Arts

Illustration: Dasser Kamran/Fulcrum
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Curation – great. Sound quality? Not so much. Here’s a look at the new normal for our favourite back-to-school bash

Concert season is BACK, baby!

Oh.

Just kidding. It’s online.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun, right?

Right?

Oh god. Okay. Let’s get ready. 

6 P.M.

I just got home from a day at the Fulcrum office. Today I embraced my inner art hoe with a windowpane-check blazer, black ripped skinny jeans, and my trusty Blundstones (at least one good thing – the days are getting cool enough for comfy boots again). After a summer of sweats and staring into the void, it’s sorta fun to be a person again. 

That said, I’m exhausted.

Normally for a concert (and particularly uOShow), I’d be: a) full of energy, and b) pre-gaming with a group of friends and fellow Gee-Gees.

But it’s COVID-time. So I go into my bedroom and change – not into a crop top and trendy wrap skirt, but into leggings and a sweatshirt. I take off my makeup instead of piling more on. I find my favourite fuzzy socks (they’re from Old Navy and have raccoons on them) and get cozy.

6:30 P.M.

Now, if you live with fellow U of O students who want to make a total Event™ out of digital uOShow, you totally could do that. Pizza would be great. Maybe wings. We’re in Ottawa, so a shared shawarma platter could work.

I don’t live with U of O students, though, so I eat dinner alone. Tonight it’s a sad charcuterie of blackberry yogurt, pretzels, guacamole, and overpriced pineapple chunks. I treat myself to some dark chocolate for dessert.

I text my boyfriend to see if he wants to watch uOShow with me. He doesn’t. Fair, I guess; I think we’re both tired of Facebook events like this.

I kill time on TikTok for a while. I refresh my email a lot. Then Twitter. 

This is my new normal.

7:30 P.M.

Wine.

7:45 P.M.

More.

7:55 P.M.

One more as I pull up the Facebook event.

8:00 P.M.

We’re off to a great start; there’s no sound on the event. Commenters furiously try to get the faceless organizers’ attention as soundless musicians introduce their songs. We see the back-of-house recording software. Something is wrong.

The organizers start the stream over, begging the question – is this actually live? It doesn’t seem like it.

Sigh.

8:10ish P.M.

The Reklaws kick us off, and they’re great! There’s a country twang and super-tight harmonies – things pleasing to the ear. The sound quality isn’t perfect (there’s mic feedback on the louder parts), but these two are a talented duo. I particularly like “You Problem,” which proceeds to stay stuck in my head until Sunday when I finally write this piece (but that’s okay, my editor will only edit it next Friday). 

8:30 P.M.

We the audience bond with our host, Rupaul’s Nina West, a Canadian drag queen and excellent energy boost for this event. She shouts out lots of universities that aren’t ours, and then U of O (this is a shared concert – apparently the coffers are empty at the U of O).

Back-to-school is weird across Canada, I guess. I hope the Arts Editors in Western Canada are having similar experiences covering this event. I send them good vibes as we wait for the next act.

8:40 P.M.

Tyson Ritter from the All-American Rejects broadcasts acoustic versions of mid-2000s hits from his place in New Zealand (the future!). 

Dirty Little Secret still hits as hard as it did in 2005.

9:00 P.M.

My patience is wearing remarkably thin. 

A Tribe Called Red comes on and the sound quality is… rough. Club music like this doesn’t lend itself well to small speakers (or an audience of one). 

I guiltily mute the tab and browse Twitter until the next act comes on (it’s a longer set, nearly half an hour). It’s worth noting Facebook commenters seem pretty stoked by A Tribe Called Red, so more power to them; my tastes just tend to skew more towards a quieter and better-mixed genre.

I resist finishing the bottle of wine, especially with my bed being so close and so tempting.

Someone sends me a meme.

I laugh.

Several days later, because I fell asleep and thankfully U of O archived the uOShow footage

I’m less tired now.

I’m wearing the same leggings and sweatshirt (don’t come for me). It feels as if I haven’t moved from my desk since Thursday night. The sound quality on this event is still so hit-and-miss.

Roy Wood$ does an impressive set; he has a nice voice (the *range*!), and his beats are pretty slick. I conclude this would have been cool live.

Lennon Stella offers us a sweet acoustic set (with great sound quality, thankfully). She’s note-perfect, and gains a new fan in me.

Pink Sweats comes at us with an all-pink setup (super cute) and a smooth R&B/pop set. He has great energy, and finishes off uOShow (or whatever this is) strong.

Y’all, it’s a weird time to be attending concerts, theatre, festivals – the events that add some colour to our everyday lives in normal times. Online uOShow was a little weird; the production standards weren’t uniform (which is no fault of the artists – those tech concerns should have been equally addressed by event organizers), and sound issues made the Facebook video more than a little grating at times.

However, this event had a great mix of genres and feels, and, had this been the background music to a small get-together or maybe Zoom hangout (do people still do those?), this could have been fun.

But for an Arts Editor who misses live cultural events more than anything in the world, uOShow just didn’t hit this year. Facebook Live’s jus1t that little bit too clunky, and the issues with the sound made this event more than a little difficult to cover.

If you want to watch uOShow, the video is still available here.