Tag Archives: halifax pop explosion

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.


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!


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.