Starved for live music due to COVID-19? Drive-in concerts start Thursday at Polson Pier
Venue the result of 'massive' $200K investment, CityView Drive-In owner says
While concerts in the city this summer have been halted until further notice due to the COVD-19 pandemic, a new drive-in venue is offering live music you can listen to from the comfort of your own car and physically distance at the same time.
CityView Drive-In, which is designed to accommodate over 200-plus cars for each concert, will offer a "safe and distanced" outdoor experience for music lovers. It's located in the parking lot of the Rebel nightclub at Polson Pier.
"This is going to be a lot of fun," INK Entertainment CEO Charles Khabouth told CBC Toronto.
"It's not just about being able to be able to go out again ... it's a new experience."
Khabouth says the drive-in concerts are the result of a "massive $200,000 investment" that has been in the works for two-and-a-half months, and he hopes the venue will operate five to seven days a week.
"The response has been amazing; we are constantly being asked for dates to be set up," he said.
To ensure everyone's safety, Khabouth says the parking lot, which has 500 spots, will only allow 200 cars in at a time. Between each car there will be an empty parking space more than a metre wide, so everyone can physically distance.
"So if two people are exiting at the same time, they're still two or three feet apart," he said.
Having also partnered with the City of Toronto to serve as a drive-in movie theatre, CityView will also be offering free drive-in film screenings.
"They'll still have to get a ticket and reserve a spot but we can than allow for the exposure of some of these film festivals like Inside Out LGBTQ, Regent Park film festival, so it allows local filmmakers and the community to celebrate film, to experience this, and do it for free," Mayor John Tory said.
Guests can choose to listen along in their car on a designated FM frequency or from the external sound system if they prefer their windows down, Khabouth says.
Hamilton rock band Monster Truck is scheduled to open this Thursday at the venue.
Jon Harvey, the band's lead singer and bassist, says he's excited to be getting back onstage after the cancellation of live shows during the pandemic.
"It'd be really good to get out there and perform for people again because it's the only thing I'm good at," Harvey said.
"I imagine people are going to crank up their stereos! I'm hoping it keep the spirit of a live rock-n-roll show because we need that."
Other artists set to take the stage this summer include Alan Rayman and a Tribe Called Red but tickets to shows can only be purchased online and there will be assigned parking spots.
"We have to adapt, otherwise the chance of survival is minimal, so we've all made changes and we've all learned a lot," Khabouth said.
He's excited about the opening, but he says he will be monitoring the venue closely to see if it's a success.
"It will be a three-month trial; if successful we will continue — weather permitting — as late into the year as possible."
With files from Kelda Yuen and Martin Trainor