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Oh, Hello There!

25 Nov

On September 27th, 2010 a group of people who came together through Twitter, shared with the internet, a video blog dedicated to Gossip Girl.

The concept was slightly short sighted but from it spawned friendships, laughter and many wonderful memories. The blog evolved from weekly gatherings to chat Gossip Girl to a place to share musings of all things Pop Culture.

The last five years has seen us all grow and evolve, all of us with major life changes under our belts.

I often think about this poor neglected blog and how it’s been a great outlet, a launchpad to start new friendships, and a place to get thoughts out when the 140 characters of Twitter hasn’t been enough.

So today I jump back on the blog. A lone contributor now, but each time I log in, I get to smile with memories of this group of people who I’ve been through a hell of a lot with.

Each Tuesday I’ll put pen to paper and get back in the saddle bringing you the ever important thoughts of my Pop Culture saturated brain.

With that, let’s get to it. My conflicting feelings about Beebs.

I’ve been proud of fighting the good fight for years now. I love boy bands, success stories, small towners turning big time. SUCCESS MAKES ME CRY WITH JOY but I couldn’t be come a Belieber. The antics, the are they or aren’t they with Selena, the immature dealings of a boy who hit fame faster than he could handle and just couldn’t stop.

Then, the change started to happen. It started with The Roast. The Roast was epic. Martha, Shaq, Kevin Hart. Justin took hit after hit from pop culture heavyweights and took it with dignity. Was his monologue at the end a bit too much? Yes. Did it start to make me wonder if he had changed? Yes again.

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Don’t mind us, we’re just in matching shoes.

And then the new singles came. And just like that I was caught singing along to songs that I actually liked by a guy I fundamentally couldn’t stand.

Now he’s made his way through the talk show circuit, the likes of Ellen and he’s blown up the charts along the way. Has Bieber’s music matured, I’ll give this a resounding yes. Has he? Jury is still out.

In the meantime I will continue to belt out the words to “Love Yourself” any time I am convinced no one is listening.

Will I become a Belieber? We’ll see.

 

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Halifax Pop – lessons learned

25 Oct

Today’s post is courtesy of our friends at Halifax Hype (@halifaxhype) – special thanks to @MarthaGallagher

the main lesson I learned from the Halifax Pop Explosion is that if you’re doing it right, you’re going to end up very, very tired.

So I think we clearly did it right. Because Monday is really giving me a run for my money.

Let’s rewind back to Friday night, where I last left you.

Friday night lesson? Library Voices are no longer for quiet times.
Out of all of the great things HPX was offering, I was most excited for the Library Voices. I’ve been a fan of this Regina-based band for a while now, so the chance to see them at the Seahorse, one of my favourite venues in Halifax, was really something else. After some great support from glory glory, honheehonhee and Graham Wright and the Good Times Band, Library Voices took the stage.

And the definitely took it. An electric performance that including hanging from the rafters, group claps, and table dancing, these guys proved they really are one of the best things to come from the Canadian Prairies. This was hands down in my top three favourite shows from the entire festival.

Saturday Lesson – It’s worth it to go early.
On Saturday I got to double dip in Halifax Pop Explosion goodness, taking in the Stars show in the afternoon and Rural Alberta Advantage in the evening. The biggest take away from this day is figure out your schedule, and get to the venue early.

Thanks to the Occupy NS movement, the Stars show was indoors – greatly cutting down on the numbers of those able to see the band in action. Luckily, after the Dan Mangan debacle that was Thursday night, my concert-going partner and I had the foresight to get to the venue nice and early, allowing us to get good seats and check out Carmen Townsend and Plants and Animals before Stars came on.

Stars was huge for me – I’ve seen them before, but they’re one of my all time favourite bands so I was pleased as punch to see them again. They didn’t disappoint, and in fact, played a three song acoustic set in the parking lot for those who couldn’t get in. Class act.

Saturday night was my shot at redemption for St Matthew’s. I went early, waiting in line with other keeners, to ensure I got to see Rural Alberta Advantage. Totally worth it to wait in line for an extra hour in order to experience all of the group hand claps, and an amazing acoustic closer that had the band singing to a completely silent audience. It was magic.

