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Published on August 24th, 2016 | by Alan Cross

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Remembering the Kingswood Music Theatre

If you grew up in Southern Ontario in the 80s and 90s, there’s a better-than-average chance that you drove up the 400 to see a summer concert at the Kingswood Music Theatre, the 15,000-ish capacity venue on the grounds of Canada’s Wonderland. I saw a bazillion shows there: Depeche Mode, the Ramones, China Crisis, Kim Mitchell, Elvis Costello, Roger Waters (the Radio KAOS concert was still the best-sounding gig I’ve ever been to), Sister of Mercy, Simple Minds, David Lee Roth, Howard Jones. The list goes on.

It was the only venue in the GTA to host a Smiths concert. We did a series of CFNY Video Roadshow events there. There was the infamous rain-soaked washout of the 1985 CASBY Music Awards. The last edition of the touring edition of Lollapalooza was held at Kingswood. Tool played there, fer crissakes.

I’m not exactly sure when Kingswood stopped being a thing–did the Molson Amphitheatre kill it off?–but when it was around, it was a great place to see a concert in the summer.

Cam Gordon at Completely Ignored created this visual featuring many of the bands that performed at the Kingswood. What other shows do you remember?

Kingswood Music Theatere Infographic




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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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40 Responses to Remembering the Kingswood Music Theatre

  1. Alex says:

    I saw Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch there.

    Don’t judge me, I was like 9 or 10!’

    And I could have seen The Smiths – my goodness.

  2. Sven says:

    Jackson Browne

  3. SCOTT WILSON says:

    So many shows…

    eurythmics
    zztop
    the pogues and the violent femmes
    roger waters
    howard jones
    santana
    aerosmith
    world party

  4. James Edgar says:

    I was at that roger waters radio Kaos show. It WAS amazing sound! I saw Triumph’s final show there as well. I can’t remember going the for anything else.

  5. toddcoles says:

    I saw Sisters of Mercy, who were sharing the bill with Public Enemy, and I think Warrior Soul opened. I don’t think Flavor Flav made it across the border for this one. Also saw David Lee Roth and Poison (with Extreme opening)

  6. Marty Murray says:

    I saw Jackson Browne there too. Got to meet him and talk with him for quite a bit, and went backstage.

  7. Brad says:

    Chalk Circle played the first stop on their cross Canada tour supporting Crowded House at Kingswood.

  8. fred says:

    Too many to remember…a couple not on the list were Honeymoon Suite and Sting (I think 10 Summoners tour).

    Saw Diamond Dave, Triumph, Chicago, and a bunch more. Was a great facility

    • Jody says:

      I saw so many concerts there myself as well as worked there. Chicago when Peter Cetera was still with them, Honeymoon Suite opening for April Wine ( Cory Hart decided he had a sore throat so HS opened for them) Poison, Glass Tiger, David Lee Roth, and a few more. The only issue with going to concerts there was if you stood up to rock out/dance security told you to sit down.

  9. Mark says:

    As I recall when The Smiths played there it was the same night The Cult played in Waterloo. I opted for The Cult. In retrospect, maybe not the best choice however The Cult had this little known band called Guns ‘n Roses opening for them. Appetite for Destruction hadn’t exploeded yet (although I believe it was relaeased) and the band had a raw energy that you only see with young bands.

    • Barb Blair says:

      I was at that gig too. I remember GnR didn’t get a great reception. That LA cock rock thing just hadn’t made it to southern Ontario yet. Super skate 7 got pulled apart that night….well the ceiling at least.

  10. John says:

    Saw Violent Femmes open for the B-52’s…..good show. I realize Molson Amphithéâtre probably over took Kingswood, but isn’t the GTA/ Golden Horseshoe not a big market to support to venue like that size?

  11. David says:

    The question is, Why can’t it be a great venue again?
    I was at Canada’s Wonderland a couple weekends ago and walked by Kingswood thinking how much of my concert summer life was spent their in my youth.
    #BringbackKingswood#Myyouth#Summerconcerts

    • Alan Cross says:

      I think it’s a promoter issue.

