Half of the crowd at Zackfest was crying their eyes out on Saturday, Oct. 15.

The benefit concert was organized by friends of former Algonquin student Zack Nourredine, who was killed in a violent robbery in Toronto on Dec. 30, 2015. They planned the 20-act day-long concert in Kanata to raise funds to make up for stolen donations that were intended to go toward the the family last year and to celebrate the life of the young man whose life was taken away too soon.

Shortly after Noureddine’s death, a man who identified himself as Peter Coultas, who claimed to be his former co-worker, reached out to friends and family members letting them know he was opening a GoFundMe page to help cover the funeral expenses for the family. Although the funds were withdrawn, they never reached the family, even after GoFundMe and the police got involved.

This show was meant to make up for that and put the tragedies to rest.

Noureddine’s former band, I Call This Safety, played a very powerful and emotional set, according to the organizer Waylon Fearn.

“It was f—— up, but as soon as they played, there was a spiritual connection I’ve never felt before,” Fearn said. “It felt almost as though he was there.”

“This was the hardest show I’ve ever had to play in my life because of the emotional impact our set carried,” said Ryan Berthiaume, a friend of Zack who played with him in the band We Call This Safety years ago. “But thanks to the support of everyone on hand we were able to pull it off; as fun as our set was up there, it was really hard to play those songs without thinking of all the times i had played them.”

It was a packed and intimate show.

“We were honoured to have been asked to play one last time in front of Zack’s inner circle-” Berthiaume said. “Both his parents and brothers that took us in when we were in the band with him — and made their homes our homes — and his closest friends that helped support our dream of trying to take our music as far as we could when we were a band.”

“These are people that would be at every one of our shows and no doubt had emotional flashes of Zack up there with us while we played. It’s something that is a real punch emotionally when you’re still dealing with the loss of a person you were close with,” Berthiaume continued.

There was a slideshow presented at the end with speeches that were made by three of including Fearn. Fearn had to back out though and pass it to someone else when he got too choked up with emotion.

At the end of the night, they had raised $4,290, all of which Fearn gave to Noureddine’s family when the show was over.