The best holiday benefit shows in Toronto

From Teenanger to a giant James Taylor singalong with Choir! Choir! Choir!, here's where you can party while supporting a good cause


The live music touring schedule starts to slow down in December (though definitely not stop), but that’s when benefit show season heats up. Local musicians (and a few special guests) band together to raise money, food and awareness for charities, often with a more casual and collaborative vibe than the average concert. So whether you’re a seasoned caroller or can’t stand a single “fa,” “la” or “la,” these shows are well worth your while. Hip-hop, dance parties, folk, garage and punk are all represented. 

BODY LOVE BALL

The 519 (519 Church), December 2, doors 7 pm. $20-$100. bodyconfidencecanada.com/body-love-ball.

Dance and celebrate our bodies at this multidisciplinary fundraiser for 519 Newcomer Settlement Services, Rainbow Camp and Body Confidence Canada Awards. Hosted by Daniel Pillai, Kat Leonard and Talli Osborne, Body Love Ball features live painting, curated art installations, DJs and live music from Vanessa Lu, Tasheka Lavann and Darren Creech. $20 gets you snacks, $50 a gift bag and hors d’oeuvres and $100 open bar and a VIP lounge. The dress code is “Fabulously You.”

RIVERDALE SHARE 25TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT 

Danforth Music Hall (147 Danforth), December 3, doors 2:30 pm. $25 plus a non-perishable food donation. riverdaleshare.com.

The 25th annual Riverdale Share aims to raise over $50,000 plus truckloads of food for families – in one afternoon. Hosted by City of Toronto Music Sector Development Officer Mike Tanner, this year’s performers include folksinger Murray McLauchlan, blues player Danny Marks, Julian Taylor, Masini McDermott, Tim Bovaconti, Kim Stockwood and the Nylons’s Micah Barnes as well as Mia Sheard (a Riverdale-based singer and psychotherapist), the Frankland Junior Choir and more. Clearly the east end knows how to band together for a good cause.

SOULVILLE: AN R&B CABARET

Hugh’s Room Live (2261 Dundas W), December 4, 7:30 pm. $20, adv $15. hughsroomlive.com.

Matt Nethersole, Alana Hibbert, Cleopatra Williams, Stacey Kay, Chris Sams, Tiffany Deriveau, Conor Scully and more perform some of the best songs ever written in support of PFLAG Toronto. 

THE ANDY KIM CHRISTMAS SHOW

Queen Elizabeth Theatre (190 Princes’ Blvd), December 6, doors 7 pm. $25-$40, VIP $150. ticketmaster.ca.

A fundraiser for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s Gifts Of Light program, the 13th annual Andy Kim Christmas Show sees the Sugar Sugar singer and host Seán Cullen joined by an impressive roster of special guests: the Sheepdogs, Ron Sexsmith, Maestro, Hawksley Workman, members of The Strumbellas, Platinum Blonde, Michel Pagliaro, Danny Michel, Choir! Choir! Choir! and more. It’s one of the biggest benefit shows each year. “I look forward to the Andy Kim Christmas Show every year… even more than Christmas itself,” says Ron Sexsmith.

A VERY SPECIAL KRAMPUS PARTY 

The Rec Room (255 Bremner), December 9, 9 pm. $10. rotate.com, soundscapesmusic.com

Krampus is a terrifying horned creature who punishes misbehaving children at Christmas. Placate him by bringing a non-perishable food item for the Fort York Food Bank to this annual fete put on by Buzz Records and Indie 88. The party features Brooklyn power pop band Charly Bliss alongside a solid set of local hook-heavy garage rock bands: Twist, Casper Skulls and Lonely Parade. 

THE WOODEN SKY 8TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY SHOW

918 Bathurst (918 Bathurst), December 13, doors 7:30 pm. $25. universe.com, rotate.com, soundscapesmusic.com.

Toronto folk rockers the Wooden Sky (plus special guests) bring their Dune-inspired fifth album, Swimming In Strange Waters, to their eighth annual Holiday Show ahead of a string of 2018 tour dates. Over seven years, the band has raised $21,000 in support of various local charities. This year’s proceeds go to Romero House, which helps refugee families with resettlement. General admission is $25, but attendees are welcome to donate more. 

HIP-HOP FOOD DRIVE

Smiling Buddha (961 College), December 13-14, 10 pm. $10 or $5 w/ food bank donation item. hiphopfooddrive.com.

For the third year running, CIUT hip-hop show Bring Ya Eh Game gathers a handful of local rappers – CVSS, Patrik, EverythingOShauN, Yoana and DJ Slam – to support Parkdale Community Food Bank. Cans for bars.

T Dots Records Holiday Food Drive 

May Cafe (876 Dundas W), December 16, doors 7 pm. $10. eventbrite.ca.

A diverse night of music, comedy (plus food and drinks) in support of the Daily Bread Food Bank, T Dots’ holiday food drive features jazz, rock and hip-hop artists CoCo Coelho, Ai’ma Khojé, Signs Of a Slumbering Beast, Chris Birkett and more, along with comedian Joey Harlem as MC. Drop off non-perishable food donations between December 1 and 16, show is December 16 at 7 pm.

CHOIR! CHOIR! CHOIR! 25 DAYS OF CHARITY! CHARITY! CHARITY! 

Phoenix Concert Theatre (410 Sherbourne), December 16, doors 7 pm. $25. choirchoirchoir.comuniverse.com

For the second year in a row, local heroes Choir! Choir! Choir! have launched their #25DaysOfCharity fundraiser, which begins December 1 and culminates in a giant singalong of James Taylor’s Shower The People at the Phoenix. For the days leading up to Christmas, the singing group’s website looks like an advent calendar: behind each date, a member of the choir has selected a different charity to support. At the end of the 25 days, the funds are divided evenly among the different organizations. Last year, C!C!C! raised $50,000. 

FUTURE PEERS HOLIDAY GIVE-A-THON

The Baby G (1608 Dundas W), December 28, doors 8 pm. $10. thebabyg.com.

Jittery Toronto indie band Future Peers have put together a charity pizza party, with a lineup including actor-turned electro-pop singer Audrey and DJ Jerk Chicken. All proceeds go to jack.org, and if you bring some non-perishable food items to donate, you can trade them for pizza. 

TEENANGER, PROM NITE, LEE PARADISE

The Baby G (1608 Dundas W), December 29, doors 9 pm. $10 plus a non-perishable food item. thebabyg.com.

Punk bands have always been known to band together to throw a good benefit, and this garagey food drive/fundraiser for Parkdale Community Food Bank is sure to be no exception. 

music@nowtoronto.com | @nowtoronto

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