In Toronto, there are a ton of great venues of all kinds of different sizes. It’s really not surprising, as Toronto is the biggest city in Canada. The only city here that has more concerts than us is Montréal, the metal capital of Canada and our unofficial cultural centre. Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time in various different venues all across Toronto, and by far, the one that stands out to me is the Danforth.
The Danforth was built in 1919, though not as a music venue. Its original purpose was actually to be an upscale movie theatre- “Canada’s First Super-Suburban Photoplay Palace”. It was called Allen’s Danforth at the time, until it was bought out by Famous Players and renamed the Century. In the ’60s, after yet another ownership change, the theatre became a Greek language movie theatre and was renamed the Titania Theatre.
The Danforth was not a music venue until the late ’70s, when its fate as a music hall was sealed following another name change to- creatively enough- The Music Hall. But the building, being as old as it is, had many issues, including many leaks in the roof, which anyone who went to a show at the Danforth back then would be able to talk about. It was a bit of an infamous problem. The Danforth actually had so many problems that it was closed down in 2004. A year and a half would pass before it was to be fixed and re-opened.
The history of the Danforth is an interesting story in and of itself, and when you enter the building, it is obvious that it was not built for the purposes of being a music venue. For instance, the interior is ornately decorated. Perhaps my favourite thing about this venue is that the floor is slanted in a way characteristic of a theatre. Though there are no chairs anymore, the floor is slanted so that those standing in the back can easily see the stage. The slant is also not quite obvious enough to be a disturbance to those who would rather spend time in the pit.
I always buy floor tickets–GA or go home–but a reason why many of my friends also love the Danforth is that you can buy a balcony ticket and still go down to the floor whenever you want. In other words, you can reserve a seat and use it at your leisure (so I’ve heard).
In recent years I’be seen a surge in the Danforth’s popularity among bands. Bands are now playing at the Danforth far more frequently than at venues such as the Sound Academy or the Opera House, which I’m definitely happy about.