Show Reviews, Shows, Toronto — May 7, 2016 at 11:45

REVIEW: iHeart Radio Fest


The basement of a well known hotel may not be regarded as the ideal place for a concert, but that was not the case last night as hundreds of fans filled the Sheraton Grand Ballroom for the first annual iHeart Radio Fest.

Sponsored by Virgin Radio, the show was part of Canadian Music Week’s showcases, featuring a wide variety of musical talent.

A long lineup of fans eagerly waited outside as the doors were about to open. There was a mix talk about some of the acts they were excited to see, and some that were new to them. Upon entrance to the room, fans rushed to the front of the barricade to get a first look at what they were going to experience that night.

Jocelyn Alice was the first act of the night, and she made sure to not go unnoticed. Alice, with her strong vocal chops bought a soulful performance while Lisa Jacobs grooved on bass guitar. The singer performed songs off her upcoming EP, and even threw in a little cover of Beyonce’s ‘Diva’. She had a bubbly persona that was very present in between songs as she spoke with the crowd of her excitement to be at the festival.

Next to take the stage was Thunder Bay’s Coleman Hell. Hell has been receiving a lot of attention lately for his single ‘2 Heads’ which has been climbing the charts. The singer brought a sincere amount of energy to the stage as he was seen running back and forth between both sides. His set was filled with exciting blue ominous lighting and a sound so loud that very small pieces of debris from the ceiling could be seen falling onto the stage.

Twenty-year-old Scott Helman brought his guitar and his band on stage with him next. With his quirky behaviour and his fun songs, the audience was seen dancing along to every track. Things slowed down a bit when he played his song ‘Machine’, to which after he confessed the emotional level that song brings him to. Right after though, he was quick to kick things back into gear for the remainder of his set.

Up next was singer Shawn Hook, who used his good charm and musical talent to wow the audience. Going back and forth between fronting the stage and playing the keyboard, Hook played several of the hits off his new album ‘Analog Love’.

Anticipation filled the room as Tegan and Sara were expected to perform next. After having been out of the spotlight for the last 18 months, fans were eager to see the sisters perform. As two microphones sat centre, the sisters took the stage as fans cheered on. They played an excellent mix of some older material, as well as the three singles they’ve released thus far for their up-coming album ‘Love You to Death’ which is expected to be released this June. Tegan and Sara managed to capture a certain ambiance as they would play some more emotional songs and then jump into more dance-like hits. There wasn’t a dull moment.

By 11:00pm, the audience was getting anxious as they waited for New Yorkers X-Ambassadors. The four piece rockers were a little late coming on, but it was worth the wait upon their arrival. Lead singer Sam Harris commanded the audience with a powerful stance playing songs like ‘Hang On’ and ‘Unsteady’. The group closed their set with their massive hit ‘Renegade’.

As the evening drew to a close, there was a buzz in the room as fans could be heard talking about their favourite parts of the show. The audience got to see a great variety of artists, some of which they knew, and some of which they may have just discovered. With this sort of excitement, it’s clear that there could be many more iHeart Radio Festivals to come in future years.

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