Toronto’s Mod Club Theatre, the stage that hosted The Weeknd’s first-ever live concert, has permanently closed its doors after 18 years.
The club’s owner, Bruno Sinpoli, posted the news on social media Friday but did not state a reason for the closure, saying only that it was “effective immediately.” (The venue has been shut since COVID-19 hit in mid-March.) Sinpoli declined to comment to Billboard.
“Serving you for the last two decades has been full of great memories and good times,” the club’s statement read. “Our goal was always striving to bring big smiles, positive vibrations and memories that will last a lifetime.”
The 600-capacity music hall, which opened in 2002, hosted The Weeknd’s first concert on July 24, 2011. The singer posted a memory to Facebook this summer, calling Mod Club “the stage that changed my life.”
Other artists who have performed at Mod Club include Amy Winehouse, Calvin Harris, Muse, Keane, The Lumineers, The Killers, Sia, John Mayer, Florence + The Machine, Cypress Hill, Yukon Blonde, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Lana Del Rey.
The Mod Club began as a weekly “British invasion” DJ night led by Platinum Blonde frontman and DJ Mark Holmes — a British-born transplant — at two venues on the same College Street strip. A few years later, with Sinopoli, Holmes christened a former pool hall located across the street from the venues as the Mod Club Theatre. Holmes continued his DJ nights there and added live music bookings.
Billboard reached out to a few artists who played the Mod Club Theatre to share their memories of the venue.
“We played a secret show at the Mod Club in 2016 and felt the ghosts in the room,” The Lumineers frontman Wesley Schultz tells Billboard in an email. “It’s clubs like these that make bands who they are – it’s tragic that we are losing these pieces of living history and lineage.”
Tara Slone, lead singer of alternative rock band Joydrop, remembers showcasing as a solo act there. “I was lucky enough to be the first artist to play the Mod Club stage, doing a private event for Capitol Records in the earliest days of the club’s existence,” she says. “To me, the Mod Club felt like the perfect marriage of iconic and intimate; the shows were always larger than life in both sound and atmosphere, yet it was a place that felt totally warm and comfortable, where everyone knew your name.”
Another Toronto-born artist, Jessie Reyez — who was opening for Billie Eilish on her world tour before COVID-19 caused its cancellation — played the Mod Club in 2017 behind her Kiddo EP. “The memories of my first sold-out show in Toronto are laced inside those walls,” she says. “My parents holding the Colombian flag over the balcony. My team and I taking shots from the bottle after the show…We saved that show to be the last on the tour because we knew it would be the most special. That morning, when I got home with a handful of Kiddo balloons, I knew I’d gone through a Toronto rite of passage.”