There’s now a virtual compass for discovering local music in Toronto


Published July 9, 2024 at 1:59 pm

music compass toronto

If you’ve been walking down the street in Toronto lately and have seen a QR code on the sidewalk that asks, “Love music?”, it’s not just a rhetorical question.

It’s part of a new virtual music compass in Toronto that connects you to local music destinations in the city with the tap of a button. Simply scan the QR code and you’ll be taken to a list of neighbourhoods, each of which contains a map detailing surrounding music-related businesses.

The project is currently focused on the neighbourhoods of Broadview Danforth, Little Italy, Queen Street West, Bloor-Yorkville, Chinatown and Kensington Market, Ossington and West Queen West, and Little Portugal.

“Toronto is Canada’s largest centre for music and home to hundreds of live music venues and record stores, dozens of music festivals, and thousands of talented artists,” reads the Music Compass page on the Destination Toronto website.

“To celebrate this vibrant music scene, the City of Toronto, in partnership with Destination Toronto, presents Music Compass—a pilot project highlighting local music in select neighbourhoods.”

The Broadview Danforth section of the compass points you to venues Hugh’s Room Live, The Epochal Imp, Noonan’s Pub, Black Swan Tavern and of course the iconic Danforth Music Hall and Opera House, as well as record shops Pop Music and Kops Records.

The Little Italy compass points you to Track & Field Bar, Mrs. Robinson, Revival, Monarch Tavern, Sneaky Dee’s, Nest, drag bar El Convento Rico, listening bar The Little Jerry and store Neurotica Records.

As for Queen Street West, the compass encourages you to dive into classic venues Bovine Sex Club, Cameron House, Horseshoe Tavern, Rivoli and The Rex along with Kissa, Drom Taberna, It’s Ok* Studios, Cosmos Records and Kops Records.

In Bloor-Yorkville, you can follow the compass to Artful Dodger, Koerner Hall, Tranzac, Lee’s Palace, The Pilot, Hemingway’s, The Concert Hall and Jeanne Lamon Hall at Trinity St. Paul’s Centre.

The Chinatown and Kensington Market area has Handlebar, Tapestry, Supermarket, Free Times Cafe, El Mocambo, Grossman’s Tavern, Play de Record and Sonic Boom, and the Ossington and West Queen West area is home to the Drake Underground, The Great Hall, Boogie, Poetry Jazz Cafe, Reposado, Rotate This and The Painted Lady.

Last but not least, Little Portugal boasts tons of places to see live music with The Garrison, Jean Darlene Piano Bar, Bambi’s, Communist’s Daughter, Lula Lounge, Baby G, Sounds Good, Loveless Cafe and BSMT 254 highlighted.

The compass also includes a list of must-see music venues in Toronto with some larger stages like Rogers Centre, Roy Thomson Hall, Budweiser Stage, Massey Hall, Rebel and History.

In addition, the music compass page has a link to upcoming concert listings as well as a playlist with artists like Metric, The Beaches, The Weeknd, Daniel Caesar, Haviah Mighty, Good Lovelies and BAMBII.

The best part is, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to discovering all the great live music, venues and record shops even just in these areas alone, much less the entire city. Whether it’s using this compass or not, there’s always more to explore in Toronto’s music scene.