Western’s One Love Rally returned for its second year last night bringing talented artists and speakers, including former Barenaked Ladies’ singer Steven Page, LGBT activist Lieutenant Dan Choi and singer/songwriter Justin Hines to Western University to speak to frosh about acceptance.
Despite a strange avant-garde introduction, and awkward, sometimes obnoxious MCing by musician Ian Keteku, the One Love Rally was well-organized and constructed with an uninterrupted flow between introducing Western services, including Pride Western and the Women’s Issues Network—along with its keynote speakers and musicians.
Opening the evening’s speakers was Lieutenant Dan Choi, a US Army Veteran who was fired from the army for standing against the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. His talk was incredibly compelling. The multilingual Korean-American used incredible Muslim poetry to get across his message, delivering the lines with an undeniable passion.
Yusra Khogali’s spoken word poetry was a unique and powerful experience. However, her final poem Pants was weak—people who wear their pants hanging down from their knees are definitely a nuisance, but her reasoning linking this to homophobia and ignorance was too much of a stretch.
The Rally would have benefited from a more Canadian context from its speakers. Lieutenant Choi’s story, while incredibly inspirational, is one that exists in a dramatically different political environment and, as a result, doesn’t speak to the Canadian cultural condition as strongly.
Justin Hines opened the musical portion of the Rally’s events. Featuring a full band, Hines had a great sound, but didn’t get the crowd as engaged despite a warm welcome from one very enthusiastic King’s soph.
Ferras was the highlight of the evening. Armed with only his voice and an 80s sounding keyboard, he got the crowd to rush the stage in appreciation during a cover of Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer,” and kept the energy high throughout his entire show and impromptu encore.
Steven Page started slow, but built momentum as he started playing famous Barenaked Ladies songs including “It’s All Been Done” and “Brian Wilson.” He was well-received by the crowd who had waited patiently for him to take the stage.
To use an Arrogant Worms song, the One Love Rally was “like a Meatloaf song, it [had] it’s moments, but it [was] way too long.” With over a four hour running time, the rally saw the crowd start to thin out before Ferras and Steven Page too the stage—a shame because both acts were the musical highlights of the rally.
As an O-Week event, the One Love Rally is a positive addition to programming because of the inspiring speakers and musicians. However, the rally would have benefited from more of a Canadian cultural angle. It will be interesting to see how the One Love Rally evolves in the future as it is made a permanent O-Week event.