Although I may be deliriously overtired, I know it’s not the lack of sleep talking when I extend my sincerest congratulations to the festival organizers for a job well done. I’ve never been to a festival that has ran more smoothly, or with a more effective volunteer team than HPX. During the run of the festival I saw 15 bands, the majority of which I’d never seen live before, and honestly didn’t think would ever come to Halifax. My only question is – how are they going to outdo themselves next year for the 20th anniversary of the fest? I cannot wait to find out.

Things are still popping – Dan Mangan, Racoon Bandit, Dennis Ellsworth & The Haunted Hearts

21 Oct

Today’s post is a two-parter because, due to complications, this kid didn’t get in to see Dan Mangan. So enjoy part one from Joel, who is clever and did get to see Dan.

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Brief note to groupies:
If you’re going to sing obnoxiously loud, please know the words to the song (not just the last two words in each line, sung moments after the musician), and be able to fucking sing.

Thursday night at St. Matthew’s Church was phenomenal. The girlfriend and I arrived fairly early, but the place was already quite packed. We took a seat in the last row, and settled in to hear The Daredevil Christopher Wright‘s set. So far, these dudes are the hidden gem of Pop Explosion for me. They might be super famous, I don’t know, but they were new to me. They had fantastic lyrics, great (sincere-feeling) banter with the crowd, and incredible voices. I’ll definitely be checking out the rest of their stuff.

The Daredevil Christopher Wright

Following them were The Crackling, whose members are all from Dan Mangan’s band. They were quite good, but honestly not my favourite
thing ever. They’re obviously all fabulously talented, but I found myself just hoping their set would wrap up.

Then, of course, was Dan. There’s little else that needs to be said apart from the note that starts my post, and this: I saw Dan Mangan
sing “Robots” in the middle of a church full of people singing along with him.

He sang without a mic, standing on pews in the centre of the church.The whole band came out into the crowd, even the stand-up bass. It was just Dan, his band, the crowd, and the fucking groupies behind us (howling like abandoned weirdo hipster puppies), singing our hearts out to an amazing tune.

St. Matthew’s was the perfect venue for all these guys. We had an amazing time.

Pop Explosion rocks!

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Time for part two:

After facing rejection at the Dan Mangan show, I headed down to the Carleton to check out  Racoon Bandit and Dennis Ellsworth & the Haunted Hearts. Both bands hail from PEI and both are fantastic. Racoon Bandit played a great set, and had the crowd’s attention. They have a great folk rock vibe and played a few of my favorites so I was very pleased. Fraser McCallum played the first few numbers with an acuoustic guitar and it really added a great sound to their set.

Then it was time for Dennis Ellsworth & the Haunted Hearts to take the stage. I have been a big fan of Dennis’ since his days in the Rude Mechanicals. He has a great voice, and fantastic stage presence. I had not seen him live with the Haunted Hearts until last night and I was not disappointed. It was a great night of music at the Carleton, great atmosphere and just wanted I needed to end a hectic Thursday.

Halifax Pop Explosion – The Rich Aucoin CD Release Party at St. Matthew’s Church

20 Oct

So here’s what you do… you take basically every musical act Nova Scotia has ever known, you bring them together on stage in a cool old church, and you get magnetic and mesmerizing Haligonian Rich Aucoin to lead them in an orchestral interactive sing-along of epic proportions.

Yeah. That’s what you do if you want to put on one of the best shows Halifax Pop Explosion has ever seen. And that’s what Rich Aucoin did on Wednesday night at St. Matthew’s Church.

The crowd got warmed up by several songs from friends of Rich Aucoin – from songs that have (and I quote)  “only been performed once for my roommate and her cat” to an amazing rendition of Eye of the Tiger from  Jenn Grant (accompanied on the piano by her new husband Daniel Ledwell) the opening songs got the fans ready to go, knowing that each of these performers would also be partaking in Rich’s rockin’ set.

