Last weekend, we packed our bags and headed to Toronto to cover hip hop artist Drake’s first annual O.V.O.(October’s Very Own) Festival in support of OurStage “Thank Me Later” winning artist Lokz and backstage correspondent Megan Sumpton. The widely anticipated O.V.O fest was best hyped by Drake himself who promised concertgoers a “magical night.” The excitement grew as Drake personally invited Megan on his tour bus where he admitted he regularly follows her on Twitter. During his interview, Drake spilled the beans to Sumpton that heavyweights Eminem and Jay-Z were going to be joining him during his set. When Drake finally hit the stage later that night, the crowds went wild. The excitement of seeing Drake, Young Jeezy, Bun-B, Francis & The Lights and Lokz was enough to sell out the Molson Amphitheatre, but when Drake said he had some surprises up his sleeve, no one could have expected what was to come. When Jay-Z and Eminem took the stage for the respective performances, the audience twice erupted into a frenzy of screams and cheers. Of course, Drake’s performance stole the show and was the culmination of the day’s events for Lokz, Sumpton and 15,000 devoted fans.
Check out all the backstage video coverage here on OurStage.
When I first found out that HANSON was going to be partnering with OurStage to hold opening band contests for each stop on their “Shout it Out” tour, I thought, “Great! I love getting to check out new music!” I have loved HANSON since I was in fifth grade, and whenever they’re on tour I usually make it a point to see them at least a couple of times, so I knew I was going to be interested in the outcome. I was already familiar with the way OurStage works, as I had judged other channels in the past, and I think it’s a really fair and effective way to determine the most talented and deserving artists within any given category. Then, on top of that, when I found out that OurStage was ALSO giving away two tickets and a meet and greet session with the band for each show, I was all that much more excited to participate in the voting process. Although I’m from Massachusetts, I had planned on going to see HANSON and A Rocket to the Moon in Sayreville, NJ, so I made sure to judge that channel all throughout the month of June. Fortunately for me, all that listening paid off and I was selected as the fan winner for the show! I was beyond thrilled!
I have been fortunate enough to briefly meet HANSON a few times over the course of my travels as a fan, but I had never met them in such an intimate setting before. I was a little nervous but really excited on the day of the show. My friend Michele and I arrived to the Starland Ballroom about an hour and a half before doors, and in addition to the two of us, there was also a group of HANSON fans who had won meet & greets through their fanclub, so we all waited around together until a little before doors opened when we were brought inside to meet HANSON!
The fan clubbers had some time with the band first, while Michele and I waited over to the side and watched them interact. After a few minutes they had finished, and we had our time with Isaac, Taylor and Zac. I have to say, every time I have had the chance to speak with any of the guys from HANSON, they have been more than welcoming. HANSON’s music has had a huge influence on my life, so you would think it would be hard for me to even form words around the guys, but they are so down to earth that it feels more like talking to old friends than meeting my idols! We took our group picture and then I asked the guys to sign a photobook that I had brought with me. There was a little debate on whether they should sign the front or the inside, so they ended up signing both. Haha! We talked for a few minutes, and I put in a request for them to play their song “I Will Come to You” during the show that night. The meet and greet ended with a round of hugs, and then Michele and I walked back through the venue to the stage.
Doors were already open by the time we were finished, but they must not have been open for long because the 2nd row over to the side was still open! Free tickets, a meet & greet, AND a great spot for the show? Incredible! And then on top of all that, the whole show was fantastic! The OurStage opener for Sayreville was called Brightside Drive and they were really talented. They had a really upbeat pop/rock sound that was perfect for getting pumped for the rest of the night. I definitely enjoyed their set and would encourage other people to check out their music. A Rocket to the Moon went on next, and I was really excited to see them play. I have not been able to stop listening to their album On Your Side since it came out last fall, and they performed quite a few songs from that record, including their song “Like We Used To” which is one of my favorites, so I was stoked. They started things off with a stellar cover of Tom Petty’s “American Girl”, too. I loved it.
Finally, HANSON came onstage. At this point, I have been to over 30 HANSON concerts, and I think this one takes the cake for my favorite show and setlist. They played quite a few songs from their newest album Shout it Out, in addition to a bunch of old favorites, plus a couple of rare songs and some great covers as well. It was just an overall great, well-rounded show. Highlights included “I Will Come to You” (which I had requested that they play during the meet and greet), Taylor’s solo “Never Let Go” (one of my favorite songs”this was my first time hearing it live), “More than Anything” (a rarely-performed ballad from back in the day), “Thinking ‘Bout Somethin'” (Hanson’s new single), “Penny & Me” (a fan favorite), and a cover of Sam & Dave’s “Hold On, I’m Coming”.
