By Emma Hyde
When Juno award-winning artist Lights left the stage after her single Up We Go, the Algonquin Commons Theatre erupted with the sounds of fans stomping, cheering, chanting, screaming, and banging on the walls until she returned to the stage.
The Canadian artist brought the crowd to their feet on Oct. 16 when she returned to the college with her techno-pop music for the fourth time.
“I always love coming back here,” Lights said in an interview before the show. “It’s got a good vibe.”
And she told the audience the same thing, exuberantly drumming her hands on her keyboard.
The crowd was just as exuberant when the first note of Where the Fence is Low hit their ears partway through the show. They screamed and cheered and enthusiastically clapped along as the song unfolded.
“I’ve seen her a few times, and she’s always great,” said Taylor Trudel, a student in the music industry arts program as she waited in the merchandise line.
After doing some preliminary shows in London, Kitchener, and Hamilton without their full set, Algonquin was the first stop on the tour.
Algonquin was also the first time Lights met with her opening act, Rush Midnight.
The opening act got started in the music industry back in 2010 with his band Twin Shadow, but recently branched out on his own.
“It’s all about meeting the right people,” said Russ Manning, the main artist for Rush Midnight. “It’s like they say. You need two of three things: luck, talent, and hard work.”
The band was excited to be touring with Lights, and were anticipating tour dates in New York, where Manning is from.
And although not many students knew of them before the show, the fans responded well to the band.
“It was fun,” Manning said after the show. “The crowd was really engaged.”
And when Lights walked out into the blue light of the stage, that engagement and enthusiasm only grew.
When she started out with Muscle Memory from her newest album, she was pleasantly surprised when the crowd was able to sing along.
“Getting to be in this environment where so many people are singing along to something only a few people knew for so long,” Lights said. “It’s so special.”
With one hand on her microphone and the other on her synthesizer, she had the whole crowd clapping along as the set moved to crowd favourites, Toes, off her second album, and her single, Boots.
“It was amazing,” said Stephanie Hunter, a first-year student in the developmental services worker program. “I was bawling for a couple of songs. Seeing her is something I can cross off of my bucket list.” She wore her Lights t-shirt that she had purchased just before, and hopefully waited for Lights to come out to meet the fans.
But it was when she played Drive My Soul, from her first album that the crowd really got excited. Almost everyone in the room was on their feet, singing loudly and clearly enough that Lights left it up to them to finish the song.
“What works well live leaks into the music,” Lights said. “Every time I make a new album it’s that much more fun to play.”
She’s always put a lot of work into her albums, and it’s been the negative parts of her life that have helped her in her career.
After moving out for the first time, she was faced with a lot of emotional issues. But it was taking those issues, and channeling them into her work that helped her music take off.
To her, it’s important to find something creative to keep you distracted from the things you have difficulty with.
“Creativity is like an exorcism for that,” she said. “Every time I finish something productive, whether it’s painting or writing a song, I feel so powerful after. You feel productive in the end.”
Algonquin was the first time that the artist played her song Same Sea live, and the response was a good one. Before the song she asked the crowd to sing along if they knew the words, and they didn’t hesitate to oblige.
They danced as they sang, and gave an extra round of applause when the song came to a close.
Lights was left grinning. “That was fun.”
Her goal has always been to make music that reaches as many people as possible.
Between songs, the artist asked her fans to donate to the World Vision booth set up in the main lobby. She told them all about her connection to the Philippines, and the 24 children they had already helped there, encouraging them to help more.
“Music is very powerful. I’ve always understood that from a young age,” she said. “And I know that you need to use your powers for good.”
In February, Lights became a mother to her daughter Rocket. She was still finishing up Muscle Memory until just hours before going into labour, and was back in studio just three days later.
It’s affected her work, but in small ways.
“I respect the moments that need to be respected,” she said. “You cut the fat on the things you stress about and focus on what matters.”
Lights returned for an encore when the crowd wouldn’t stop cheering and calling her back and finished off the night with the room washed in red light as she performed Oil and Water, one of the songs off her latest album which was released Sept. 28.