Halifax Pop Explosion
by Erin McGuire
In October, the Halifax Pop Explosion was in full swing showcasing simultaneous shows at six different venues around downtown Halifax. The festival which ran from October 30 to November 1 celebrated its tenth anniversary this year and was combined for the first time ever with the DJ Olympics. Since its creation in 1993, the festival has gone through many changes and has previously hosted successful artists such as Elliot Smith, Stereolab, and Hayden. Along with music events held at eight different locations, the festival held an Indie Trade Show and Zine Fair.
Two of the most highly anticipated acts from the mainstream and indie scene opened the festival this year—Toronto's Ron Sexsmith and New York's Les Savy Fav. Ron Sexsmith played the Marquee Club with openers A Northern Chorus, Wintersleep, and Jon Epworth. Living up to all the hype, Sexsmith played a mix of new and old songs including a few requests. Death By Nostalgia, The Unicorns, and Ok Lucky opened for Les Savy Fav at the Attic. Tim Harrington of the Les Savy Fav took the stage in a sailorís suit and spent as much of the set in the crowd on the floor as he did on stage. The crowd appreciated the wild stage antics and lengthy set which made Les Savy Fav's trip from the states well worth while.
The event continued on Friday night with Broken Social Scene playing a headlining show at the Marquee Club. Openers Amy Millan and Jason Collett played to a full house and later joined the band onstage. The ambient rock band from Toronto is still touring in support of their successful 2002 release You Forgot it in People. The band whose roster is known to occasionally exceed ten took the stage shortly after 1 am with six members on stage. The band members switched instruments frequently and had as many as seven members on stage at one time.
While most of the festival was directed towards the 19+ crowd, those who weren't of age were not forgotten. All ages shows were scheduled at the Ceilidh Café and The Vogue on Friday and Saturday nights. The shows featured Vancouver's Gob, Toronto's drum and bass duo Death from Above, and Halifax's Dean Malenkos.
The Indie Trade Show and Zine Fair took place Saturday afternoon at the Vogue on Gottingen Street. The fair consisted of industry panels, public readings, film screenings, and photography. Charlottetown band Dreams Among Stars played the fair along with The Reason, the Ditchpigs, and BLEEP. Broken Pencil: The Magazine of Zine Culture and Independent Artists was showcased this year and held a workshop on zine construction for those looking to improve their zines and those just starting out.
Saturday night scheduled openers at the Attic, Rockranger, failed to play their set for unknown reasons and the crowd was forced to wait until Fredericton's Dionisus took the 12:20 am slot instead. Hamilton's Warsawpack headlined the show after an introduction asking the crowd to “be good to these guys 'cause we already want them back.” The political seven-piece whose style blurs the lines between jazz, rap, rock, and groove was warmly welcomed and played a set that was well worth the wait.
The three day event ended Saturday night and was declared a success.