Halloween 2019: Toronto’s best parties and concerts

Promise, Dudebox, TIFF, Dan Burke, Hotnuts, CATL, Do Right! Music, Silver Snail and Extinction Rebellion are getting spooky this year


Spooky Vibez II

Local non-profit collective Posi Vibez is throwing its second annual fundraiser spooky drag party, with drag king ZacKeyLime hosting and drag sets by Anne Alien and Ms. Disco Galore. Sachay towards the late-night noise set by Poster Boy and dance to tunes spun by the FranDiscos.

Saturday (October 19) at Handlebar (159 Augusta), 9 pm. $5-$10.  

Chronologic Halloween: Storming Area 51

For the past decade and a half, Goin’ Steady DJs Louis Calabro and Matt Cully have put on one of Toronto’s best Halloween parties, and for the 15th anniversary, they’re promising their scariest one yet. For the uninitiated, Chronologic is a dance party through the decades, playing songs from 1890 to 2019 in chronological order. Come in costume, whether it’s of an alien being held hostage by the American government or a valiant raider ready to storm a military base. Or come in a costume not associated with an internet meme, it’s up to you.

Friday (October 25) at the Garrison (1197 Dundas West), 10 pm. $5-$10. garrisontoronto.com.

DDBX is Fucking Dead X

Dudebox has lost its vowels, but it’s still putting on its annual Halloween throwdown and celebrating a decade this year. Like always it’ll be at a giant venue that’s not usually a venue (and that won’t be announced until the last minute) with huge sound, trippy visuals and global rhythms spun by local DJs who will keep the room fucking alive, actually: Nino Brown, Kuruza, New Currency, James Redi, Jon Chetty, Black Friend and more. One hundred per cent of the profit will go to Rise Tribe and Cannabis Amnesty. 

Saturday (October 26) at location TBA, 9 pm. From $11. universe.com.

Promise Halloween

Promise, the folks behind summer’s weekly Cherry Beach parties, don’t need to be outdoors to throw a good-vibes rager. This year they’re taking over the massive Lithuanian House complex with two stages, trippy visuals, balloons, vegetarian food, art, photobooths, lots of spooky corners and a stacked list of DJs both local and touring. The lineup includes SHYBOI, LEEON, Raf Reza, Sierra, Subtle Planes, Astroboy and a lot more. 

Saturday (October 26) at Lithuanian House (1573 Bloor West), 10 pm. $40-$50. tix.ilovepromise.com/halloween.

Snailoween

After taking over the Toronto Reference Library last year, comic shop the Silver Snail heads west to throw its annual cosplay bash in a less literary locale: the garage-like pop-up spot on Ossington formerly known as Ossington Tire. This year’s event promises “thousands of dollars in prizes,” carnival games and themed-selfie stations.

Saturday (October 26) at 146 Ossington, 8 pm. $30-$50. universe.com.

Sissy: Bloodbath

Underground queer scene promoters RUDE Collective aren’t messing around for their first Halloween bash. The theme is heavy – think leather, rubber, whips – and ballroom MC Twysted Miyake-Mugler will host a Blade-themed runway competition – so get your R-rated superhero looks ready. DJs Myst Milano, Babygirl and Vaughn are on the decks and burlesque act Mahogany Storm will perform.

Saturday (October 26) at Luanda House (1474 St. Clair West), 10 pm. $10. eventbrite.ca.

Amy Douglas

New York singer Amy Douglas performs at drag party Hotnuts Halloqween at the Garrison on October 26.

Hotnuts Halloqween 

Dust off your favourite platforms: the west-end drag party returns for a one-off party with a streaming costume theme – Streamed Buns. In-demand Brooklyn singer Amy Douglas, who’s becoming a big presence in house/disco lately thanks to collabs with Horse Meat Disco, The Juan Maclean, Justin Strauss and Luke Soloman that span Philly soul, deep house and funk, will take the stage. DJs das hussy and Buzz will also take the decks.

Saturday (October 26) at the Garrison (1197 Dundas West), 10:30 pm. $15 before 11:30 pm, $20 after.

CATL’s 5th Annual Halloween Spooktacular

This local foot-stomping blues duo comes alive at this time of year. This will be the band’s fifth consecutive Halloween party at Dakota Tavern, but that’s just consecutive – they’ve done it more times non-consecutively. They always bring it when it comes to costumes, but there’s also a costume contest for those not on stage. DJ Swankenstein will spin spooky tunes while Nashville’s Shake It Like A Caveman will be, in Catl’s words, a “one-man-boogie-monster.”

Saturday (October 26) at Dakota Tavern (249 Ossington), 10:30 pm. $12, adv $10. eventbrite.ca.

TSO Symphony Spooktacular

The scariest part of horror movies is always the soundtrack, so why not hear the Toronto Symphony Orchestra perform some hair-raising classical music? As part the TSO’s Young People’s Concerts, this family-friendly, one-hour performance will feature Wagner’s Ride Of The Valkyries from Die Walküre, Stravinsky’s Infernal Dance Of King Katschei from The Firebird, and of course, the modern-day classic, John Williams’s shark theme from Jaws. 

