OCAD students are in the vanguard of the crossover between the indie art and music scenes in this city, so the Dundas and McCaul campus is like the nexus from which tons of cool cultural happenings ripple out like, er, concentric circles in a Jasper Johns painting.
The Queen West club strip lies immediately south of OCAD, offering a veritable bonanza of rock action. Kids in the Hall and the Barenaked Ladies both started out in the back room of the Rivoli (332 Queen West, 416-596-1908) these days you’ll find eclectic pop bands like Birds of Wales and the grassroots funk-hop of Rhythmicru there among other nightly alt-music and comedy acts.
The venerable Horseshoe (370 Queen West, 416-598-4753), one of the city’s best live music venues, may be famous for its secret Stones gigs, but it’s also the place Franz Ferdinand and Interpol played their first T.O. shows. And Tuesday nights, local personality Rob Bowman throws no-cover indie music nights that feature pretty rad bands.
Just past Spadina on Queen, you’ll hit the Cameron House (408 Queen West, 416-703-0811), a holdover from the 80s heyday of the Queen West scene. It’s great for seeing classic country outfits while sipping a pint on a Sunday afternoon.
If you like your music more hardcore, travel further west, where you’ll find Funhaus (529 Queen West, 416-703-4999), the Bovine Sex Club (542 Queen West, 416-504-4239) and the Big Bop complex, which houses both the Reverb and the Kathedral (651 Queen West, 416-504-0744) — all venues that lean toward the metal, punk, industrial and otherwise thunderous side of the spectrum.
OCAD students naturally gravitate to the recycled bohemia of Kensington Market, another surefire destination for live entertainment. Punk outlet Planet Kensington may be gone, but there’s still Supermarket (268 Augusta, 416-840-0501), the Asian fusion tapas restaurant-cum-venue where DJ John Kong books acts from his hiphop, jazz, funk and soul-skewed Do Right! label and more.
And boasting eclectic decor dear to an art student’s heart, the Boat (158 Augusta, 416-593-9218) is a former seafood shack that’s been transformed into a left-field live club.