Best Live Music Venue in Kingston

Kingston's best small venue for live music, and entertainmentEvery so often I catch wind of a fantastic local band or out of town talent performing at one of Kingston’s small but mighty venues for live music. Name dropping aside, if you’re like me you’ll be able to recall a few times where you got to see ‘that band’ play ‘that song’, while the memory is seemingly everlasting. Save for the performers themselves, there are lots of other key factors that go into an ideal concert experience including ticket price, seating, sound quality, the mood of the crowd and the list goes on. Kingston has some pretty popular and charming small venues where one can regularly take in top quality performances. With your past experiences and ideal criteria in mind, this week’s poll seeks to answer the following query:

Kingston's best small venue for live music is:

  • The Grad Club (45%, 54 Votes)
  • The Mansion (34%, 41 Votes)
  • Some Place Else (7%, 9 Votes)
  • The Merchant (7%, 8 Votes)
  • The Toucan (5%, 6 Votes)
  • Tir Nan Og (2%, 2 Votes)
  • The Alehouse (1%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 121

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While this question is geared towards an audience member’s point of view, musicians likely factor in more technical aspects of the venues, as well as perks associated with performing.  Generous benefits such as a complimentary meal, bar tab or more cash in hand may at the end of the night are bound to influence places they hold near and dear. The tireless efforts of both promoters and sound technicians should not be overlooked, as well as other key support members including bar staff and bouncers.

What venue provided the backdrop for your most memorable experience; the good and the bad? What hole in the wall trumps all others, and what sort of criteria do you use to grade local venues? Does the quality of the venue even matter so long as the talent is solid? Does bathroom cleanliness, or speed of bar service factor into the picture? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please drop off a comment or two.

Thanks to Kmeron for today’s epic concert photo, likely taken at a not so small venue.

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Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

4 thoughts on “Best Live Music Venue in Kingston

  • February 28, 2011 at 11:52 am
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    I'm going to kick things off here. I've got a lot of love for both the Grad Club, and the Mansion. For me, they pull in some really great shows, serve beer that I like, and the audience tends to be pretty awesome. Having said that, seating is usually a problem in both venues. At the Grad Club, unless you show up an hour in advance, you're probably going to have to stand and watch the band via the left hand side of the stage, not the best angle. At the Mansion, you've got half a dozen or more columns throughout the upstairs living room clogging up sight lines. Very frustrating, but also adding to the character of either venue.

    Reply
  • March 1, 2011 at 4:18 am
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    I like both The Mansion and The Grad Club. The Grad Club has the awesome Virginia, who also books the Skeleton Park and Wolfe Island music fests, but The Mansion is a better space.

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  • March 1, 2011 at 10:26 am
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    Actually, Skeleton Park is an Apple Crisp affair. Virginia does do Wolfe Island though.

    As a musician, I'd have to say that The Mansion has the best set up as far as a big stage and a provided sound person goes. I like the Grad Club because it's quaint and has tons of character but it is a very small space to play in. With the right sound tech and a band that likes each other enough to stand that close, that small space can create a great atmosphere and a nice connection with the audience. I've been to some incredible shows there.

    As far as money goes though, if you don't have a following, you don't make any. Bars in Kingston don't pay much, if anything, and leave it to the band to collect at the door which can backfire if you don't have an audience. The RCHA is the only place I can think of that has money set aside for music (still not much but better than relying on the door).

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    • March 1, 2011 at 8:32 pm
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      Oh, sorry, yes, you are quite right about Skeleton Park…

      Reply

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