When Steve Hoeg learned that his boss, Domenic Chiaromonte was expanding their Rockpile West nightclub to also take over the old Knob Hill Tavern and rename it Rockpile East, he had to go looking for the window!
The same bathroom window at the Knob Hill Tavern that Hoeg used to climb through as a youngster to catch the likes of Goddo perform at this venerable Scarborough night spot. And yes, that same bathroom window is still intact.
But on Saturday October 5th, Hoeg won’t be climbing through any bathroom window to watch Goddo’s return to the newly christened Rockpile East. He’ll be in charge of re-launching a brand new venue that he and Chiaromonte have vowed will bring rock music back to Scarborough.
The Rockpile East will officially open Friday October 4th with The Killer Dwarfs doing the honors of being the first headliner in the new facility.
“My brother used to road manage for Goddo so when they played at the Knob Hill, I used to sneak past security by climbing in through a bathroom window,” laughed Hoeg. “Worked like a charm, I must have seen Goddo play there six or seven times.”
In charge of booking talent at Rockpile West (located at Dundas West and the East Mall Crescent in Etobicoke) for the past four years, Hoeg has worked with Chiaromonte (former owner of the downtown Big Bop venue) to build their venue as THE rock nightclub of Western Toronto. “It was a slow start the first year but we’ve been able to attract a variety of major Canadian rock groups (Honeymoon Suite, Helix, Goddo, Lee Aaron) with some major US bands including UFO, Stryper and Slaughter as well as a variety of Hip,Hop, Punk and Thrash Metal Bands for a younger crowd,” noted Hoeg. “ Our shows have been very eclectic,.”
As the 300-seat venue has grown in stature, pulling fans from all over Etobicoke, Mississauga, Oakville and the Hamilton/Burlington area, Chiaromonte and Hoeg realized it would be beneficial for them to have a second venue so they could book their acts over two nights.
“Domenic and I looked at a few possible venues in the Scarborough/Durham area but when we found the old Knob Hill Tavern was available, it was a no-brainer, I mean there is so much history in the place,”revealed Hoeg. “Now we have two venues at each end of the Bloor/Danforth subway line. (Rockpile West – Kipling) and Rockpile East – Kennedy) which makes accessing both clubs easy and there’s tons of free parking at both clubs as well.”
Chiaromonte concurs with Hoeg that the Rockpile East expansion opens up a great deal of expansion opportunities. “When I finished with the Big Bop I wanted to set up clubs in the suburbs that would be suitable for rock bands, I realized that people that wanted to catch rock bands didn’t want to go downtown,” noted “Chiaromonte. “When I was a kid I was fascinated by the old Rock Pile venue (Masonic Temple). I was never old enough to get in but I heard about great bands like Led Zeppelin that played there and I always wanted to call a club of my own the Rock Pile.”
With Rockpile East set to be a much bigger venue than its sister band (Capacity 500 +) Hoeg believes his ability to book major bands into both venues provides a great deal of options to him. “Touring bands like playing Toronto and they don’t just want to play one night and then move on,” noted Hoeg. “Now we can book acts over two nights, pay them more and make it worth their while to stay over.”
This philosophy has already paid off with the booking of Goddo to play Rockpile West Thursday October 3rd and Rockpile East Saturday October 5th, UFO to arrive in Toronto for a Friday October 11th date at Rockpile West and a Saturday October 12th date at Rockpile East. November will also see hip-hop band Swollen Members play Rockpile West Friday October 7th and Rockpile East Saturday October 8th.
As an additional attraction, the original `Kid Rock’, Keith Correa will be spinning classic rock tunes every Wednesday night at Rockpile East starting October 30th.
Aware that Toronto is now bereft of showcase rock clubs, Hoeg and Chiaromonte are planning to mould both Rockpiles in the former image of clubs like the Gas Works, Rock N Roll Heaven and the El Mocambo. “We want both clubs to grow in status, not just in Metro Toronto but we also want to build a reputation with the rest of the country. When artists think of Toronto we want them to think of the Rockpile. “Don’t be surprised if we also come up with a Rockpile Central,” forecasted Hoeg. “But I believe this would be more of a hip-hop/dance club. I don’t believe that rock clubs work downtown.”
With a boast that Chiaromonte and Hoeg are bringing rock music back to Scarborough, they are hopeful that their new location will also attract patrons from Pickering, Whitby, Alax and Oshawa . “It opens up an entirely new audience for us,” concluded Hoeg.” Our venue is easy to get to and I am sure Rockpile East will be a major new venue.”