Sunday (October 27) at Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe), 2 and 4 pm. $28-$41 tso.ca.

The Undead South

Saskatchewan string band The Dead South are getting into the spooky spirit, sprucing up their every-day-is-old-west dress with zombie makeup and blood on their show-poster. Theyll be celebrating the release of their new album Sugar & Joy with local banjo enthusiasts Elliott Brood. Expect costumes and hoedowns. 

Thursday, October 31 at the Phoenix Concert Theatre (410 Sherbourne), doors 7 pm. $30-$45. ticketfly.com, rotate.com, soundscapesmusic.com.

Do Funk Halloween

Do Right! Music and Nu Funk are teaming up for the grooviest party this Halloween (and likely the one with the most people dressed as Prince). Nine-piece Toronto 1970s funk, soul, psych and hip-hop throwbacks The Soul Motivators will play, while virtuoso turntablist will also spin some records. DJs John Kong and Quesquescest will also hold it down. 

Thursday, October 31 at Supermarket (268 Augusta), doors 7 pm, $15, eventbrite.ca.

Chruch Street Halloween 2.jpg

Halloween on Church x Extinction Rebellion

The Church-Wellesley Village BIA’s annual street party takes over six blocks for what’s basically a de facto Pride party. But this year, there’s a twist: activist group Extinction Rebellion Toronto is planning a climate action-themed improvised skit called Vampires vs. The People during the festivities. The group has put a call out for performance volunteers, who can gather at Barbara Hall Park (519 Church) at 8:30 pm to get briefed and warm-up for the 9 pm action.

Thursday, October 31 on Church (Carlton to Gloucester). 6 pm. Free. churchwellesleyvillage.ca.

Covers in a Dangerous Time

The music at this show isn’t overtly spooky or ghostly, but Halloween is a fine enough excuse to go see a bunch of local musicians performing in DEVO, Bikini Kill, X and Nico cover bands. (At the very least, we’ve got high expectations for the DEVO costumes.) There will also be a costume contest with prizes from Venus Fest, the Beguiling, Telephone Explosion, Pleasance Records and more – so don’t just phone it in with a pair of cat ears.

Thursday, October 31 at the Baby G (1608 Dundas West), 8 pm. $12. thebabyg.com.

Costumed Massacre Spooktacular

The Garrison’s massive “ghoulish gala” boasts a slew of Toronto bands, including the zigzagging indie pop band Luge, Girls Rock Camp alums Hex, Crazy Bones, Your Grandad, Uncola, Tort and barbershop trio The Vinyl Vixens. Comedy is also a big part of the night with local comedians taking the stage, including host Zack Hayward. Come in costume and get ready to brave various art installations, including the ominously named Cavern Of Despair, Hall Of Horrors and Pit Of Terror.

Thursday, October 31 at the Garrison (1197 Dundas West), 8 pm. $10/pwyc. garrisontoronto.com.

Boombox: Heroes vs Villains

If costume ball is more your vibe, TIFF’s annual fundraising bash is happening on Halloween this year. The main draw will be a special performance by artists from Cirque du Soleil’s Alegría: In A New Light, but the rest of the lineup is stacked: the night features dancers Esie Mensah and Snoopy, stand-up comedians Rush Kazi and Jennifer Hsiung and drag performers Sofonda Cox and Jada Hudson.

Thursday, October 31 at TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King West), doors 9 pm.$99-$300. tiff.net/boombox.

MocaWeen

Modern art meets DIY at this first edition in a series of art parties curated by Josh McIntyre and Talvi Faustmann (aka Prince Innocence). MocaWeen will feature a live performance by Montreal’s experimental singer/songwriter Yves Jarvis and sets by DJs Young Teesh & Rosbin. Costumes are highly encouraged, so why not take inspiration from your surroundings and dress up as your favourite Matisse?

Thursday, October 31 at MOCA (158 Sterling Road), 7 pm. $10-$20. showpass.com/mocaween.

Death To T.O #9

Dan Burke’s long-running rock party has now outlived two venues (the Silver Dollar/Comfort Zone) and one premature obituary (two years ago was billed as the final, but it was not). Members of the local music scene team up and get into musical Halloween costumes, dressing up and playing whole sets as other bands. This year you’ll get artists like Madonna, Depeche Mode, The Beastie Boys, Brian Eno, Gorillaz and Celine Dion. And they’ll be played by members of Nyssa, Sauna, Vallens, Dear-God, Paige Peters, Hot Garbage, Witchrot and a lot more. Partial proceeds go to Sistering. 

Friday, November 1 at Lee’s Palace and the Cave (529 Bloor West), doors 8:30 pm. $17. eventbrite.ca.  

@nowtoronto

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