Client: Private Birthday Party
Venue: Hotel Quintessence, Mont-Tremblant, QC
Program: U Rock
Yesterday was the first day of ski season at Mont-Tremblant and the hill was busy with alpine enthusiasts making their way down the slope. When guests for this private birthday weekend showed up they were probably expecting an activity involving snow and ice. What a surprise then when Rock the Stars crew burst into their hospitality suite.
Bands were quickly formed and rock and roll name tags were distributed. Then each band was escorted to suites that had been transformed into rehearsal studios, complete with drums, guitars, keyboards and microphones. The bands then rewrote the lyrics to well known classic rock songs, using the birthday guest as their muse and subject. After dressing in rock star costumes each band then learned how to play the song they had written.
As the groups performed for each other it was apparent that the guests had a great deal of affection for their host. The songs that were written were sweet, funny and revealed as much about the authors as about their subject. When the group performances were concluded there was just enough time for a spirited group sing-along of Sweet Caroline, followed by an encore of Born to be Wild.
A quick note about Hotel Quintessence. The staff at this beautiful inn were completely wonderful. They totally embraced our program and made the experience great for our facilitators as well as our client. We work in hotels all the time, but usually in function and meeting rooms. Setting up rehearsal studios in living suites at a fully booked hotel, knowing that there would be some rocking, took a great deal of preparation and planning and it was very much appreciated. Also, with an infinity pool and a pristine lake as its backyard, and Mont-Tremblant itself as its front yard, this hotel is one of the most beautiful hotels we have ever experienced.
Client: Mosiac Sales Solutions
Venue: The Jam, Toronto, ON
Program: U Rock
Our preferred Toronto venue has been revitalized. The Jam, a member-run music club in the northwest part of Toronto, has long been our go-to place for daytime team building events. It has a great vibe that is partly corporate and partly rock and roll, and features a huge performance atrium suitable for groups as large as 200.
This was our first event here since a change of management occurred and we were thrilled to bring a very exciting program and a new client to this venue.
This program is informally called “The School of Rock” because it incorporates so many great activities. As well as forming bands and learning to play a song the group did set design, wardrobe, rock history trivia and a photo shoot. Each team came up with a band name and designed a logo which they turned into a drum head and a banner. When they were ready to perform the room was transformed into a rock and roll concert hall, complete with lasers and fog.
Southern Love and 7VD2 began the show with inspired performances that brought the crowd to the front of the stage in an amazing show of support. The Warren Paisleys and Jesse’s Girls continued the winning trend with stellar renditions of “Hit the Road Jack” and “I Wanna Be Sedated”. But ultimately the night was a showdown between Diamond and the Streakers and Thrust with the latter’s version of “5oo Miles” earning them the top prize.
Client: Hill + Knowlton Strategies
Venue: Polson Pier, Toronto, ON
Program: Battle of the Airbands
The Polson Pier venue, best known for its biggest room, Sound Academy, and formerly known as The Docks, is Toronto’s waterfront gem. Jutting into Lake Ontario, just east of the downtown core, this multi-use facility boast a postcard-perfect view of the Toronto skyline with the CN Tower, the island and the island airport all part of the vista.
But tonight all eyes were on the stage of the Muskoka room. The performance area was back lit by a glorious sunset when the first band took the stage. Running With Scissors In The Ukraine may have had the longest band name of the evening, but it didn’t take long for them to show how sharp their performance chops were. More excellent performances came from The Voluntolds, The Sexy As and Rebels With A Strategy.
Team Yolo demonstrated great choreography, and the Off Key Messengers were pure rock and roll. But there were two groups that really expanded on the performance criteria to make their songs memorable. No matter how little I say about Corporal Deviants rendition of “Roxanne” I will have still said too much. And H+K Pink Ladies knock out punch “You’re the One that I Want” was beyond joyful. These performances, coupled with great judging from the client’s leadership team, made for an evening that will be long remembered.
Client: Organization withheld
Venue: Manoir St Sauveur, Quebec
Program: Battle of the Airbands
This program was part of a meeting for a school board responsible for the education of a unique group of young people. The conference was meant to address the friction between management and educators. Rock the Stars was called in to facilitate an activity that would improve relationships within the group by asking them to collaborate on a task that was unique for them. In the same way that their ultimate professional goal is to educate their students, their goal for this activity was to put aside their differences and work together toward achieving this.
A rock band is a team. It is just like any other team. It requires communication and collaboration to function efficiently. It requires people with different strengths and different personalities. It requires respecting those differences. When that happens a team, or band, can come up with creative solutions to complex challenges.
In this case the challenge was to plan an air band performance that could win an “Idol” style competition. The complication was the contestants’ real life professional relationships are tense. The conference workshops were meant to address the groups differences to help them work better as a team. Our program provided a unique and fun way to put this into practice.
The actual competition was amazing. Every performance was great, and there were standouts that deserve mention, but for this event it wasn’t important who won. Watching the groups learn to work together in order to share the experience was rewarding enough.
Client: Shoppers Drug Mart
Venue: Picnic area at SDM Headquarters
Program: Battle of the Airbands
The weather office was fairly pessimistic about how this day would turn out. They seemed to think that rain was inevitable. But the people organizing this amazing company picnic were undaunted by the forecast and vowed that the event, and show, would go on, rain or shine. They had a wonderful party planned for 900 of their employees, including barbecue, a photo booth and vendors. Most importantly, the organizers had hired Rock the Stars to facilitate a Battle of the Airbands, and ten incredible groups had been practicing for weeks for their opportunity to perform for their colleagues. The weather would not get in the way.
