Janelle Monae performs a Live concert at Scotiabank Arena

Toronto’s Thriving Live Music & Concert Scene

No matter what style of music gets you moving, you won’t have trouble finding a crowd of similar devotees. 

If live music is your jam, you’ll love the scene in Toronto, rocking out to the hottest local and international acts in Toronto.

Performers including Willie Nelson and The Rolling Stones have performed at the Horseshoe Tavern

Indie up-and-comers

A mainstay of the hip Queen West neighbourhood since before it was hip, The Cameron House  plays host to a variety of local indie acts. Blue Rodeo, Holly Cole, Ron Sexsmith and The Barenaked Ladies have all performed on The Cameron’s stage, in addition to countless smaller bands. Come any night of the week to catch your favourite local band or discover a new one. (Bonus: there’s no cover). 408 Queen St. W.

Just down the street, the legendary Horseshoe Tavern is one of Toronto’s most celebrated performance venues. More than 65 years of operation have seen a lot of famous faces pass through The Horseshoe, including Willie Nelson, The Rolling Stones, The Police and The Ramones. Depending on the night, you can catch anything from indie to country to alt-rock at The Horseshoe. Keep an eye on any acts you see here because they may just become the next big thing. 370 Queen St. W.

With 18,000 sq ft of space spread over two floors, The Phoenix Concert Theatre is one of the city’s largest concert clubs. Death Cab for Cutie, Two Door Cinema Club and Green Day have all entertained enthusiastic crowds here (not to mention legends like Bob Dylan and The Tragically Hip). The Phoenix is one of the key venues during annual music events like Canadian Music Week and NXNE: North By Northeast Festival, which supports independent artists of all stripes. 410 Sherbourne St.

Located right on the Danforth, The Danforth Music Hall is one of the most popular live music venues in the city. This former movie theatre has an inclined floor allowing for great viewing of your favourite band no matter where you stand. Some renowned artists that have graced the stage at Danforth Music Hall are Rihanna, James Brown, The Clash, Alvvays, Hanson, Joel Plaskett and much more! 147 Danforth Ave.

Learn to salsa at the Lula Lounge on Friday and Saturday nights

Sultry latin músicos

¿Te gusta bailar salsa? If the answer is “sí!”, head to Lula Lounge where the live salsa bands are muy caliente. Every Friday and Saturday enjoy salsa dancing to live Latin music while munching on savoury Spanish and South American delicacies. Don’t worry if you’re not a seasoned salsa dancing pro; the city’s top instructors offer lessons on Friday and Saturday nights. 1585 Dundas St. W.

For another fun and lively spot in the west end, try Yauca’s Lounge where authentic Brazilian music is served up in a relaxed atmosphere. 1355 St. Clair Ave. W.

Dinner and dancing are also on the menu at CopcaCabana Brazilian Steakhouse. Here, you can indulge in delectable rodízio-style cuts of meat brought right to your table while taking in the sounds of samba and an aerial performer on Friday and Saturday nights. 230 Adelaide St. W.

The legendary Massey Hall hosts some of the worlds biggest performers

Soulful jazz

Summer may be the high season for jazz in Toronto with the star-studded TD Toronto Jazz FestivalBeaches International Jazz Festival and the newcomer Kensington Market Jazz Festival going on, but you can catch all types of jazz bands at The Rex every night of the week. Part jazz club, part restaurant and part hotel, The Rex is a must-stop spot for any fan. 194 Queen Street West.

A visit to the suave Jazz Bistro with its Instagrammable shiny red Steinway grand piano, should be on any aficionado’s list, too. 251 Victoria Street.

Right in the heart of downtown Toronto, The Reservoir Lounge, is one of Toronto’s most swinging nightspots. The lounge décor and brick-walled interior complement the jumpin’ rhythms from local jazz, blues and R&B musicians. It was at The Reservoir Lounge that a young unknown named Michael Bublé first made a name for himself. 52 Wellington Street East.

There’s no Toronto concert venue more legendary than Massey Hall. This acoustically-rich performance arts theatre is a National Historic Site of Canada that still hosts some of the biggest names in music (jazz, rock, contemporary and beyond). This was the site of the famous one-night-only gig in 1953 that brought Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus and Max Roach together on one stage. 178 Victoria Street. 

Rock out in a unique venue at The Opera House

Hard rockers

Head-bangers, punk rockers and metal-heads can often be found at The Opera House , depending on the night. This midsize concert hall in Riverside offers a unique experience combining state-of-the-art lighting and sound equipment with the charm of its original 1900s vaudeville theatre architecture. 735 Queen St. E.

Lee’s Palace is immediately recognizable from its iconic graffiti mural front. This 100-year-old building is chock-full of gritty charm and hosts live music nearly every night of the week. Canadian rock groups like Moist, Sloan and Our Lady Peace all played Lee’s Palace early in their careers, joining the ranks of international stars like Nirvana, Oasis and Red Hot Chili Peppers. 529 Bloor St. W.

Authentically Toronto, the Dakota Tavern  was nominated for Best Bar and Best Blues Bar by Now Magazine. This saloon-style bar is a throwback to the foot-stomping, whiskey-guzzling days of the Wild West. The music acts vary night by night, but rock, alt-country and bluegrass are its mainstays. 249 Ossington Ave.

Party until sunrise at the CODA

Beat-dropping DJs

Grab a drink and a glowstick and get lost in the techno beats at CODA, where EDM lovers assemble for jaw-dropping dance parties featuring DJs from around the globe. This versatile second-story nightclub is renowned for its fun-fueled all-night parties. Shows tend to sell out quickly so it’s always a good idea to buy tickets in advance. 794 Bathurst St.

No discussion about Toronto’s electronic music scene would be complete without mentioning The Axis Club (formerly The Mod Club). Touring DJs and electronic artists regularly stop in at The Axis Club, where the stage is outfitted for psychedelic light shows, and the dance floor is always happening. 722 College St.

New look, new vibe! With the reopening in 2016, The Velvet Underground has branched out from rock and metal and embraced all kinds of music genres, including EDM DJs. The bigger dance floor provides more room for dancing the night away. 508 Queen St. W.

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