ton of fun to be had at any concert, but there’s something unique about a smaller, more intimate venue. On top of that, they usually don’t charge as much as the big places!
Let’s pretend for a second that I can actually cook. I’m trying to make a “perfect concert” recipe, and it looks something like this:
Start with a small to medium-sized venue ADD One of your favourite bands (on the cusp of mainstream popularity) ADD A beverage or two of choice ADD Great company LEAVE OUT The big venue fans who wait all set for that one or two hit song to play Put it all together = 🤘
That was definitely kind of lame. I thought it would be cool. Anyways, the point is; a small sized venue is a huge part of what I consider to be the perfect concert atmosphere. Let’s move on to the list.
If you know these venues already, or think they’re obvious suggestions – I apologize. Hopefully you can at least enjoy the pictures.
#1 – Massey Hall
I think it’s fair to say that Massey Hall really needs no introduction. Anyone with a sense of music in Toronto knows the place. They even call themselves “Canada’s most important venue for concerts and lectures” here. It was opened in 1894 and has been renovated a number of times to be seen as it stands today. What I love most about Massey Hall is how it perfectly clings to its history while also providing a perfect concert venue to hold any type of show. I did also find that Justin Bieber did a surprise Christmas concert at the venue in 2011 and the show sold out in under 30 minutes, so that’s cool. One thing for certain, Massey Hall will leave you stunned with views like these:
They also have this kick-ass film & video series that shows recording of live acts that have performed over the past couple years. Definitely worth checking out.
#2 – Adelaide Hall
Small but unique, Adelaide Hall is a great space for a concert or any type of event. Renovated and redesigned in 2015, they’ve done a stellar job capturing the look and vibe of a modern recording studio. Just take a look:
It’s a really versatile space, and they make the most of it by hosting a pretty impressive list of events. Check out the variety showcased on their website.
If I had ranked this list, this would probably be my #1. The Danforth Music Hall was originally built as a movie theatre in 1919. It wasn’t actually considered to be a music venue until much later, and didn’t take on the existing name until 2011. My favourite part of the Danforth is that it actually still resembles a movie theatre. The lobby is very narrow, so you’ll likely be crowded on your way in – but the high ceiling and wide stage make for a great set-up. Take a look at the pictures below:
#4 – The Great Hall
Built between 1889-1890, the Great Hall began as a YMCA. Over the years, it was eventually transformed into a music and speaking venue. Just this year, it received major renovations. Some of the major acts to perform at the Great Hall are Sonic Youth, City & Colour, Feist, Metric, and Sloan. (thegreathall.ca) Imagine seeing one of your current favourite acts in a small place like this? 💯
Take a look at some of The Great Hall’s upcoming acts using the Calendar on their website.
#5 – Echo Beach
Consider this one an honorable mention. I know it’s nothing like the others but I saw a show here this fall for the first time and it’s one of the best outdoor venues I’ve been to. The stage, the sand and the view are all quality. I found it to be a little different from the neighbouring Amphitheatre because it feels more open. More like a festival, less like a concert. The venue holds just 5,000 so you’re guaranteed to get up-close and personal with the act. Plus, how about this view of the city:
If there’s one takeaway from this post, I hope that it’s simply to explore what’s out there. Music is great, concerts are fun, and it should be our duty to take full advantage of how lucky we are to have these great spaces in our city.
If you agree/disagree, or think I missed some place key – drop a comment and be sure to let me know. Thanks for reading!