Gianna Lauren, Superfriendz, Al Tuck, The Dudes (x2), Atlas Sound, The Elwins, Ambersand, Born Ruffians, Elliott BROOD, Wintersleep, The Spring Standards, Billie Dre & the Poor Boys, The Belle Comedians, The Novaks, Deer Tick, Juilie Doiron, Cold Specks, Canailles, Willie Stratton, Irreverend James & The Critical Mass Choir, and Mo Kenney. I also saw Eugene Mirman do a comedy set.
|Al Tuck at The Carleton|
|The Dudes at Reflections Cabaret|
Night two of HPX started off with some friends and I flashing our press passes and being among the very last people admitted to Saint Matthews United Church. We arrived just in time for Atlas Sound to haunt the soundwaves of the building with his extensive guitar loops. The way that guy can use a looper pedal is way beyond impressive. If you were to close your eyes you'd think there were several musicians serenading your ears at any given time. Atlas Sound chose to keep his interactions with the crowd very minimal which added to the surreal effect of his music. I don't think he could have played a more appropriate venue for his kind of music. Once that set was over we made our way over to Reflections with great excitement about seeing the Born Ruffians. When we arrived the boys from Ambersand, a rock band from the UK were doing their thing. After Ambersand we had the pleasure of seeing The Elwins. First of all, just the sight of The Elwins screams good time, especially the guy with the large mustache and small round glasses. Anyways, The Elwins gave Reflections their all, and left us using our hands as fox ears and tails, if this sounds cryptic, then you'll just have to go to one of their shows to be in the know. Also, its worth checking out their show, especially while they are currently touring with Born Ruffians just for their cover of Beyonce's Countdown. After the Elwins, the night's secret guest came on stage, which happened to be The Dudes. So, I got to see the dudes perform again, and they did not disappoint. If anything I was more pumped about their set this time round, and being in the front row definitely helped. The Dudes rocked out and the crowd seemed to dig every minute of it. And last but not least, la piece de resistance of the night, the Born Ruffians, showed the crowd at Reflections what they were made of. They played a great combination of old and new songs and were well worth the late night. I had tweeted the band earlier in the evening asking them to play Little Garçon, which they did not, but I got a tweet later in the night apologizing for not doing so, and that was just as good, well, sort of.
|Luke Lalonde of the Born Ruffians at Reflections Cabaret|
|Deer Tick at The Marquee|
|Cold Specks at Saint Mattews United Church|
The last night of the Halifax Pop Explosion started with one of my most anticipated shows of the week, Julie Doiron and Cold Specks at St Matthews Church. This show was made to be even more epic when I found out that a friend had saved me a seat in the front row. I got there just in time to see Julie Doiron casually walk on stage, set her tote bag aside, and plug in her guitar. She then began to talk and told the crowd about a frustrating moment that had happened to her earlier in the day. She had done the unspeakable thing, she had read comments on the internet about her upcoming album. She was a little flustered about one commentator in specific who was fairly harsh on Julie's work. She continued to rant about this event throughout the show, but in the most endearing way possible. She claimed to be "killing the vibe" with her rambling, but no one in the crowd seemed to mind. Among the songs she played were Me & My Friends, Consolation Prize, No More, and Snowfalls in November. She skillfully used the mic when necessary and pulled away from it for proper effect, and seemed very at ease playing for the crowd. It was clear that Doiron is no spring chicken when it comes to these sorts of gigs, and it was delightful to see this very humble artist do her thing. After Doiron, the 2012 Polaris Music Prize shortlister took the stage, and the crowd in the church instantly went silent. Cold Specks was much more engaged with the crowd then I expected her to be, and was very casual yet professional throughout her whole set. She informed the crowd that she recently made a vow to never play solo again, and told us that we would be the last group of people to ever see her play solo. It was quite the privilege to be in her presence and to take in all that she had to offer. She ventured away from the mic many times and the acoustics in the church did not let her down. She even ventured beyond her own repertoire when she did a short rendition of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song. She stuck that one in there after claiming that her album is "fucking depressing". The songs she played included The Mark, We Are Many, Elephant Head (which she claims is her favourite on the album), Steady, Lay Me Down (which she categorized "as depressing as they come", and many others. It was truly a beautiful experience and was easily one of my favourite HPX shows, ever. After Cold Specks I was feeling in a mellow mood, so instead of heading to the Black Keys show I decided to hit up my go to HPX venues, the Bus Stop Theatre, and the Company House. At the Bus Stop I got the chance to see the square dance inspiring group Canailles which was a real treat. The foot-stomping bluegrass vibe that this band has going on is unreal, and the crowd was really into it. Their cute broken English banter was embraced by the crowd and it was nice to see a band from my home town. After Canailles I hopped across the street to see Halifax native Willie Stratton, which is always a treat. Once Willie had finished his set I went back across the street to catch the eccentric Irreverend James and the Critical Mass Choir, which was quite the spectacle. From what I gather, the band's purpose is to poke fun not at religion, but those who take advantage of religion to preach how they think the world should be. It really is impossible for me to describe this gospel band and do them justice, so all I can say to you is I strongly urge you to go check them out. They really do put on a theatrical show and it is definitely worth seeing, besides, who doesn't like quality gospel music? I finished my HPX week by seeing Mo Kenney do her thing at the Company House, and it was lovely.
All in all I had a truly wonderful musical experience at the Halifax Pop Explosion and would like to thank everyone who made it happen. Special thanks goes out to the volunteers who held it all together. I'd like to send out an extra special thank you to Matt Charlton at Pigeon Row for hooking me up with the press pass and to Trevor Murphy for vouching for me.
Now its time for me to catch some much needed shuteye.