Ringing in the holiday season has never had us as starry-eyed as we were this past Friday when we attended the first-ever iHeartRadio Canada Jingle Ball North, which featured a packed line-up of some of the hottest acts in music. Kent Jones, Serena Ryder, Belly, Niall Horan, Alessia Cara, The Chainsmokers, Hedley and The Weeknd helped spread the festive cheer across the Air Canada Centre; but we – quite literally – physically felt what happened when the artists brought the heat to the stage.
Our friends at Virgin Mobile Canada invited us for an all-access VIP event at Jingle Ball North which went beyond your average guestlist experience. From the red carpet entrance, we checked our coats and belongings in exchange for passes and wristbands that gave us access to a members-only lounge. Warmed with red lighting and tons of pre-show treats, the Live In Limbo team along with the contest winners were able to comfortably relax, mingle, get creative with their GIF photo booth and charge up (phones and otherwise) in the lounge before an explosive night of music and celebration. We appreciated the chance to kickback even more when we realized that Virgin Mobile didn’t treat “up close and personal” as a figure of speech, but as an opportunity to bring us straight to the artists we all love in spacious fan pits that were, get this: right. on. stage.
For the entire night, we danced and sang while performers like Serena Ryder brought the stomping rhythms of her music, Jacob Hoggard spun wildly during Hedley’s set and Alessia Cara stunned the audience with her powerhouse vocals. For a stadium-wide show, we often felt like we were in our own snow globe, closely tied to everyone on stage that allowed us to forget that there was a whole stadium filled with fans surrounding us. That is, until Niall Horan from One Direction was greeted with overwhelmingly loud screams and a whole sky of waving lights, reminding us how easily and powerfully music can connect us (especially in the form of a dreamy acoustic performance).
The Weeknd capped off Jingle Ball North with a phenomenal twelve-song set of some of his most popular and recent hits, including “Earned It”, “The Hills”, “Starboy” and . Underscored by the release of his new album Starboy (which came out the same day), the performance felt extra celebratory for his hometown crowd. For those of us lucky enough to be within arms reach of The Weeknd, amidst the strobes and elaborate set piece, we had an unforgettably intimate experience with the now bonafide pop star, one that will be difficult to replicate as he inevitably becomes bigger and bigger. Thanks to Virgin Mobile Canada, members were a part of the history of someone who is going to make music history. We’ll scream a little more for that.