LOLA Fest brings art stars and indie gods to London

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009


The second annual London Ontario Live Arts Festival (LOLA) promises to be even bigger than the first.

Last year, the music and art festival generated an incredible amount of buzz and excitement among Londoners. LOLA director and owner of The Alex P. Keaton Andrew Francis is building on the solid reputation of last year’s event and increasing the scope of the festival’s coverage.

“LOLA began last year as an initiative to introduce a broader audience to progressive art and music,” Francis says. “It’s large-scale and commercially viable, without compromising artistic integrity.”

The festival’s artsy atmosphere encourages the community to get in touch with the local art and music scenes. LOLA also offers attendees a chance to get in on the ground floor with some of independent music’s up-and-comers.

This year’s Canadian indie darlings, Tokyo Police Club, were relatively unknown when they played LOLA last year. However, this year LOLA has gone international.

“Acts are coming from all over North America to perform,” Francis says. “It’s also helping Canadian acts get stateside exposure.

“So go to LOLA to try new things and hear emerging bands that will only grow in popularity in the coming months,” Francis urges.

As far as concerts go, it’s not a big risk. All outdoor shows in Victoria Park are free, which allows you to come and go as you please.

Paid shows at Call the Office, The Alex P. Keaton, Rum Runners and The London Music Club cost no more than $18 at the door " and all tickets are cheaper when purchased in advance.

The opening show, taking place Thursday night at Rum Runners, has a stellar line-up. For $15 in advance, you’ll get to see indie headliners Prefuse 73, OK Cobra, Stop Die Resuscitate and more.

But there’s more to LOLA than music. While there were visual artists at last year’s festival, art plays a bigger role this year.

This year’s big-ticket artist is Brian Eno, the famed music producer who has worked with the likes of U2, Talking Heads and Coldplay. The Canadian premiere of Eno’s installation “77 Million Paintings” will be at LOLA.

If Eno’s music credibility isn’t enough of a draw, the depth and variety of his work should be.

“There are 77 million different audio-visual possibilities to Eno’s work as it continually changes,” Francis says. “You could stay for two minutes or two hours and keep coming back and it would be a different spectacle.”

Many of LOLA’s visual art installations will be projected onto the side of downtown buildings.

Through these projection works, LOLA organizers hope to counteract lagging attendance at museums and art galleries by turning downtown London itself into an art show.

“We’re bringing art galleries to people,” Francis says. “It’s very accessible.”

With heavy-hitters in music and visual art rocking LOLA all weekend, the entertainment options are endless.

“We want London to be happening all across the board,” Francis says. “For a couple of nights, at least.”

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