Toronto’s legendary El Mocambo reopens for public gigs

It was long overdue–bloody COVID–but the El Mocambo, the legendary club on at Spadina and College in Toronto, is back to holding in-person concerts for the general public. Yes, there have been many events at the club over the last year, but those were livestream things and not regular ticketed concerts.

The Elmo underwent about $30 million in renovations since the last time there was such a gig back in 2014. Michael Wekerle, the investment dude and former panelist on CBC’s Dragon’s Den, spared no expense. The attention to detail with the renovations is nothing short of staggering. This is not your parent’s El Mocambo.

Before Our Lady Peace formally opened things on Saturday (October 30), there was a special private affair Friday night featuring Burlington, Ontario’s, Harm & Ease. Most everyone was dressed for Halloween and if you didn’t know there was a pandemic, you wouldn’t have got any hints from this crowd. Yes, some people were wearing masks and there were masking requirements for some parts of the building, but otherwise, it looked and felt like a gig from The Before Times.

And if I’m honest, I was a little freaked out. Yes, it was great to see people losing their minds to live music again. At the same time, though, I (and from the looks of it, other people in the venue) were cautious-to-paranoid about being in such close proximity to strangers again. Yes, they were VERY picky at the door; everyone had to be double-vaxxed, had to have their vaccination certificate, and needed to present ID confirming that the certificate belonged to them. Still, pandemic habits will die hard with some of us.

Read more about the refurbished Elmo here.

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.

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