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Everybody Love Everybody Festival Launch- Ottawa

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June 21, Babylon Nightclub, Ottawa

When Ottawa was named Canada’s most boring city last month, locals took it seriously.  Newspapers and radio stations campaigned against the title. Twitter raged against the insult.

It appears that the Ottawa music scene is also fighting back. On Friday, June 21, local fans and artists gathered at Babylon Nightclub for the ELE Fest Launch Party. The first in a series of events from this new, collaborative music festival, the Launch Party featured local rock bands (The Lionyls, Madison & Fifth) alongside hip hop artists J.A.H., Neegus, Wolfie, and Black Jesus.  The attendees and artists made their case proudly: Bands turned up their amps, rappers flawlessly delivered line after line, a crowd of over 200 loyally chanted “613!”, and some guy in an ELEphant costume danced eagerly to the beats.  If the organizers of ELE Fest were trying to prove that Ottawa music is alive (and definitely not boring!), they certainly succeeded.

Proving that Ottawa knows how to party is impressive enough, but ELE Fest has an even more ambitious goal. With its debut set for September 20, 2013, the festival seeks to “put the love back in the music,” by fostering a new collective attitude in the Ottawa music scene.  By bringing together talented young artists from all genres, ELE wants to make a major statement about the city’s musical potential and positivity.

“ELE stands for everybody love everybody,” ELE organizers explain. “From what we’ve seen, the Ottawa music scene fosters more than enough talent to make this festival a success. We have great venues, and extremely talented musicians. Let’s make this city ELE-lectric.”

Based on Friday’s launch party, ELE Fest definitely has all the ingredients for a successful venture: talented performers, good music, great fans and a smart line up.  The energy on Friday night reached a high around midnight: die-hards donning official Neegus t-shirts crowded around as the rapper doled out verse after verse, eventually crowd-surfing off the stage and passing the excited audience to organizing band The Lionyls.  With their edgy, soulful sound and outrageous lead singer, it wasn’t hard for The Lionyls to keep the crowd moving–imagine the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, only with a guy like Freddie Mercury center stage.  Their technical talent and a couple classic covers kept my inner music nerd happy, while the dancing crowd had me wondering how anyone could call a city like this boring.

Halfway through their set, The Lionyls invited local rapper Wolfie on stage.  Sure, the crowd surfing and head banging was pretty great, but this was the moment when the very essence of ELE Fest really shone through.  Collaboration is really at the heart of the festival’s vision, and the group nailed it. Together, Wolfie and The Lionyls  produced an original sound, for a responsive audience, in a fun venue. Triple threat.

As with any show featuring several artists, there were high points and low points to the launch; as the audience built up and thinned out over the night, the energy sometimes faded. In the end, however, a supportive crowd and some amazing performances made the evening a success. I think everyone who went to Babylon on Friday night left knowing exactly what they would be doing on September 20, 2013.

The first annual ELE Fest will be presented rain or shine on Friday, September 20, 2013, from 5pm to 11pm (Tabaret Lawn, University of Ottawa).  You can learn more about ELE Fest and check out other summer events at

-Shauna Vert