For music fans in Toronto, Canadian Music Week is the first sign that summer has arrived.

From May 1st through May 10th, CMW’s annual festival of music, film, and comedy takes over the city with showcases, panels, parties, screenings, and more. With over a thousand bands showcasing at over 50 venues, building a schedule is an overwhelming task. And once you’ve made the cutthroat decisions on who to see, you need to make sure your body doesn’t fall apart after 10 days of late nights, headbanging, and liver abuse.

Let Complex Canada be your wingblog for CMW. We’ll take the difficulty out of decision making, so you can focus on festing. We’ve highlighted the must-see sets of the festival, and tackled all the super important need-to-know information, like where to find the cheapest beers and which venues 4AM last call. Keep scrolling to the end of the article for a handy Google Map with everything mentioned in this guide. 

These pro-tips will help you get the most out of your CMW wristband. If you don’t have one yet, you can grab one here

Here’s the Complex Canada guide to surviving Canadian Music Week.


Which venues have 4AM last call?

Bovine Sex Club
Cadillac Lounge
Cameron House
Cherry Cola’s
Dakota Tavern
Drake Hotel
The Garrison
Handlebar
Hard Luck
Hideout
Horseshoe Tavern
Lee’s Palace
MOD Club
Painted Lady
Revival
Rivoli
Silver Dollar
Smiling Buddha
Sneaky Dee’s
Supermarket
Tattoo
The Underground Garage
Velvet Underground

Which venue has the best drink special?

Bovine Sex Club at Queen and Bathurst has $4 domestic bottles every night, and on top of that, a 4am last call is in effect. The Bovine also happens to be your CMW Best Bet for all things punk rock, which makes it recipe for a good time.

Which venue has the best food?

It depends: do you want to eat like a baller, or do you just need fuel to keep going? On the pricier end of the spectrum, Parts & Labour has a special on Wednesdays: $18 for a burger and pint. Treat yourself to the best burger you’ll eat this year, and then go check out the Culvert Music Showcase downstairs, for some underground electro vibes. If that’s too rich for your blood, you might want to scope out the Cantina at The Garrison. Tacos are only $4.50, and The Garrison has some of CMW’s best showcases lined up. You can’t miss.

Where’s the best place to sit down in a nice, dark, air conditioned room?

If watching Do The Right Thing in the same room as Spike Lee sounds like something you’re interested in, CMW has you covered. There’s a screening on Sunday, May 10th, and you can win tickets from Complex Canada. While you’re at it, you can check out the Canadian premiere of Salad Days, along with tons of other rad film programming at the Royal Cinema.

What’s your best bet for something a little different?

If you’re tired of the same ol’ fuzz-rock and laptop DJs, you might want to check out CMW’s K-Pop Night Out, an event showcasing four Korean artists, some of which are in Canada for the first time ever. Headliners Illionaire Records, founded by rappers/producers Dok2 and The Quiett, intend to show Canada how they turn up in Seoul.

Which bands travelled the furthest to be at CMW?

In addition to the K-Pop Night Out, CMW’s lineup comes from all corners of the globe. This year, there’s a spotlight on 38 different Australian artists including Ben Lee, Xavier Rudd and The United Nations, TORA, and Jordan Léser. Here are a few more international artists you should make time for:

Anton Maskeliade (Russia)

Deon, Pleasantry, The Pinholes (Singapore)

Aldo The Band (Brazil)

Soldout (Belgium)

Bo Ningen, Zoobombs (Japan)

When should you sleep?

As always, the schedule for CMW is jam-packed. You’re only human, so you’ll probably want to take a night off during the festival’s grueling ten day regimen. There’s a bit of a lull in the schedule on Monday, May 4th, with just three shows scheduled, two of which are only accessible through a ticket lottery. Draw a bath, light some candles, and get some well deserved “me time” in.

Which shows will be the hardest to get in to?

Waiting in line is a buzzkill, so you might want to arrive early if you’re planning on hitting up these can’t-miss shows—they’re nearly sold out. Joey Bada$$ at the Danforth Music Hall, Mick Jenkins at Tattoo, and the Osheaga Showcase are all guaranteed to be rammed.

Where’s the best place to get your dance on?

If you can’t get into Jazz Cartier at the Garrison, why not spend your Thursday night dancing instead? Bust a move at Last Gang-signee and Complex favourite Harrison’s set at Studio Bar on Thursday May 8th at midnight, or head over to the Rare Beef showcase at Parts & Labour for some angular dance music from Eytan Tobin, Fanboy, Michael Imperial, and more.

Best late night food options?

Sneaky Dee’s is a no-brainer, but their dining room will be overrun with whiskey-soaked zombies devouring mountains of nachos during CMW. Be prepared to wait for a table, or maybe scope out Junked Food Co. on Dundas near Ossington. They’re right across from The Garrison, they’re open until 4AM, and you can grab one of their signature Smash Bags for the journey home. What’s a Smash Bag, you ask? It’s a walking taco made from a bag of Doritos, a.k.a. drunk person kryptonite.

What’s the best CMW hangover cure?

A beer for breakfast. See you on the patio.

Don’t Miss These Sets:

Here are our must-see sets of Canadian Music Week 2015. There are more than 1000 bands showcasing at CMW this year, and there’s no shame in admitting you need a little help with your schedule. We’ll be bringing you more detailed daily best-bets throughout the festival, so keep following if you need more of our patented pro-tips. You can check out the full schedule for CMW here.

Friday May 1st

Tre Mission, The Rivoli @ 12:30AM (Details)

Saturday May 2nd

JAHKOY, Tattoo, 7:30PM (Details)

Sunday May 3rd

The Blow, Adelaide Music Hall, 10:00PM (Details)

Monday May 4th

SLEEP. No, seriously. Get some rest. You deserve it.

Tuesday May 5th

DJ Bambii, The Garrison, 1:00AM (Details)

Wednesday May 6th

Complex Canada presents Post Malone, The Mod Club, 11:00PM (Details)

Thursday May 7th

Jazz Cartier, The Garrison, 12:00AM (Details)

Friday May 8th

JMSN, Tattoo, 11:00PM (Details)

Saturday May 9th

Joey Bada$$, Danforth Music Hall, 9:45PM (Details)

Sunday May 10th

Lady Leshurr, Drake Underground, 7:30PM (Details)