Mod Club Theatre
722 College St, Toronto, ON
The Mod Club’s origins date back to 1999; but it wasn’t a venue then - it was a weekly event night, held at the Lava Lounge. At the time, the Lava Lounge - owned and operated by former Rivoli staffers Greg Bottrell and Rob Eklove - was one of the biggest spots in the College West area. Mod Club, a 1960’s-Britpop-themed dance event taking place on Wednesdays, was started by British expat Mark Holmes - aka DJ MRK/singer for Platinum Blonde - and his friend Bobbi Guy, also British.
Mod Club soon became so popular that it maxed-out the 270-capacity Lava Lounge every week; so they expanded the event to include an additional night and location: now Mod Club would also convene on Saturdays at The Revival, a club that was also located on College Street (at Shaw). For several years, Mod Club would run successfully at both locations, but in 2002, Revival was temporarily shut down for a liquor license infraction, and in 2004, the Lava Lounge was slated for demolition to make way for some new condos. The Mod Club event was moved to the Supermarket, a club opened by the Lava’s Greg Bottrel, where it ran for a few months - but the time had come to take Mod Club to the next level. Around the same time, Holmes and Guy purchased the Allure Pool Hall at 722 College St. (just East of Ossington, near Little Italy - two blocks North and two blocks West of Velvet Underground, The Bovine Sex Club, and Rivoli). The hall, although rather decrepit on the inside, had a stage, for before being a pool hall it was a community event centre. In 2002, the premises at 722 College St. was officially opened as the Mod Club Theatre (the “Theatre” bit was added to the title to distinguish the Mod Club event, which was then still happening at Revival, from the new Mod Club venue).
After some extensive renos, Mark Holmes and Bobbi Guy’s venue had 24’ wide stage, hardwood floors all around, two bars, a VIP-ready balcony, and a 700-person capacity. As a nod to the Mod Club’s origins, Holmes and Guy decorated some of the walls with collages of images relating to 1960’s British mod subculture.
Bottrel recalls that, at the time of the venue’s initial opening, “College seemed like a cool up-and-coming area. But when we first opened, there was not that much happening on the street. It hadn’t blossomed yet” (2014). So, as the largest venue in the area at the time, the Mod Club Theatre not only “raised the bar for sound and lighting” (according to Holmes); it also breathed a new cultural life into this area of Toronto. In 2004, Muse was brought to the Mod’s stage (as a part of 102.1 The Edge's “The Next Big Thing” concert series), and it was this show that really put the venue on the map - and into people’s minds. Over the next few years, the Mod Club would host acts such as The Jezabels, Serena Ryder, Metric, Chris Webby, Billy Talent, The Killers, and Amy Winehouse.
In 2011, The Mod Club Theatre entered a sponsorship deal with Virgin Mobile, and thus began the age of the “Virgin Mobile Mod Club Theatre,” as it is still known today. Since this partnership was established, the venue has been updated with small improvements here and there: for instance, the loft was renovated and the soundproofing was improved in 2012. Currently, the sound setup consists of six subwoofers, eight main speakers, one centre fill, two balcony fills, and 15 stage monitors (for bands). There are a total of 54 stage lights, one hazer, a video projector and screen on the right side of the stage, and three 40” TV’s on the left. Since the days of the Virgin Mobile partnership, The Mod has seen yet more world-wide sensations, such as Post Malone, Lindsey Stirling, and Dragonette. Plus, rumour has it that Muse still “holds their after-parties at the club whenever they are in town, regardless of the show venue. They even flew in one Halloween from Chicago, just to party” (BlogTO, 2012). As with the best midsize Toronto venues, the Mod Club doesn’t only offer great bands and great sound - it offers the chance to experience some of the world’s biggest and best acts on a more intimate (and possibly even personal) level.