      • Nicholas King says:

        Hi Alan. I love everything you do. You are an amazing walking encyclopedia of musical knowledge.
        I am wondering if you know anything about The Band when they played at Kingswood?
        Who played that night?The setlist, anything at all. Thanks in advance.

  12. Jodi says:

    Saw Depeche Mode for my first concert ever there at age 13 in 1985 (saw the boys playing footie on the back field from the top of the Minebuster. Then worked security at Kingswood for 3 summers. Minimum 75 concerts – several of them solid. Got a ring from Morrissey. Best outdoor venue ever. Except for the sod tossing concerts!

  13. Marla says:

    Definitely saw Depeche Mode more than once. Saw Chicago on thir 30th anniversary tour for my 30th birthday. Did INXS play there?

  14. Chris says:

    Don’t forget The English Beat (with BowWowWow) in ….I guess ’82. And Talk Talk opened up for The Furs in ’85(??).

  15. Loud Mouth Soup says:

    Saw the 93 Duran Duran show. Terence Trent D’Arby opened up. Such a fun day.

  16. Tom says:

    I saw Little Feat open for George Thorogood. The Feat definitely stole the show!!! There was an awesome thunderstorm that night as well. Lightning flashing all around Kingswood!!

  17. John says:

    Saw Erasure and Martha and The Muffins there

  18. Andrea G says:

    I saw a 1988 (I think) Kenny Logins concert there. The venue is still in use, attended a cheerleading competition there in June 2016. Shame it isnt used for more shows.

  19. Bill says:

    Mastero Fresh Wes opened for Stevie B. Half the place emptyed out after ‘Let your back Bone Slide’ was played. He was just peaking….Steive B was the greatest embasator Freestyle ever had!

  20. Fouad says:

    Morrissey 1991

  21. Kathleen says:

    INXS did play there, Marta, they opened for the Go-Gos.

  22. Angela says:

    I saw The Smiths, Siousie and the Banshees, erasure!, Depeche Mode and so many more I love that I could pay $5 for a concert with my seasons pass.

  23. Catherine Kenwell says:

    Talk Talk opening for Psychedelic Furs…the Replacements opening for Tom Petty…

  24. Mr fx says:

    Worked at KMT 1983 -1984
    Sad it’s not used any more.
    It’s still a great venue maybe some day it will have great shows again.
    For now it’s a home for geese and raccoons.

  25. john says:

    i remember seeing Little Feat with Lowell George all them years ago

  26. G says:

    ’86 saw depeche mode with book of love opening. sweet memories of high school summer

  27. Mark says:

    Lollapalooza 1997…with Orbital, Tool, Korn, Tricky, James, Snoop Dogg, etc.

  28. Bobby says:

    I loved that venue, even though I’d only seen a handful of shows there. I saw George Thorogood with Little Feat opening. I saw Kim Mitchell with Haywire opening. And I saw Morrissey … which, combined with the day at Wonderland with 15 or 20 of my friends, was one of the funnest days of my teenage life!

  29. Jonathan grimes says:

    I was at Roger Waters Aug. 17 1987 and the sound was the best I have heard to date.

  30. scott says:

    Iggy pop with Reverend Horton Heat and only about thirty people in the audience! It Was fantastic. Mid 90,s

  31. Joe says:

    Alan, great article! I’d like to note that the appearance by Depeche Mode in the summer of 1994 was during their legendary, debauchery filled “Exotic/Summer Tour ’94”, which was basically an extension of their Devotional tour, where they looped back around and hit all the outdoor venues during the summer. By this point the band was falling apart. Dave was totally strung out on heroin. Andrew Fletcher had left the band because of a nervous breakdown and a roadie or friend of the band was filling in. Martin was in the throes of his own alcoholism. Alan wilder was finishing the last shows he’d ever play with the band, in part because of all of this. I have read anecdotes written by tour managers and agents who worked with people like Ozzy and Motley Crue who said this was one of the most debauched rock tours ever and DM had those other bands beat…. Literally lucky to finish that tour alive. That said, as I’m rambling on… Cool to think, that show rolled into Canada’s Wonderland! If that backstage area could talk!

  32. Mark Harris says:

    Animotion opened for someone…was it Simple Minds??

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