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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 anniversar Toronto's Broken Social Scene at the Marquee Club during the Halifax Pop Explosiony 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.

Two Hours Traffic

Two Hours' Traffic

by Erin McGuire

It has been almost three years since guitarist Alec O'Hanley and vocalist Liam Corcoran brought their music out of the basement and onto the stage. The two began performing as an acoustic duo and adopted the name Two Hours' Traffic, which they took from the prologue to Romeo and Juliet. They first performed at Colonel Gray High School in the fall of 2000. Since then they've played a handful of all-ages shows including a battle of the bands and have been consistently broadening their catalogue of original material. In the fall of 2002, the two rounded out the group by adding drummer Derek Ellis and bassist Andrew MacDonald.

Corcoran and O'Hanley write all of the material, but their sound has changed quite frequently. Starting off acoustically, the band developed a fuller sound by adding more instrumentation. After a brief stint of composing piano oriented songs like "Shade," their new material like "Pretty Time" and "Ottawa River" brings them back to the guitar driven sound that got them started. Regularly covering songs by Radiohead and Ben Kweller, the band describes their sound as being college-rock heavily influenced by Radiohead, Beck, and Hayden.

All four members of the band are currently attending the University of Prince Edward Island but dedicate much of their time to the group. Over the past six months, Two Hours' Traffic has become increasingly well-known. They've been playing more shows with other local bands like Dreams Among Stars and Laterdaze, and in May they graduated from all-ages shows to the bar scene by playing alongside The Handles at Brennan's. This summer they hope to play as many shows as possible both on and off the Island. "I don't think we have any huge unattainable aspirations like some small bands," said Ellis. "It's all about having fun."

To date, the group has put together four albums of original material but hasn't released any of them. "I am constantly thinking about our songs in terms of an album," said Corcoran. "At this point we are trying to get our name out there but when the opportunity presents itself, or we decide we are going to make it happen ourselves, I definitely want to make a professional album." While they have no concrete plans for a full length release anytime soon, they do hope to put out a five song EP near the end of August. In the meantime, Two Hours' Traffic has multiple shows in the works for July and August and is confirmed to be playing with Singularity and Ontario's Alexisonfire at the East Royalty Community Centre on July 22.

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