From Oct. 19-22, Halifax Pop Explosion took over venues around the city. Here’s what we thought about the performances we attended Oct. 22; the final night of the festival.
Click here to read our night one recap, here for night two and here for night three.
John: The Marquee was packed for night four. It was shoulder-to-shoulder all the way back to the bar. Should have known it would be this way when the only (legal) parking spot I could find was two blocks away. It proved challenging to make my way around with a camera slung around my neck. Nevertheless, I managed to make my way to the front for the second act of the night.
I’d be oversimplifying things if I classified Georgas’ music as “pop,” because her set seemed to cover so many genres. Her band was incredibly tight, but everything they do is secondary to (and meant to enhance) her voice. The versatility of her voice is why she’s able to pump out a few dance hits and then immediately take it down with a track like “Robotic,” which only featured a simple guitar accompaniment. She played quite a few tracks off her new album, “For Evelyn,” which was released earlier this year. My favourites? “Evelyn” and “Waste.” Give her a listen (which I’m doing as I write this review).
Hannah: I knew most of the Saturday night shows would probably be full, so I wasn’t exactly surprised when I got to the Marquee and it was already packed. The first thing I wrote in my notes for the night was that it was so warm. So, so warm. It didn’t matter, though, because it was completely worth it to see Hannah Georgas’ performance. When someone has a voice that clear during a live show I’m always kind of mesmerized. I didn’t make it on time to take photos of the first three songs for this one, but I’m glad it worked out that way. I was able to focus on her set rather than make sure I was getting the photos I needed. I’m also a fan of the songs John mentioned above (and pretty much all of her songs now) and I’m sure they’ll make their way onto one of my many playlists for the train ride home later this year (even though Frank Turner basically owns those).
John: I don’t know if I’ve ever seen someone smile more while performing. She actually looked like she was having fun on stage (something far too many artists forget to do, I feel…). Her band fed off this energy, and the result was something truly spectacular. Bulat – looking almost angelic as she took the stage – kicked off her set by playing an instrument I’ve never seen before (if anyone can tell what it is from the photo; please let me know). For more on Bulat, check out Stephen Wentzell’s profile on her.
Hannah: I was excited to see this performance because of the research I did while planning which shows to go to. Bulat had the biggest smile on her face when she came out on stage and it stayed there all throughout her show. I have no idea what exactly that first instrument she played was (some ukelele hybrid? Someone mentioned it was a baroque ukelele, but I honestly have no idea), but it was really cool that she opened the show with a solo song before her band came out. I love the amount of energy that she put into her performance, and anyone who wears a gold sequin cape and can aggressively throw a tambourine to the floor while transitioning from one side of the stage to the next is great in my books.
The Highest Order
John: On the advice of a classmate, I headed downstairs to the Seahorse to catch some of their set. Finally, some good old-fashioned rock and roll. Well, rock and roll with a country/folk twist (should I say twang…?), at least. Nothing fancy here, just a few guitars and a drum kit – and it worked. They were a refreshing change of pace after all the obscure instruments and resulting tangled wires I’ve seen over the course of the festival so far. The highlight of their set was what I’d call a pretty epic guitar face-off. I truly wanted to stay and listen to their entire show, but the nature of covering a multi-venue festival made it so this was impossible. I’m tucking them away in my back pocket to check out later. So much good music, so little time.
Hannah: I haven’t been to a show like this in a very, very long time, which probably isn’t surprising since I’m from northern New Brunswick. When I got to Gus’ Pub I noticed that it was pretty full. Even though this wasn’t necessarily my type of music, I can appreciate that it was a really good show. There was so much energy in the room and it’s by far the largest amount of people I’ve seen at Gus’ so far.
The Belle Game
John: To close out my festival experience, I headed to the Carleton to check out this group from Vancouver. After my experience at Reflections last night, I was hoping this band would prove a more fitting way to end my day – and did they ever. Their trance-y vibes were exactly what I needed at that time of night. And it appeared I wasn’t alone in thinking that. The Carleton was packed; there were even a few people sitting right up front near the stage. I love this venue; the exposed brick walls and intimate space really does it for me.
So ends my week of pretending (successfully, I think) that I know what I’m doing with a camera. A huge shout out goes to all the organizers, volunteers, and crew who made this festival possible. And also to Hannah, for suggesting we apply for media passes. Although I’m going to miss covering all these wonderful shows, I’m certainly going to appreciate being reacquainted with an old friend: sleep.
Hannah: It seems to be a trend with these recaps that we go to Reflections at the end of the night and have no idea who’s playing. I got there at a time I thought would be in between sets, but instead one of the bands of the night was just starting out. I’m not sure if they were starting late or started early, but either way, I stayed for a few songs and enjoyed myself. I didn’t get to get any good photos, but it was still a good way to end my coverage of the festival.
It feels like I’ve been doing this for more than four days. I’ve learned so many things about photographing live shows and about functioning on a huge lack of sleep (which isn’t that irregular for me, I guess). This was my first experience working with a media pass and I’m so glad I was able to do this. I’m a bit sad that it’s over, but it is kind of nice no to be planning my entire day on when I have to leave my apartment and get to whichever show is happening first. Now, it’s time for me to focus on school again. I haven’t done any work since Wednesday, so I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. At least I’ve got all kinds of new music to listen to while I work.