In the middle of nowhere, Muskoka, the little town of Bala appears. A quaint, quiet little cottage town with waterfalls and a retro arcade is transformed at night into one of the most infamous venues in Ontario.
The Kee has hosted so many great shows and iconic performers since opening its doors in the summer of 1942. Artists across the board have graced this lakeside pavilion, including The Ramones, Blue Rodeo, Snoop
Dogg Lion, Drake, The Tragically Hip, City and Colour, April Wine, and the list goes on. Not bad for a place that looks, on the outside, like it’s run by the local Rotary Club.
The venue itself, holds only about 720 people, which makes for a unique, intimate concert-going experience with some huge name artists. The floor is wide, open-concept and allows for a great view from just about anywhere in the place. It also helps that the stage is risen about 6 feet off the floor, so you don’t have to worry if you happen to be the shortest person in the room- you still have a killer view. Those lucky enough to make it upstairs for a portion of the evening would be graced with one of the coolest concert views. From the balcony the audience would almost be able to look eye to eye with the performers.
The staff in this place were also exactly what you’d expect from small town folk, they were awesome! Super friendly when pouring drinks, helpful when pointing out the washrooms and security who were ready to joke around at the door. Just keep in mind, at this small venue, they don’t even allow point-and-shoot digital cameras, but are happy to give them back at the end of the show.
Drinks at The Kee will run you about $8 a beer. Not cheap, but not shocking since there is no public transit and the next closest city is Barrie, about an hour away. Unless you are a local, have rented a cottage, or are camping, you’re not getting fucked up. At least not safely. As for food, the venue has a snack kiosk that the promoters had set up with meat on a bun. We got our meal before the show directly next door at the Bala Pub, where we were able to see all kinds of signed posters from bands who had visited the town. Food was reasonably priced pub fare, but a pitcher of beer cost us a whopping $20. You’ve been warned. We were not.
As for the venue’s sound, there’s a reason these big acts come here. The sound was fantastic. The Kee is also quite easy to find, the road into town basically takes you there. If you can’t find it, ask a local. There’s ample amounts of free parking, with most of the spots available just outside the front doors. It’s definitely worth the steep ticket prices to visit the Kee at least once in your lifetime. Make a weekend out of it and do some camping, fishing or hiking.