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Another blow to the Toronto live music scene: The Phoenix Concert Theatre will close in January.

The Phoenix Concert Theatre at 410 Sherbourne St. in Toronto will soon be no more. After being born as a German-Canadian club decades ago, it morphed into The Diamond in the early 80s and became an important mid-sized music venue for the city. It then was later renamed The Phoenix in 1991 and continued to host concerts, events, and live-to-air radio broadcasts.

The Rolling Stones played there. So did Bob Dylan. And Rush. And The Tragically Hip. And Alanis Morissette. The Ramones. Foo Fighters. Rage Against the Machine.

I remember watching Green Day from the balcony a few days before the American Idiot album was released. I was there for many of Martin Streek’s live-to-air broadcasts for 102.1 The Edge on Saturday nights (An institution! A rite of passage!) I was onstage for a number of performers. The CASBY Awards were held there. So was the Polaris Music Prize. And the number of mid-sized and emerging artists to play the Phoenix is endless.

The Phoenix has always been kind of weird because of its location, smack-dab in the middle of a residential area. I don’t think there was ever a time when I went to the Phoenix (or drove past it) that I didn’t think about that. Now, though, the condos have come for the property.

The owners have announced that The Phoenix will close its doors forever on January 15. Why? Because the property will be turned into residential housing. The Sobara Group, the owners of the building, are going to redevelop the land into something like this.

But will this really be the end of The Phoenix? Maybe not. Co-owner Lisa Zbitnew says that the venue will–*ahem*–rise from the ashes in a new location. Where? No idea yet, but the new property needs a capacity of at least 1,000–and better parking. Wherever that might be will (a) still be somewhere in the downtown core and (b) will be branded “The Phoenix.”

That’s a relief because Toronto is suffering from a dearth of venues of this size. The Phoenix has been an important part of the Toronto music scene’s ecosystem and frankly, we can’t afford to lose it.

Expect a lot of chatter and some cool events between now and January 15.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38449 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “Another blow to the Toronto live music scene: The Phoenix Concert Theatre will close in January.

  • Another venue shut closed.

    The scene in Toronto is nowhere where it was decades agp.

    I could mention all the groups and bands I had seen there.

    What a thought that no more to be had.

    Reply

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