Ross’ Rants: Lights acts invisible at U-Fest
Turns out no press is actually bad press
Last year when The Arkells came to Mount Royal, we had a special request to send the band’s manager all shots we intended to use so that they could approve them. This was done in an effort to make sure that only pictures that showed the best of The Arkells would make it into print.
What we were told is that since they were an up and coming band, they wanted pictures to reflect the rest of what their tour had looked like, as the band was playing in much larger venues which had no problem holding more attendees than Wyckham House could.
They were touring with The Tragically Hip at the time, and didn’t want a smaller show’s pictures to reflect just how popular the band was becoming. At the time, I understood their request. The Arkells’ fanbase has seemed to grow every year, and it just seemed as though it was simple public relations to ensure that the band looked as though they were playing shows that reflected that.
Besides, it wasn’t as if they weren’t allowing photos at all.
That brings us to Lights – the headlining act for this year’s U-Fest. Hours before the event, word came down that no photos were to be taken of Lights during her performance, end of story. Lights – who fits in the same up-and-coming category as The Arkells – seemingly just didn’t want to be photographed at such a minor event.
Lights is still riding the success of her breakout album, Siberia, which garnered her not only a Juno nomination, but helped her make her biggest splash in the electro-pop scene yet. Her touring of Siberia also included a big tour of the United States — with The Arkells coincidentally enough, which may have been where she picked up the idea to limit media, albeit to a harsher degree.
At what point did we decide that no press was good press? U-Fest, which is much smaller than other welcome back festivals for post-secondary schools, was a success by all means. While Mount Royal’s limited numbers mean that it isn’t a bursting venue packed with students, this is a great method for artists to connect with their fans.
The week after Lights’ performance, Craig Cardiff took the stage at The Hub, which is an even smaller venue for an artist. While Cardiff doesn’t have the same kind of star power as Lights, between inviting students up with him and being friendly with the crowd, it left a much more memorable impact on the audience (read Noise 101 this issue for proof).
Instead, Lights comes off as too good for Mount Royal, which is a giant slap in the face to everyone who not only attended the show, but every student and faculty member at MRU. Whether or not it was her intent – and I’m willing to admit it most likely was not – the act of not allowing herself to be photographed at the campus sends a message that she isn’t here to perform for us, she’s here to sing her songs and go.
We may not be the venue artists aspire to play at, but this school is filled with students who want to be proud of where they go, and instead they have yet another reason not to be.