From Oct. 19-22, Halifax Pop Explosion is taking over venues around the city. Here’s what we thought about the performances we attended Oct. 21. Click here to read our night one recap, and here for night two.
John: My roommate complained to me last night about the fact that I started yesterday’s review with a discussion of my clothing choices. So let’s get right to the music, shall we?
Hannah: So tired, so worth it.
John: In my quest to hit up every venue at HPX, I made a quick stop at the Pavillion before making my way to the Forum. Scheduling a deathcore band this early in the night seems strange to me… but people appeared to be having a good time anyway. I was able to appreciate Dexter Outhit’s unclean vocals despite the fact that this isn’t my favourite type of music. The only punk/hardcore band I’ve ever really enjoyed is Alexisonfire, and if we’re being honest, that’s mainly because of Dallas Green’s voice, not George Pettit’s. The Pavillion provided free earplugs, and man, did I need them. My ears were still ringing as I made my way to the Forum.
Heaven For Real
Hannah: I had never been to the Art Bar + Projects before so I figured I’d stop by and catch some of Heaven For Real’s set before heading to the Forum. I’ve been taking notes on my phone each night and the only one I have from this show says “so much sound in such a small space”, which I think sums up the performance well. Heaven For Real is a local Halifax band and it was cool to see how many people they knew at the show, whether they were family, friends or otherwise. There was also one guy who applauded after a song at one point using the piano at the back. I want to be his friend. I didn’t line myself up well to take pictures here, but that’s OK. I got to hear the piano guy, which makes up for it.
John: These rockers from St. John’s belonged on the main stage. I could have listened to them all night. The lighted mic stand up front made for great picture taking. I suggest you check them out; they immediately made me think of Metric. (Sidenote: their lead singer told the audience she was remaining sober last night, because they were driving back to Ontario the next day – to which the audience responded with a chorus of boos. Classy.)
Hannah: I headed to the Forum after the Art Bar + Projects and got there just as Royal Canoe was starting their set. I noticed they had what looked like those electricity globe things (I have no idea how to describe this) that used to be everywhere when I was a kid that when you put your finger on it the electricity thing (somebody stop me) would follow your finger? Does that make sense? Anyway, I figured they were just for decoration but then they started playing them. Like instruments. It was explained during their set that rather than having a laptop on stage, a friend designed (what I’m going to call) the glowy orbs for them. Each time they hit one of the orbs, a different sample sound is played. I get why they need six of them to do what they do.
John: I feel like I’m doing too many comparisons, so I’ll put an end to that with this band. The first thing I noticed about these guys is they all have stellar hair. I have no words to describe their sound, so I’ll just steal this from their Bandcamp page: “Think of them as the child that would result, however inexplicably, if the Beatles, Peter Gabriel, Vampire Weekend, Outkast and Fever Ray had a hymn sing followed by an orgy.” Yep. I’ve never heard such a mix of sound – there was some synth, two drummers (one on the pads, and one on the kit), and at some point, I’m almost certain someone pulled out a harmonica. I’m awarding these guys big points for originality.
The Barr Brothers
John: I focused on their instruments even before they took the stage: a transparent bass guitar, a stand-up bass, a drum kit that included a honest-to-goodness bicycle wheel, and a harp. Lead singer Brad Barr was able to change the sound his guitar produced using foot pedals and the occasional slide; and his back and forth with Sarah Pagé’s harp was without a doubt the highlight of the show. They played a song where all of them gathered around the centre microphone (minus the harp; hard to move that to the front). I’m a huge sucker for bands that do this ever since I saw Mumford & Sons do a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” this way many years ago (I’m a 21-year-old white male, does the fact I enjoy Mumford & Sons really surprise you?). They did quite a bit of improv, which is good for us media types – security kicks us out of the front area after the first three songs. And with the Barr Brothers, those three songs lasted for 30 minutes.
Hannah: Huh. I didn’t even realize I spent that long in the pit taking photos of the Barr Brothers. Anyway, I really liked this performance. I stood off to the side and watched them set up while fiddling with my camera and I think I did a double-take at least twice. First, I saw the harp come out and immediately knew I was in for something good. Then they brought out the stand-up bass and I had no idea what I was in for. I didn’t even notice the bicycle wheel until later while I was taking photos and John pointed it out. Later in their set I’m pretty sure there was also a harmonica. I hadn’t heard anything from these guys before, and now I’m so glad I have. The back and forth John mentioned above was also a highlight for me. I took more breaks than I should have from taking photos to just listen, and it was so good!
John: The Forum really started to reek of beer and sweat at this point. I picked the wrong day to wear a long-sleeve shirt (sorry, at least I’m referencing my clothing later in the review today…). I love this band so much. If you’ve never seen them, do yourselves a favour and go. I don’t care if their only show is in Yellowknife in January: you should still road trip it. The light bulbs placed around the stage added ambiance to the set, which culminated in one of my favourite songs, “Welcome.” The highlight of their set was “Red Heart,” which gets me right in the feels each time I hear it. There’s so much emotion in their music. They finished up their encore with a nice cover of Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed.” 10/10.
Hannah: I had been waiting all night to figure out what the light bulbs next to the stage were for and I finally got my answer when the tech crew started setting up the stage for Hey Rosetta!. I’m ready to admit that I haven’t heard much from Hey Rosetta! before (shameful, I know) but watching them play pretty much solidified that I need to work on that. Also, I didn’t realize how many people were in this band, but the music they each make fits together so well. I get why these guys are so popular and headliners, that’s where they fit.
Hannah: After the Forum I was getting really sleepy but still wanted more music so I made my way to Gus’ Pub. I had been here night one but that was for the 22 Minutes stand-up show, so I was curious to see how a band would do in the smaller space. I didn’t stay for long at this one, but I enjoyed what I heard. I’ll probably try to catch them again in the future if I can. I had to leave because I was starting to yawn not out of boredom, but because this was my third night out in a row during the school week and apparently I’m really tired.
John: After realizing it was much later than I expected (I wasn’t missing a second of HR!), I texted Hannah and was told to head to Reflections Cabaret. I walked in, snapped a pic, and immediately left. Not what I was feeling after the Forum. No idea who was playing, but the dance floor was only moderately full. I’m surprised I didn’t end up at pizza corner; instead, I drove straight home and crashed at 1:30am.
How much is live-tweeting this event costing me in data charges, considering the Forum has no wifi?
Hannah: Sorry John.
The entire Halifax Pop Explosion schedule can be found here.