Experiencing the Juno Awards live for the first time

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For the first time since it started in 1970, the Juno Awards were officially being hosted in London, Ontario. Coincidentally, for the first time since I started in 1994, I was officially living in London, Ontario. It was fate.

If you’re a music fan, you understand that somehow our modestly populated country is absolutely crammed with musical talent. I’ve lost count of the times I looked up one of my favourite musicians only to realize that they were proudly Canadian.

Some of the top artists in the world call our gigantic and beautiful land home, so obviously this show is something I didn’t want to miss. Award shows are very odd to experience live. During the show, a phrase that kept circling my mind was “fake concert.”

The performances were almost perfected with the hopes of promoting bands that were already popular enough to represent the best in Canadian music, yet each group was only permitted to play one of their top hits, usually  condensing the song into an altered short version.

Of course, the night isn’t dedicated to only one band or genre, so this is to be expected.

It can’t be easy to represent the Canadian music industry perfectly, however, a range of diverse artists got time in the spotlight – legacy performer Corey Hart, new and upcoming hip-hop artist NAV, French Singer Coeur De Pirate and First Nations performer Jeremy Dutcher were among many performances that represented the medley of the Canadian music landscape.

I stood watching the show on the floor of the venue, wedged shoulder-to-shoulder with other audience members.

In a weird moment of the night, I realized that the celebrities were seated in the stands to my left and right.

Canada’s music industry is filled with talent in every category of music, so it was nice to get a taste of each live performance like they were samples at a Costco.

The Arkells, one of my favourite Canadian rock bands, sat close enough that I could call out to them without straining my voice.

On the opposite end sat The Sheepdogs – also one of my favourite Canadian rock bands. I felt strange being near two musical groups that have been dominating my playlists for years, as they sat lounging around enjoying the show, just as I was doing.

The crowd cheered when Ewan Currie stood and waved to the crowd below as he got up to leave his seat. It couldn’t have been a coincidence that when he furled his coat on his way out the door an aroma of weed filled the room. I didn’t mind – that man created Future Nostalgia.

Seeing these artists “in the flesh” was a reminder of the humanity of celebrities.

No matter how famous or successful a musician becomes, they’re not much different than the average person. Sure, they’re successful in a highly crowded industry, but they must work very hard to remain employed.

I spent (too much) money to attend this show, but for the members of The Arkells or The Sheepdogs, this night was a work event to promote their music.

Their job is personal brand upkeep that will keep their fans interested and going to the shows, buying the merchandise and streaming the music.

Overall, the Junos were a great time. There’s something about the live experience that evokes the type of energy required to truly appreciate music.

As some movies are meant to be experienced in a theatre with the top of the line sound on a huge screen with crystal clear picture quality, some music is designed to be played at a deafening volume in a room full of fans.

When the whole crowd is at the mercy of the performer and the bass is shaking your clothes, it’s hard not to lose yourself in the moment.

Canada’s music industry is filled with talent in every category of music, so it was nice to get a taste of each live performance like they were samples at a Costco.

The beers may have been $13.50 at Budweiser Gardens on the night of the Junos, but the event was good enough not to need one.

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