El Mocambo closing doors after 100 years of music

El Mocambo’s palm tree sign at 464 Spadina Ave. Venue closes Nov. 6 with Canada Foundation for Parkinson’s Research fundraiser. Photo by Phil Witmer

Phil Witmer
A&E Reporter

As Toronto’s esteemed El Mocambo Tavern and concert venue prepares to close its doors on Nov. 6 after over 100 years of business and some notable clientele, Humber’s musicians reflect on their own experiences playing shows at the Spadina-College institution.

“It was really nice and strange to sit on the same couch that the Rolling Stones once sat on,” said Humber Communications student Eddie Sayers, 20, guitarist and vocalist for local trio Asmodeus. The band has played two shows at the El Mocambo, the most recent of which was last month.

Benjamin Koby, Asmodeus’ bassist, was appreciative of the band’s time there.

“I really enjoyed playing at such a historic venue…Thin Lizzy, Rush and Stevie Ray Vaughan have all done shows here,” he said.

Koby was somewhat critical of his band’s treatment during one of their shows, saying that the event was somewhat disorganized. Sayers said it was indeed understandable as to why the El Mocambo needed to be sold but remarked, “it’s sad to see the place go.”

Chris Moleirinho, a former Humber student and guitarist/vocalist in Toronto rock band Czars, agrees. Moleirinho’s old hardcore band Violet performed at the El Mocambo multiple times in the late 2000s, occasionally to less-than-appreciative crowds.

“Once, the promoter put us on a bill opening for a girl who sounded like Sheryl Crow. I think we must have driven out half of the people there,” Moleirinho said with a laugh.

Despite that, he says that Violet’s best shows were performed at the El Mocambo and he recalls the times he has seen well-known local acts like punk group F**ked Up there.

“To not have the El Mocambo around…it sucks.”

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