What’s better than seeing live music in an open-air environment, with a spectacular view of Toronto’s waterfront and skyline, as a perfect summer’s evening gives way to a starlit night? Yeah, we can’t think of anything either. Luckily, the 6ix has two venues that offer this experience - and they’re right next to each other.
Opened in 2011 as the sister venue to Budweiser Stage, (which is a stone’s throw away), RBC Echo Beach - originally TD Echo Beach - is one of Toronto’s newest venues. Both stages are located on the former Ontario Place grounds, and both are part of the Live Nation entertainment company. But unlike Budweiser stage, RBC Echo Beach audiences - who are completely uncovered - stand on the sands of a genuine beach, with real sand and all. This arrangement lends itself well to the venue’s moniker, which is of course taken from the 1979 song of the same name, recorded by Canadian group Martha and the Muffins. Because there’s no formal seating arrangement with this beachfront setup, the audience is essentially layed out in a vague, GA blob that faces the stage. That said, the venue does offer two VIP areas and one wheelchair accessible-designated zone. It’s simple, modern construction keeps the structural components totally exposed; it resembles little more than a set of scaffolding with an RBC logo on the front (but this look works). There are two massive monitors on either side of the stage that display the professionally shot footage, and the entire rear wall of the stage, behind the artists, serves a large projection screen for the display of mind-bending graphics.
In its relatively short life, RBC Echo Beach has hosted acts such as Wu-Tang Clan, Sum 41, Shinedown, Machine Gun Kelly, Greta Van Fleet, Leon Bridges, Rise Against, Alt-J, Third Eye Blind, TLC, and Lamb of God. The venue also hosts Events like the Rockstar Energy Drink Disrupt Festival, CBC Music Festival, and Deadbeats (a dubstep/EDM festival that is often hosted and headlined by Toronto’s own Zeds Dead).
Visitors of RBC Echo Beach have access to the same array of overpriced food and bevvy trucks as the Budweiser Stage crowd - just be sure to avoid the over-charging ATM’s and bring cash, so you get gouged only once. Other things to know before seeing a show include the parking situation: you can park at the old Ontario Place lot, just like you can for the Budweiser Stage; but it fills up fast. And worse than finding a spot is leaving - if you try and depart from the lot with masses, you will spend at least 30 minutes waiting behind a line of people trying to turn left on Lakeshore. To avoid the parking frenzy, public transit offers a relatively efficient way of getting to and from the venue. You can take a GO Train to Exhibition Station, and then take the short walk South through the Exhibition Place grounds to the Ontario Place main entrance. Using the TTC, you can take a subway to Union, Dufferin, or Bathurst Stations, and then a bus or streetcar that runs Exhibition Loop to the Lakeshore Bridge. Cross this, and you’re there.