JULIEN BALBONTIN/THE VARSITY

Being an underage music lover can be both a limiting and frustrating experience. When your favourite band comes to town and the only thing standing in your way is an age restriction, the angst you thought you left behind in high school can start kicking in. This guide aims to make the months separating you from complete concert freedom a bit less heartbreaking.

Behave yourself
First off, let’s get this out of the way: fake IDs rarely work. Bouncers are not dumb and you are relatively unlikely to have a movie moment where they will let you into the show.

Regardless of whether or not you have a fake ID, bought or borrowed, your opportunities to enter different venues in the city vary. Many venues have 19+ areas, so underage fans can attend as well. Being nice and respectful is key. Don’t get drunk beforehand (or discretely during) because security is on the lookout. Venues want to protect their licenses and their reputations.

More and more options
All-ages shows in Toronto are being held more and more by the year. If you’re looking for a place to hang out, The Smiling Buddha hosts all-ages showcases, especially during NXNE. Even predominantly 19+ venues like The Horseshoe Tavern have begun to hold all-ages shows.

Seasons also have a huge impact. The best months for all-ages shows are from January until the end of music festival season, which is around the beginning of September. Fall tours, especially this year, are often 19+ since it’s too cold for all-ages venues like Echo Beach and the Molson Amphitheatre.

Cheap(er) venues and festivals

venuesAlthough all-ages shows tend to be a bit more expensive, you can get lucky with shows held at Kool Haus, Geary St., The Smiling Buddha, and Danforth Music Hall where the tickets range from $10-20, with the occasional $30-40 ticket. Take full advantage of music festivals in Toronto — they are almost always all-ages or hold all-ages shows. You can see a festival’s worth of bands for a wristband that costs as much as a single night’s $80 concert ticket.

Footnotes
A final bit of advice is not to limit yourself to this advice. A huge element of navigating the Toronto music scene is to go outside of your comfort zone and make connections. With this in mind, to all you first-year music fans out there, don’t let the age barrier get you down. There are plently of opportunities to see amazing music in Toronto in spite of the number on your ID.

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