108th Grey Cup – Thank You!

December 16th, 2021

You know when you go to the theatre and the cast comes out at the end of the night and they start thanking everyone who was working behind the scenes to make the show happen? They’re usually all teary eyed, and begin motioning to the orchestra pit, the director, and the lighting person while mouthing “bravo!” and “thank you!” It’s usually quite an emotional affair. If you’ve never been a part of a production, you might think the cast is faking this celebration.

After The Grey Cup this weekend… we get it. The halftime show was truly like nothing we’ve ever done before, yet it was also the combination of all of the friendships and creative partnerships we’ve formed and learned from over the years. Mike, Nick, Anthony, Tim and I are very grateful for everyone we got to collaborate with.

We had a little under a month to put together the show. And we worked on it every day to get every detail right. We started with the setlist as the foundation of everything and then built it up from there. K.Flay signed up immediately for the occasion and The Lumineers confirmed shortly after. We wanted a level of musical collaboration you haven’t seen at past halftime shows. Both acts couldn’t have been more gracious, collaborative, and inspiring.

We’ve done so much with The Northern Soul Horns and Arkettes that we’ve developed a shorthand with each other. As a unit, the goal is to bring as much emotion, musicality, charisma, and joy as you have. The big soul band that we are feels unstoppable. They were up for the occasion in every possible way.

We also brought a choreographer – a first for us! Omega Mighty (the sister of Haviah – our tour mate) guided all of the group movement for the set. None of us are accomplished dancers, but we all committed to moving together. If you’ve seen David Byrne and The Taking Heads you know that you don’t need to be Beyoncé to dance. You just have to care.

We also worked with Alex and Marie Nadon – the team that heads up InFrame design. They helped shape our goals and turn any obstacles (example: no fans on the field) into visually stunning moments (“let’s build a grandstand *behind* the stage and get the fans in the frame!”).

Our stylist Caitlin made us all look fabulous. Our photographer Nathan and videographer Korey captured all the key moments. Our touring crew Jordan, Ryan, Ryan, and Chris made sure all the instruments were working right. Eric has the job (among other things) of herding a bunch of cats (us) and he does it with a smile.

The folks at the CFL, TSN, PRP and Tim Hortons Field were accommodating in every way. From the announce video, to the promo, to the set itself, they were supportive and allowed us to lead on all fronts.

Tony, Mad, Jeffrey and the crew at Universal Music have been working on “Arkells + Grey Cup halftime show” for a few years. You can imagine there’s a fair amount of politicking when it comes to choosing the entertainment, and the stars aligned this year. We wanted to make em’ proud.

Our manager Chris connected the dots with The Lumineers and first introduced the idea of having them up. Sarah took care of all the pesky details. And of course Ash had eyes on literally all of it. She was in communication with literally every single person I’ve mentioned here. This doesn’t happen without her hall-of-fame level of attention to detail.

So this is us, at curtain call, standing at the front of the stage, all teary eyed, thanking everyone who poured their heart and soul into making the halftime show what it was. You can re-watch it here. We’re super proud of it. Hope you enjoyed every detail. 

Thank you!