As you may remember, The Big Bop, home to many an all-ages punk gig at the corner of Queen and Bathurst shut down almost a year ago, marking the end of an era for a certain scene. I remember first hearing the rumour that they’d be turning it into a Crate and Barrel furniture store–and those rumours proved to be true, as the chain celebrated the opening of its new CB2 apartment/condo-geared outlet today where the old purple building used to be. I happened to be in the area, so I stopped by to check it out.
Man, I must say, they sure spruced the place up! Gone is all the purple paint, and while they kept the brick facades on the second floor, they knocked down the walls to put some large display windows on the ground level. Gone are the Kathedral’s checkerboard floors in all but one corner of the room, replaced with bare concrete. Gone too are the Kathedral’s legendary punk rock bathrooms–it’s now a storage space, I presume…
Also gone is that dark, dingy stairwell that took you up to the Reverb. They’ve replaced it with a wide, wooden, naturally-lit staircase that goes up to the top–while also installing an elevator! Crate and Barrel did keep one element of the former tenant’s, though; they just moved it inside, and made it part of a living-room display.
Now, I wasn’t in the market for a new bed or couch or anything, but I was looking for a couple smaller items like a coffee table and a storage box for my LPs. There were a couple coffee tables I liked–until I saw the price ($300-500). I did manage to find the perfect wooden file box for my records, though. Only problem was that it didn’t have a price tag. It took a little while, but eventually a store clerk was able to help me out, so now I don’t have my records stacked on top of each other anymore…
Anyways, being back at the Big Bop and Barrel brought back a few memories of the old concert venue. Here are a handful of memorable gigs I saw there:
- Gates of Hell fest @ Reverb, August 2005: My first Toronto club show. Anvil, Razor, Piledriver, Nuclear Assault and a few other bands. My neck was wrecked!
- George Lynch @ Reverb, December 2005: Laugh all you want, but there’s a lotta good memories associated with this gig. I got a spot on the guest list for playing Lynch Mob on CKLN, one of the first times I filled in for Satan Takes a Holiday. There was a big dumping of snow that day, and they let us wait inside the Kathedral before the doors to the Reverb opened. And yes, George Lynch’s band did some rockin’ Dokken tunes. Breaking the Chains!!!
- DOA w/ 3Tards @ Kathedral, summer 2006: The first all-ages punk show I caught at the Big Bop–and also my first time seeing the 3Tards, who left quite an impression!
- Glory Through Steel Metalfest I-IV @ Kathedral 2006-2009: An annual, often under-attended event that showcased a lotta underground Toronto bands, while featuring headliners like Anvil, Exciter, Nunslaughter and Razor. So many memories from these gigs, but it’s the first one that stands out the most.
- Testament @ Reverb, October 2006: Me and my buddy Mike showed up insanely early to meet the band–whose bus didn’t arrive till there were lotsa other people in line, what with there being a big snowstorm in Buffalo or something. The gig itself was great, but killing time in front of the building is what I remember most. I still cringe whenever I hear “Heavy Metal Samurai” by Metallucifer! (No fuckin’ links–look it up, if you must…)
- Snake Mountain/Illusive Mind Gypsy Crew @ Kathedral August 23, 2008 AND Fiftywatthead/Sons of OTIS/Nice Cat @ Kathedral, September 14, 2008: Though there were some big gigs at the Big Bop, there were also lotsa small-scale shows like these that hardly anybody ever saw. The former featured two touring bands; one from Calgary, the other from Winnipeg, who simply blew me away. Snake Mountain, sadly, broke up not long afterwards. The latter took place as Hurricane Ike battered the States, and we had some pretty nasty winds and rain up here, too. Did I mention that it was a Sunday nite? Very few people came–many missed out!
- Mother’s Green, The Compound, On the Verge @ Holy Joe’s, November 20, 2009: Holy Joe’s was the third venue in the building, a much-smaller room on top of the Reverb. If I remember this gig, it’s cuz I was literally the only person who saw Mother’s Green play. All the other bands had left–even the bartender and the security guy took off. It was a set that literally nobody saw except for me. Mind you, Mother’s Green‘s still going, but they still don’t get a lotta respect. Too bad, they’re a pretty decent grunge band…
- 3Tards farewell show @ Kathedral, July 18, 2009: If there was one band that I associate most with this venue, it’s the 3Tards. The local punksters played this place so many times that John Tard took a piece of the stage with him when it shut down. At the time, I was sad to see ‘em go–though their 10-year “assiversary” comeback gig a couple years later was a very triumphant return. The gig didn’t happen here though, as the Kathedral was already closed, so the Horseshoe served as a decent 19+ stand-in for the event.