March 28, 2014 4:38 pm
Updated: March 29, 2014 7:25 am

Juno hosts prep for big show in Winnipeg

MTS Centre in Winnipeg on Friday, March 28, 2014, being prepared for the Juno Awards.

Tamara Forlanski

WINNIPEG – This weekend’s Juno Awards show in Winnipeg has faced a few hurdles — slower ticket sales, ice and snow surrounding the venue, and a call in some quarters to remove Robin Thicke as a nominee and performer.

But organizers say the show will not only go on, but it will also be eye-catching.

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“We’ve built an architectural shape completely out of new technology — wrapped curved video tiles — which allows us to completely change the look for every single performance,” Alex Nadon, production designer for the show, said Friday.

Six layers of LED screens are stacked together on the main stage to look like a three-dimensional skyline rising out of the flat Prairies. Huge images or messages can tower over the performers.

The show’s hosts, Serena Ryder, Johnny Reid and Classified, are new to the duties, but said Friday they are prepared.

“I’ve never really hosted anything, but … we host thousands of people on a nightly basis at our shows,” Reid said.

“We’re not actors, we’re musicians … so what we bring to it is just kind of us, being on stage and really grateful,” Ryder added.

The co-hosts showed off their playful side Friday. Asked whether she had any hidden talents, Ryder demonstrated how she can fold her tongue into three sections.

“That’s amazing,” Reid remarked.

The last time the Junos were in Winnipeg, in 2005, the MTS Centre sold out quickly. This time around, there were still tickets available as of Friday.

Organizers said the continuing cold weather, and the return of a National Hockey League team in 2011, have made selling out a tougher task.

“This community has embraced the (Winnipeg) Jets like everybody had hoped, right across Canada, and that definitely sucks some money out of the system,” executive producer John Brunton said.

There is also controversy surrounding this year’s awards. An online petition was launched in an attempt to remove Robin Thicke from the show as a nominee and a performer. Thicke has been accused of trivializing sexual assault via the lyrics in his song “Blurred Lines.”

Ryder said Friday there are many different opinions as to what’s right and wrong.

“Everybody has their idea of what they think that lyrics should be in their songs,” she said.

“I have a lyric ‘do you mind if I get drunk and said I want to take you home to bed’ (in the song “Weak In The Knees”), and there’s, like, these little kids singing it and I’m, like … I shouldn’t have put that in there, but then it’s like, whoa, it’s the moment you’re in.”

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