Bright lights and church pews

Rich started by teaching the crowd the choruses to the songs in a repeat-after-me fashion, charming the pants off every person in the room – male or female – when he remarked “You guys are amazing. Were you all in choir in school? I just want to listen to you guys all night.” Truth be told, I bet a lot of us probably were in choir at some point – but everyone was anxious and excited to hear Rich’s latest release played start to finish.

When he launched in to his music, supported by a group of no less than 80 musicians, fans were instantly on their feet – dancing, clapping, booty-shaking, and singing along to the words many of us had just learned. With songs like A.L.i.V.E. and Push, Rich’s long-awaited album was definitely one to move to.

Scanning the crowd on stage was like looking at an all-star selection of Nova Scotia’s finest musicians. Along with the previously mentioned and reliably wonderful Jenn Grant, I was also able to identify members of the Mellotones, In-Flight-Safety, and Soho Ghetto. There was a strings section, multiple drum sets, horns, keyboards, a full blown choir, and a sitar player (because no show is complete without a sitar player), all playing together in perfect hipster harmony to Rich’s infectious beats. After an hour of non-stop energy, the set came to a close and every single audience member walked away sweaty and smiling from one of the best musical experiences Halifax has served up in ages. Ships start here, and apparently so does kick-ass musical talent.

Rich Aucoin giving the crowd a religious experience at St. Matthew's

First night of Pop Explosion! Pepper Rabbit and Ohbijou

20 Oct

Halifax Pop Explosion is finally here. We headed down to Reflections Cabaret Tuesday night to take in Pepper Rabbit and Ohbijou.

I’d like to pause for a moment, though, to discuss Reflections during Happy Hour: Like me, you may have only been to Reflections late, late at night, having missed the happy hour that ends at 1:00 am. You should be aware, then, that between 10:00 pm and 1:00 am the prices are straight up fantastic (we’re talking $3.25 for domestic bottles, and $2.75 for well shots).


We arrived in time for the beginning of Pepper Rabbit. After a hilariously long soundcheck, they started in, playing what seemed like a wonderful fusion of Wolf Parade and My Morning Jacket. It was my first time hearing them, so maybe my assessment is way off, but I quite liked what I heard. I’m really happy with this find so far, and I’ll definitely be checking out more of their stuff.

My only real negative about their set was that they were wearing jackets the whole time. It was roughly a million degrees in there, so it was surprisingly distracting to be imagining just how grotesquely hot they must have been.

After they wrapped up, we waited through another lengthy soundcheck (there seemed to be a series of miscommunications between the band and the guy on the board), and Ohbijou took the stage.

I was already a  little familiar with them, and they didn’t disappoint. They couple vocals with really, really great music (I love bands with violins or other stringed instruments).

Pop Explosion is off to a great start, so we’re pumped to check out more shows during the week. Stay tuned here, as we’re going to have posts up every day (we hope!).

Things that go Pop – it’s Halifax Pop Explosion time

17 Oct

HPX is the Halifax Pop Explosion, an international music festival and conference that presents 150 bands in 18 venues over 5-days to over 17,000 fans and industry delegates from around the world. And we at This Needs to Stop are thrilled to be taking in as many shows as possible during this year’s festival. We will be posting all week on the shows we are attending and keeping everyone looped in on all the great talent that will be here in Halifax.

Here are a few HPX tips to help fans make the most of this week –

HPX iPhone App – Download it , because  it’s free and it lets you share your HPX festival pics directly, tweet to HPX and send the link to your friends so they can join the fun with you. You can find it here

Follow them on Twitter – @halifaxpopx

Picking up your pass/wristband – You’ve got your pass purchased now where to pick it up?  Come to the festival HQ at the Citadel Halifax Hotel to pick up your pass/wristband from Oct 18-22 11am – 8pm.  The Citadel Halifax Hotel is located at 1960 Brunswick Street and is our official host hotel.

Capacity and getting into the venues –   Some advice from a pro: Come out early and you’ll get more from the experience, show up late for the party and risk being left out.