Sarah’s Spots: Exploring Toronto’s Live Music Venues
The Velvet Underground
508 Queen St. W.
Located along Queen West's entertainment avenue, Velvet is a dingy shell of a venue whose only accessories include a lone disco ball and a handrail bar that runs along the edges of the single, long room that faces the raised stage at the back. The box office is located right inside the door, and is typically heavily manned with at least two of the half dozen or so beefy security guards the Velv employs to keep the peace (overkill, I should think, for such a low-key, intimate venue but, hey,-—it’s their money, and it does keep out the cheap bastards that try to skirt a $5-10 cover).
In spite of its dismal decor, this venue is great for seeing upbeat entertainers who love to put on an interactive show. Its wide-open space is perfect for artists that make you want to dance or rock out hard. The sound is loud but surprisingly doesn't echo as much as one might have guessed based on the space’s set-up. Overall, the acoustics exceeded my expectations set upon walking in. That said, this is a venue where the acoustics can easily be ruined by a measly crowd - so if you’re planning on coming out to a show, do your part to support local music and make sure it gets sweaty by bringing some friends along!
Words to the Wise:
Bring cash! It's a cash-only bar so unless you want to pay the exorbitant ATM fees, bring enough cash to last you through the night.
Watch your step! This is NOT a venue to get wobbly-drunk at: the steps to the bathrooms are steep and poorly lit and the back quarter of the main (read: only) room is raised a foot above the rest, creating the perfect opportunity for your face to get acquainted with the scuffed up, sticky floor.
Wear comfortable shoes! There is no seating available at Velvet, so this is not the place to try out those cute new shoes. Besides, it will be cave-like dark, no one will notice what you’re wearing unless it happens to be sparkly enough to reflect off the disco ball (in which case, I’d advise you to rethink your choice of attire anyways).
My Rating: 3.5 / 5. For the right kind of show, and with the right kind of crowd, this is a great little spot to see a live set.
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