Lee’s Palace is a haven for alternative and indie rock, with veteran acts and emerging talent taking the stage at the Bloor Street venue. Founded in 1985, the 550-capacity venue sits underneath the popular Dance Cave, ensuring that there’s usually a crowd outside the mural-coated building.
Like the Danforth Music Hall, Lee’s Palace occupies a building that started its life as an Allen Theatre in 1919. While new owners came and went, the building still screened films until 1957. It later became home to the Blue Orchid, a dinner theatre venue and speakeasy. Nearly a decade after the Blue Orchid closed in 1976, Chong Su Lee opened Lee’s Palace with a performance by Toronto country icon Handsome Ned, followed by a show from Blue Rodeo. Within a few years, the venue started hosting up-and-coming independent bands, with both Nirvana and the Smashing Pumpkins supporting their first albums with shows there. After Lee died in 2001, Collective Concerts owner Jeff Cohen quickly bought the venue and, later, the building.
Today, Lee’s Palace is home to acts from all manner of alternative subgenres. Bands who have played in recent years include post-rock lifers Battles, reunited grunge four-piece L7 and epic singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens. Local and Canadian acts frequently take the stage, with Wolf Parade playing their a five-night residency at the venue during their 2016 reunion, while popular cover band Sheezer held their last show there in 2015.