Article by Samantha Edwards, Now Toronto
As synth-pop duo Phantogram perform their hit song, You Don’t Get Me High Anymore, tiny red and white lights gleam in sync with the music. The blinking radiates from wristbands handed out to concertgoers upon entry, each emblazoned with one word: Aurora.
The New York City band never once utters the word at the free concert at Danforth Music Hall this past July, but it’s all over the place. It’s projected in massive letters onto two walls of the venue and bartenders wear t-shirts branded with it. There’s an “aura” photo booth, which apparently captures the colours of your aura.
One of Canada’s largest federally licensed producers (LPs) of cannabis, Aurora put on the show as part of their summer Illumination Series. According to their website, the series celebrates “music, arts, legalization and culture in all its diversity.”
Throughout the summer, Aurora has organized concerts across the country, including City and Colour in Iqaluit, Kings of Leon in Calgary, Arkells- in Charlottetown and, this past Monday (August 6), Post Malone at the Mod Club.
Like the big beer and liquor companies before them, corporate cannabis is moving in on music festivals. Over the past year, Canadian cannabis companies have teamed up with existing music festivals, such as NXNE, Field Trip and AfroChic, or organized their own shows to establish brand-name recognition ahead of legalization on October 17. At this year’s Canadian Music Week, a panel called Riffs And Reefer discussed the relationship between legal cannabis companies and music festivals.
Music and weed have always been culturally entwined, but this new relationship is decidedly more corporate: indie and DIY music fests can profit off cannabis partnerships, while big cannabis companies can advertise to a specific, young demographic.