If you're a J-school or RTA brat at Ryerson jonesing to feature the next Next Big Thing in your end-of-term project, you don't have to travel far to catch cool live acts.
Starving students really can't go wrong with the solid roster of free shows right next door at Yonge-Dundas Square . Yeah, the curious concrete expanse might not be the most aesthetically appealing or ergonomic use of public space, but with afternoon and evening shows by the likes of dance-floor jazz threat Elizabeth Shepherd, smokin' Ottawa Afrobeat crew SoulJazz Orchestra and rising folk-soul siren Basia Bulat, all for the low price of zilch, you've got nothing to complain about.
The area's not exactly club central, but there are some sure bets. Third-floor Reilly's (340 Yonge, 416-593-4252) offers a good vista of shoppers when you get bored watching the grungy rock acts onstage.
And just a little bit south, the Hard Rock Café's Club 279 (279 Yonge, 416-362-3636) caters to classic rock lovers with regular covers nights and performances by still-kicking geezers like Mountain and Trooper. Over at NOW HQ, the slickly designed NOW Lounge (189 Church, 416-364-1301) features everything from improv jazz to sweet alt-folk most days of the week.
As far as major music venues go, the Phoenix (410 Sherbourne, 416-323-1251) is within walking distance of the Ryerson campus. Check it out for well-mixed shows by buzzy bands and weekly dance parties.