The three celebrity judges took their positions and the show started with a riotous rendition of “When I’m Sixty-Four”. This was followed by great performances of “Moves Like Jagger”, “Happy” and “Walk this Way” and others, all replete with great choreography, wonderful costumes and amazing energy. And the Village People’s newest member is a chef!
But one track stood out from all the rest. It was a mash up of Van Halen’s “Jump” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” that dramatized a zombie attack happening during a Van Halen concert. That’s right. So with that VanJaxxon Regeneration took top prize and the title of SDM Idol 2014. And as the prizes were awarded and the audience dissolved back into their work place the wind picked up and the rain began. Timing is everything. We are already looking forward to SDM Idol 2015!
Client: D+H Ltd
Venue: Courtney Park Cineplex Theatre, Mississauga, ON
Program: Team Anthem
Through a partnership with our friends at Song Division, Rock the Stars has an exciting new program. It is called Team Anthem and the focus is on learning and development. It doesn’t require break out rooms and can be accomplished in less than 75 minutes, making it perfect for large groups with a short amount of time.
It guides participants through the process of collectively writing a song, incorporating the company’s strategic objectives into the lyrics. We provide an all star band and Facilitator to lead the group through the experience. Like all Rock the Stars programs no prior musical experience is necessary!
The venue for today was the Courtney Park Cineplex in Mississauga. Executing our programs in a modern movie theater involves re-imagining that type of space. While the auditorium style seating may seem formal, it actually makes it easier for us to see and interact with every person in the audience. The state of the art A/V means the lyrics written by the group can be projected three stories tall!
The program began with our band playing a well known rock song, surprising the 400 attendees who were anticipating 75 minutes of PowerPoint presentations. Instead, we used that time to guide them through the creation of a new song. When we were done everyone in the room was on their feet singing and dancing to the new anthem, emphasizing the objectives and messaging for the meeting in a memorable way.
Every company has a specific lexicon that conveys their corporate culture and we teach our clients to transform this into lyrics. But the most important thing we teach is that a group of individuals, given guidance and encouraged to collaborate, can succeed in performing the most amazing task. It seems unlikely that four hundred financial technology experts could collectively write a song in seventy five minutes. The Team Anthem program showed how anything is possible while reinforcing the company’s objectives for the meeting.
To add an anthem to your next meeting please contact Rock the Stars!
Venue: Delta Meadowvale Hotel, Mississauga, ON
Program: U Rock
The drum solo is one of rock and roll’s most enduring conventions. Often maligned, and drifting in and out of fashion like leather pants or studded wrist bands, the drum solo remains an expected part of many arena rock spectacles. To drummers it’s an opportunity to step into the spotlight and demonstrate their musicality. To audiences it’s an opportunity to fist pump without rhythm. To the rest of the band it’s an opportunity to use the washroom.
Our facilitators would rarely suggest that a drum solo be included in a Rock the Stars performance, except as the final crescendo at the conclusion of a song. We would never expect that a band of amateur musicians, with 50 minutes of musical experience, could segue out of the second chorus of Sweet Home Alabama, into a 3 minute drum solo that moved like a percussive mini-opera, and then back to the third verse of the song. And yet that’s what happened to the surprise, delight and non-rhythmic fist pumping of those lucky enough to have witnessed it. And that is why the drum solo endures.
To inquire about how the drum solo can enhance your corporate culture, please contact Rock the Stars.
Client: Wakefield Canada
Venue: Downtown Jam, Toronto, ON
Program: U Rock
Our favourite venue in Toronto, which we use so often that we consider it home, has moved. Yesterday’s event was in the new space which is located near Eglinton and Keele. With three furnished studios plus a massive atrium the new Downtown Jam is perfect for Rock the Stars events of 10 to 200 people. Catering and conference services can also be arranged.
Yesterday our clients walked in to find the venue transformed into a rock and roll party with classic videos playing and rock star posters on the walls. Using a Rock Star Name Generator every participant was given their own rock star moniker (get yours here) before being formed into bands. Bands were then assigned the task of rewriting classic rock songs, which they then learned to play and perform. By the time Sounds like Flint Fox, Vanilla Sliders and The No-Mods took the stage everyone, like the space, had completely transformed.
Contact Rock the Stars for more information about studio events at Downtown Jam!
Client: Novartis Animal Health
Program: Battle of the Airbands Live
Venue: Toronto Intercontinental Hotel Yorkville
This event was a great example of how assigning a group seemingly simple tasks can result in really meaningful team building. This was a Battle of the Airbands event. The group was formed into bands and given the tasks of creating band names and picking songs, and planning a “air band” style performance, backed by our live Rock the Stars band.
These new bands, with help from our team, immediately went into “Fame” mode. They picked costumes and then found spaces throughout the conference floor to work on creating incredible performances. When the competition began it was apparent that they had used their 30 minutes of rehearsal very well. Every band had a unique style and approach. The “celebrity” judges took their roles very seriously, but even the “Simon” couldn’t help but praise the performers. Big thanks to the staff at the Intercontinental Yorkville for all their assistance.
For more information visit www.rockthestars.com.
Client: Dupont Canada
Venue: Delta Meadowvale Hotel
Program: U Rock
We specialize in programs for average sized groups and we do many programs for really large groups. But its fun for us to work with really small groups sometimes. This was one of those events. Sixteen people who know each other through email and phone conversations only. There are things we have the opportunity to do with groups this size that we miss out on with larger groups. The team building is more intense because we can work with the whole group. Also, tonight we discovered a woman who had really missed her calling. Despite never having picked up drum sticks before she sat down behind the kit and drummed. Drummed well! She ended up playing drums with our Rock the Stars pros for most of the last part of the evening. Oh well… I am sure that music’s loss is Dupont’s gain.