What began in 2006 as a day-long arts festival has grown into some kind of multi-limbed artistic monster, as the fourth annual London Ontario Live Arts (LOLA) Festival gets set to showcase a plethora of musical, visual and trans-media arts from September 17 to 20.
Musical headliners include experimental pop band Slaraffenland, Final Fantasy, Akron/Family and UK-based jazz quintet Polar Bear, led by drummer Seb Rochford, of the Hendrix-inspired jazz band Acoustic Ladyland and an early player in Pete Doherty's Babyshambles. Often compared to post-rock outfits Sigur Rós, Talk Talk and Radiohead, Polar Bear's new self-titled album is the band's first since 2005's Mercury-nominated Held on the Tips of Fingers - a nominee of both Jazzwise's "100 Jazz Albums That Changed the World" and the Guardian's "1,000 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die."
Much like their auditory counterparts, visual art at LOLA includes an array of public art across a variety of media, as London's Victoria Park will be transformed into an expansive outdoor gallery featuring large-scale projections on building exteriors, outdoor advertising space, neon signage, street theatre and generative art projects by artists from across the globe.
Joining in the fun is Berlin/Meaford, ON artist Gordon Monahan, who aside from headlining the Trans>Media stage, will be exhibiting his installation Two Pianos Talking to Each Other, a giant stereo system that uses pianos instead of speakers. There will also be appearances by Governor General Award-winner Michael Snow and Ottawa percussionist/visual artist Jesse Stewart, who will be performing and showcasing Pyrophonic Harmonics, a video projection of blowtorch flames producing musical pitches inside glass tubes.
"LOLA is not just a music festival, or an art festival," says artistic director Paul Walde in a press release, "we are merging music and art within one festival and our Trans>Media stage takes that concept to a whole new level."
While you're in the London area, why not check out the LOLA 2009 Exclaim! After Party. Friday night's line-up features performances by Chicago's Colorlist, Torontonians Stop Die Resuscitate and London, ON's Riderless. The fun continues on Saturday with London DJ Jonathan Coe and Toronto DJs Rod Skimmins and Makeshift (aka Jeremy Glenn).
If you can't make it over to London and still want a taste of the LOLA action, you can catch Polar Bear after they make the flight across the Atlantic when they hit the stage at the Rex in Toronto on September 18.