One of the greatest parts about living in Toronto is the music scene. Sure, you can see your Drake’s and Taylor Swift’s at the Rogers Centre, as you could in any major city, but it’s Toronto’s indie-oriented dive halls that really make it something special.
Why then are some of the most cherished music clubs boarding up their doors?
At the end of 2016, Queen Street staple The Hideout said it’s goodbyes. Carrying on into the new year, the closures have only increased, much to the dismay of Toronto music lovers. Soy Bomb HQ, a highly unique and beloved music facility has already held its final curtain call. The Central and electronic-music hang out, The Hoxton are next in line. Both have announced their closing events, happening within the month.
While each venue may have its own reason for going out of business, there is one thing that these bars share in common: they were an essential part of a popular underground scene.
In learning about each unfortunate closure, I couldn’t help but wonder a couple of things. First of all, what was happening in each separate situation? Was there financial problems? Secondly, was there some greater issue that allowed for not one, but multiple venues to share the same disappointing fate- possibly a movement that couldn’t simply be blamed on bankruptcy? Much to my dismay, the answers were not linear. The owner of The Hoxton explained that the club’s fate was sealed in part due to a much-too short lease agreement, and his new found interest in restaurants over nightclubs. Others have, in fact blamed money: millennial’s lack a disposable income to spend on concerts. There has even been mentioning of a 4CHAN conspiracy fuelled by right-wing hatred of indie-libertarianism. Could this have been the downfall to the DIY venue, Soy Bomb HQ which boasted not only a half-pike for a stage, but also supposed “radical” left-wing ideologies?
4CHAN, an online, image-based discussion forum, gives the public, much like Reddit, an avenue for topical free speech. One of such topics focused on the independent music scene. This discrimination against artistic expression- much like the discrimination against other liberal communities, fought to put an end to possible libertarian movements that were being housed in DIY venues. Some of the proponents made clear their support for President Donald Trump, quoting his now famous catch phrase “Make America Great Again.” Like other rights issues that have bubbled up to the top of the pond since the election, the online community has been less than shy about their discriminatory opinions.
Amongst all of my research, I did, however, come to a light of hope at the end of the tunnel. Hugh’s Room, one of the more publicized closures this month, had plans in the works to re-open in March. The bar, which saw it's downfall due to lack of finances (rather than discrimination), will attempt to reboot via fundraising. While it may seem like a sudden, and perhaps an overly anxious turn of events, the owners of the bar have already green lit bookings for Spring 2017. Within this topic of discussion- the frustrating and contemptuous issues that have emerged in the indie scene- we may be able to use this exciting change of events as faith that our loyal soldiers in the industry are much too passionate to give up. After all, they may be able to shut down a music venue, but they will never be able to take away our love of art and culture.