Getting your rock fix doesn’t necessarily mean attentively watching dudes on stage swing their hair and gyrate with their instruments while you’re forced to scream, “You like this?” into your companion’s ear. There are lots of joints in town that pump rock ’n’ roll through the sound system so you can pay attention to someone other than a wannabe rock star.
In the heart of Little Italy, for instance, in what many view as a cheesy nightclub dead zone, Ted’s Collision (573 College, 416-533-2430) shines like a beacon of denim righteousness. The candlelit haunt has an infamous reputation for cranking the stereo to the likes of Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Nazareth, etc. And when we say crank, we’re not kidding. If you have the audacity to ask them to lower the volume, your request will be met with deaf ears; how those ears became deaf seems quite obvious.
Kensington Market’s reputation for drum circle hippies is belied by the presence of a hard-drinking, hard-rocking bar by the name of Ronnie’s Local 069 (69 Nassau, 416-340-1110). Much like its proletariat name, Ronnie’s caters to rock’s everyman with bartenders who blast a killer mix from Q107 classics to contemporary indie bands like the Constantines, who can be found loitering regularly after rehearsals at their nearby studio.
More on the beaten path are the Bovine Sex Club (542 Queen West, 416-504-4239) and Tattoo Rock Parlour (567 Queen West, 416-703-5488), both situated in what’s quickly becoming Toronto’s devil horn district. For 15-plus years, Bovine has been one of the most unique-looking booze cans in Canada, and as rock’s popularity hits peaks and valleys, the Sex Club remains unflappably frozen in time. Tattoo, on the other hand, is the peacocking new kid on the block. Bigger, flashier, more expensive, the Rock Parlour caters to a condo crowd looking for Richmond Street dance-floor action but without DJs spinning Euro-trance all night.