Many Torontonians were sad when news broke at the end of summer that Liberty Group owners were shuttering the Velvet Underground. The club had been a fixture on the Queen West strip for 20 years, but trends had shifted, and the owners said they wanted to focus on their portfolio of wine bars. It was widely assumed that the Velvet would be converted into something like Cibo Wine Bar, but instead, Embrace Presents has taken over the spot, and will be reviving the bar as a live music venue opening February 12.
“We were always interested in the Velvet,” explains Embrace founder Adam Gill. “We had been trying to find a smaller venue for bands to play before they’re big enough for the Danforth Music Hall, so when we heard they were closing we immediately reached out. Luckily, we were able to work out a deal to acquire the venue.”
The Velvet Underground previously hosted some live acts, but was more well known as an alternative rock and goth dance club. Gill says he hopes the venue will operate primarily as a live music venue, across all genres, ranging from indie to punk to metal to hip-hop to electronic, with room for events that cater to its legacy as well.
“We are planning to definitely do some industrial and goth nights for sure, and keep some of the old spirit of the Velvet alive,” Gill says.
Renovations are ongoing, with a new PA, a bigger stage and a roomier dance floor coming in.
Given that it’s going to be run by new owners and management, why keep the original name?
“The Velvet has been around for 20 years, and we felt it was important to keep the name, as it has a lot of history,” Gill says. “In this city of condos, it would be ideal to keep the name and heritage alive.”
For opening night on February 12, they’ll be giving a nod to both the former identity and the new focus on live music with a show by Toronto dark electronic pop artist Trust.
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