The area is home to several record stores and has hosted free outdoor gigs by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Ricky Martin – events that drew thousands of people and tied up traffic.

R.E.M’s one-of-a-kind show comes two days after the release of the band’s new album, Reveal, and is the street-corner hootenanny on the band’s North American schedule.

The group last played Toronto in 1999, nearly selling out the 16,000-seat Molson Amphitheatre.

The band recently did a promotional stint in Europe and played a set in London’s Trafalgar Square April 29 commemorating the 10th anniversary of the end of apartheid in South Africa.

That show was upstaged by guitarist Peter Buck’s arrest for allegedly assaulting two flight crew members on a trip from Seattle to London April 21. Buck appeared in court April 23 and was freed on £30,000 bond.