BSMT 254 is Toronto’s newest live music gem and it’s literally underground

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In a city where complaints equate live music with noise, it is difficult to achieve highly amplified sound, and this is something Vas Cranis has long enjoyed both as a lover of reggae music and professionally in as a DJ.

Former director of the Lula Lounge for a dozen years, he now presents with his business partner Alex Bordokas the BSMT 254 (pronounced “Basement Two Five Four”) at 254 Lansdowne Avenue near College.

The creation of this place was almost fortuitous.

Cranis explains:

About ten years ago, I became obsessed with reggae music. I had a team of guys and we were called Dub Connection. We started throwing parties on other people’s audio systems, and started buying a bit of gear here and there, throwing parties at Kensington Market.

Over time we built our system more and more and met a guy who knew how to build a speaker – but we had to take it everywhere with us. Then we had to pay to store it, and we were spending a lot of money. Then some of the guys retired and handed the system to us, and I was responsible for storing it.

For a while, I stored it at the Lula Lounge where I was the manager, and I was there all the time. Then when we decided to open Lula’s second floor, I had to start looking for spaces.

I always saw this basement when I was running past to get to the track – I was always curious so I finally got the contact and the guy said, “I’m about to rent it. to someone else but I would love to get some new blood in here, why don’t you come and see it. ”

When I saw it, I wanted it right away. That being said, it had an old Portuguese bar tavern vibe so it needed a lot of love.

My business partner Alex Bordokis and I were both working full time – I was still at Lula’s – so over time we put a lick of paint here, called an electrician there, threw a party, won money, paid off debts and a year later we got our liquor license, which we got right before COVID.

Fast forward to now, there is an exciting new live music lineup at BSMT 254, including monthly reggae, underground hip hop, contemporary jazz and songwriter series.

“Our tastes are so diverse that we don’t want to have any limits on what to program here,” Cranis told blogTO. “We schedule everything.”

Cranis says the programming philosophy comes to him from years of experience at the Lula Lounge and other large venues where he constantly had to reject groups and ideas if he didn’t think they could attract 200 people to the venue. spectacle.

He said this made it impossible to recruit young bands that were really talented but did not yet have a large following.

BSMT 254 is different and will present exactly those exciting young bands that you won’t find in other venues.

“This place is a great opportunity to be able to do things that we are passionate about,” said Cranis.

While Cranis and his team will be responsible for much of the programming, he also stressed that this is an event space they don’t want to close to anyone.

“There are a lot of under-represented groups in this town,” Cranis says. “Everyone is welcome here. “

Main photo by

Ori Dagan by Vas Cranis at BSMT 254

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