Five alternative music venues to visit in Ontario

Whether or not it’s your first visit to Ontario, you’ll probably know of the province’s iconic music venues. In Canada, there are few places better to see live performances, especially in the capital city of Toronto. It’s here where you’ll find Massey Hall, which has played host to everyone from Bob Dylan to Justin Bieber.

But away from the big-name venues – including the likes of The Danforth Music Hall and Lee’s Palace – where can you see unsigned bands, avant-garde artists, and alternative music? In other words, where can you experience an evening with a difference?

Hugh’s Room Live

30 St Patrick St, Toronto

Supporting jazz musicians is what Hugh’s Room Live is all about. Here you’ll get the chance to see some very talented people from Toronto and further afield. From seasoned veterans to those playing live for the first time, the venue provides a supportive structure to those who take to the stage. You never know, you might see the next big thing in Jazz here.

OLG Stage

6380 Fallsview Blvd, Niagara Falls

The new OLG Stage at the Fallsview resort in Niagara Falls has played host to a range of top bands including Billy Idol, Tom Jones, and The Lumineers. But there’s so much more to enjoy here thanks to the resort’s array of restaurants, shopping and entertainment, including digital golf. There are also over 3,000 slot machines on the resort’s 200,000-square-foot gaming floor. If you’re new to these types of games, here’s a great place to get started online at the top-rated platforms you can play at, and take advantage of welcome bonuses to get familiar with slots, before trying your hand at a real machine.

Lula Lounge

1585 Dundas St W, Toronto

Lula Lounge favors Latin styles with salsa dancing and world music acts. However, there’s always a good mix of artists adorning the stage every week. You’ll get to sample everything from bachata and reggaeton to Brazilian, jazz and hip-hop. There are even some classical concerts from time to time. A lively atmosphere and great food make Lula Lounge a must-see when in Toronto.

Red Bird

1165 Bank St, Ottawa

Host to local bands and solo artists, Red Bird is building upon its notoriety as a venue for up-and-coming musicians in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa. A fully stocked bar and small stage means you can relax in an intimate, friendly atmosphere, listening to a range of soft rock styles from Americana and Bluegrass to folk and country.

Tranzac Club

292 Brunswick Ave, Toronto

This 200-seat venue is well known to local music fans for giving a platform to new singer-songwriters. In its Southern Cross Lounge, you’ll find live music most nights of the week. It’s an eclectic mix, too. Improvised jazz and avant-garde performances are combined with more traditional bluegrass, pop, and electronica. There’s even an open mic night.

Lots of choices

When U2 at Massey Hall is just a bit too mainstream, we’ve got you covered. Our choices provide plenty of food for thought if you want to see a music event with a difference or are tempered by a venue that has put its own unique spin on live performance.

Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites. Email: