June 20, 2019

Students and guests packed the recreation centre for a concert by Alessia Cara and special guest Local Only Sound Thursday night at Conestoga College’s Doon campus.

Despite the fact ticket sales had gotten off to a slow start, more than 1,000 people were in attendance for what the student association said was its biggest show ever.

“This is great. We just sold our last tickets with not even an hour left till the show. I couldn’t be happier with the way this is going,” said Zack Dodge, Conestoga Students Inc.’s marketing and events manager.

The evening started off with a private meet-and-greet between Cara and a group of VIP contest winners, as well as CSI board members and staff. The behind-the-scenes treatment included a photo opportunity with the star, autographs and an impromptu sound check performance by Cara.

This was Cara’s first time on the Conestoga campus, despite growing up in nearby Brampton, and she said she was enjoying the hospitality.

“I never went to college or university, so going to shows like this make me feel like I’m experiencing the college life a little bit,” said Cara. She went on to say that the lifestyle still doesn’t feel real yet. “I don’t think it ever will. It becomes the norm but it still feels like some weird dream state.”

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Once the doors opened, it didn’t take long to fill up the college’s recreation centre with bodies. There were just shy of 1,000 tickets sold, plus another approximately 50 guests and a couple dozen CSI staff there for the event. VIP guests were also treated to a private meal and balcony seating.

The show included a fully licensed area that was run by the staff at Conestoga’s on campus pub, The Venue, and had pizza and non-alcoholic drinks for sale near the band merchandise tables.

The opening band was Local Only Sound, a Toronto based music collective headed by Curtis Smith and Gray Hawken and featuring the talent of artists Malachi, who was recently signed by Universal Music and celebrated his first album release at midnight that evening, and Vincent Darby, a U.K.-based R&B artist, who was performing his first Canadian show that night.

After a quick appearance from the CSI board, complete with a T-shirt giveaway, Cara lit up the stage by kicking off her set with her breakout hit, “Here”, the song that launched her career in 2015. Her set was nearly cut short when Cara stopped in the middle of her fourth song to break up a fight when a scuffle broke out in the front row of the crowd.

“Are you guys good? No fighting or we’re not going to sing, guys. Don’t hate each other; take a selfie,” Cara announced over the sound system.

The involved parties were removed from the venue and the night continued with no more interruptions as Cara performed several of her hits from her latest album, The Pains of Growing.

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