Vv Magazine’s Jessica Vomiero hit up the first North American YouTube FanFest on May 2 to fill us in on all the hoopla.
Thousands of people flooded Yonge-Dundas Square, from the Eaton Centre to the stage. You’d think they were gathering to see a Swift, or perhaps a McCartney. But the main attraction didn’t have a shelf of Oscars, let alone a Juno. The crowd was gathered for the North American debut of YouTube FanFest, featuring digital stars who collectively boast more than 6.8 billion views.
The web’s most popular YouTubers, including names such as Jenna Marbles, Epic Meal Time, iiSuperwomanii and Bethany Mota, gathered in the refreshingly sunny downtown Toronto to get up-close and personal with their legions of subscribers.
“I’ve never had an opportunity to meet my Canadian Internet friends so I’m really pumped to go and finally make that happen,” said Jenna Marbles, who has a whopping 14.9 million subscribers.
Canadian hosts Jessi Cruikshank and Epic Meal Time’s Harley Morenstein brought several locals to the main stage, including Markham’s iiSuperwomanii (a.k.a. Lilly Singh), Toronto’s LaurDIY (a.k.a. Lauren Riihimaki) and JusReign (a.k.a. Jagmeet Singh).
The show opened with a routine by Jenna Marbles, who has bragging rights to YouTube’s most subscribed channel. She later joined Michael Stevens and Derek Muller, known as Vsauce and Veritasium online, for a fun and quirky lesson in air pressure.
LaurDIY, who’s got 1.5 million subscribers to her name, later rocked the stage with a do-it-yourself shirt designing competition, one of which was modelled by Jessie Cruikshank herself.
While many of her fellow performers were excited to be visiting Canada’s largest city, LaurDIY considered the event a bit of a homecoming.
“I’m so excited FanFest Canada is bringing the YouTube community together in Canada. Meeting viewers is my favourite thing to do and I can’t wait to hug my ‘Pretty Little Laurs’ in person,” Lauren dished before the show.
Fun fact: Canadians are Internet addicts. We watch over 24 hours of YouTube a month – five hours more than Americans. Before the show, Sam Sebastian, General Manager of Google Canada reiterated why Toronto was chosen.
“We are thrilled that the first YouTube FanFest to land in North America is going to be in Toronto, which is a hotbed of creativity on YouTube,” said Sebastian. “For nearly a decade, Canadians have embraced the creative power of YouTube to share their music, their comedy, their stories and their ideas. As a result, they have found new audiences for their work, both at home and around the world.”
By the end of the night, the fans grew anxious. “Lilly, Lilly, Lilly!” There was no one left to perform, and this is what they’d all been waiting for.
Bursting onto the stage, iiSuperwomanii was by far the most anticipated act in the show. She performed with fellow YouTuber Humble the Poet and sports a total 5.5 million subscribers.
YouTube FanFest made its world premiere in Singapore in 2013, and since has travelled the globe before landing in Toronto. Having been held in countries like India, Singapore, China, Australia, Korea, Thailand and Japan, YouTube FanFest has become an international organization with offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, and New York.
However, as iiSuperwomanii hypes the crowd, dancing alongside Humble the Poet, it’s clear that she offers something that a Swift or a McCartney never could. Like her fellow YouTubers, she has a relationship with fans that’s based on shared quirks, embarrassing moments and mutual experiences –something the silver screen can’t provide.
As the crowd sings along and confetti flutters overhead, iiSuperwomanii ends the night with her internationally-recognized sign off.
“One Love, Superwoman. That is a wrap and ZOOP!”
Who are your favourite YouTubers? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.