It was an incredibly high-energy performance, enhanced by the crowd’s enthusiasm and singing along with every word. HANSON ended the show with a cover of AC/DC’s “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock & Roll)”. Taylor jumped up on his piano right above where we were standing in the crowd, and then at the very end of the song both Zac and Taylor jumped off the drum kit. It was absolutely amazing! What a great way to end the night. I could not have imagined a better day, between the meet & greet, the awesome opening bands and HANSON’s incredible setlist and performance. I don’t know that it will ever be topped. I have to send out a HUGE thank you to HANSON, and especially to OurStage. You guys are the best! Thank you so much for this opportunity!
Last week, we caught up with Ashley Matte, Annie Bethancourt, Terra Naomi and Xolie Morra to hear about their experiences performing at the 2010 Lilith Fair. This week, we are featuring the latest batch of Lilith winners and their stories. In case you haven’t heard, OurStage partnered with Lilith in April to give aspiring female solo artists and female-fronted groups the opportunity to play at the famous festival on stops across the US this summer. Since last week, OurStage winning artists Sarah Swenson, Katie Todd, duo Amanda Lucas and Audrey Cecil, and The Airplanes have all performed their sets, and we caught up with them afterward to hear how things went. From their stories it’s clear that each artist had a unique experience, but what they share in common is the increased exposure to new fans and the chance to stand side by side with some of the world’s top female performers.
Singer-songwriter Sara Swenson performed at the Kansas City stop of the festival alongside artists the likes of Emmylou Harris, Heart, Sarah McLachlan, and Ingrid Michaelson. It was an unforgettable experience, from the buzz of interviews and excitement of fans beforehand to the fun photos and feedback afterward,” recalls Swenson. “It was a dream to be on the same bill as Sarah McLachlan and the other ladies on the Lilith Tour, and both playing a set to an attentive and enthusiastic audience on a secondary stage and sharing the big stage with all of the headlining artists for the finale were experiences I’ll never forget.
Recently, singer-songwriters Amanda Lucas and Audrey Cecil combined forces to perform and write as a duo. At their Lilith performance in Indianapolis, Cecil and Lucas played songs to the largest crowd on the tour for the first performer of the day. Playing at Lilith Fair has created more of a buzz than we have ever experienced up to this point,” commented the duo. “By the time we were two songs in, our stage area was packed. Since returning from Lilith fair, we have had constant fan requests/chatter on our social networking sites and web page. In the upcoming year, Cecil and Lucas have plans to record their first album together and hit the road to play dates in many US cities.
At the end of the day, each winning artist had the opportunity to perform a special finale on stage with all the other acts on the bill. Katie Todd, winner for Chicago, recalls the experience: I really enjoyed the sense of camaraderie amongst all of the musicians. For the finale, Sarah McLachlan had all of the artists who performed that day up on the main stage singing ‘Because the Night’ by Patti Smith, and I’m still on a high from that experience. You can watch a video of Todd onstage with McLachlan, Heart and Mary J. Blige, to name a few, here.
The results are in and the band Hotspur has come out on top as the grand prize winner of the NMS Artist on the Verge competition on OurStage. The focus of the competition was to expose aspiring artists to top media, tech and music industry executives and give them a jump start to their careers. Hotspur was one of three finalists who made it to the New Music Seminar in New York to showcase their talents in front of some of the music industry’s top brass. The seminar was attended by major players from companies such as MySpace, Facebook, ReverbNation, Tommy Boy Records and, of course, OurStage.
Bands were stopping by our NMS booth all day to show their love and we even had to call in the reinforcements for more swag to give away! We were there later that night when all three bands performed live in a showcase at Santo’s Party House. After hearing great performances from each of the finalists, the folks from NMS named Hotspur winners of the competition. The band will receive a grand prize package worth more than $50,000! Contents of the package include a Gibson SG Raw Power Guitar, a custom-designed website, a music business toolbox, and much more!
“There were a ton of our diehard fans, friends and family who spent many hours that they were supposed to be working or spending at school voting for us instead . . . and they got us to this point,” the band commented. “To all the fans and everybody at OurStage, we hope this is a big step for us and we have you guys to thank.” Check out Hotspur’s music and OurStage profile here.