Arts & Culture City In Focus News

HPX 2017: Night One

Hello again. We’re back with the recaps, this time done by Jessica MacIsaac and Hannah Daley. We’re going to a variety of shows each night of Halifax Pop Explosion and tell you what we think about them.
Jessica: Hey, all. This is Jessica MacIsaac, and for those of you who don’t know me I am a fourth year music major with a minor in journalism. I am helping out Hannah this year with recapping some of the Halifax Pop Explosion performances. I will try to live up to John’s recaps from last year. Perhaps I should do an outfit of the day? (John likely isn’t reading so I feel I can poke fun).
I’ll try and just stick to the music.
Hannah: Personally, I’m in the middle of my honours project for fourth year journalism so I don’t think I’m capable of full thoughts (shoutout to Swick if you’re reading this for some reason. I’ll handle your edits after this). This could be four days of me rambling in text. Fun! See, Jessica knows more about music than I do. I’m mostly just here for photos and some commentary. If you actually want to get something out of this paragraph, you can read more about pop explosion here and check out the list of performers here.

Maylee Todd (+ La-Nai Gabriel)
Hannah: Maylee Todd’s show at the North Memorial Library was interesting. Once inside, I saw people laying on mats on the ground and looking at the ceiling, which had a slideshow of different writings playing on it. These people all looked comfortable and like they knew what to expect, which I did not. As we were waiting for the show to start it was announced that the library would be closing in five minutes, which made the audience of about a dozen laugh. For the first couple of songs I snapped some pictures, but after that I started watching the slideshow on the ceiling. It was cool! I had to rush out of this show to stay on schedule with what was to come at the Marquee Ballroom, but I glad I got to see part of it. This show runs again tonight, so check it out if you want to be mesmerized by a multimedia show and some great music.
Jessica: First, I’ve never been to the Halifax North Memorial Library. I really wasn’t really sure what to expect in terms of venue. Then I was led around back to their garage-like area, and told before I entered that I could take a seat or lay down inside. Now I really didn’t know what to expect.
Second, I have never heard Maylee Todd’s work, something I regret and am in the process of changing as I write this. She transformed the space into, in her words, “a large vulva installation”. You first walk through vulva-like curtains into the space. The floors are covered in blankets, the concrete walls in colourful geometric designs. But the most eye-catching feature is the ceiling that displays projections of both pre-made film she created and real-time video of the performance through multiple filters. The effect is an intimate, welcoming, and yes, womb-like space for you to enjoy the show.
While the transformation of space was amazing, it was the music that really hit me. If I were to place it in a genre, I’d say a mix of electronic, soul, funk, and pop. Even that can’t really capture the ethereal quality of her work. Her voice! So sweet, pure, and vulnerable while still having this extreme power behind it. And her performance partner, La-Nai Gabriel, was incredible on backup vocals and keys/beats. While the music uses plenty of loops and electronics, both Todd and Gabriel also play live amplified instruments (Todd on harp, Gabriel on flute), that blend the music perfectly with the psychedelic projections going on all around them.
I need to stop, I’m gushing a lot. It was one of the best performances I’ve ever attended. My only comment would be that I wish there was a larger audience. There were only about 20 people in the space, with a super relaxed atmosphere to boot. The more upbeat and dancy tunes definitely needed more energetic bodies, but it did lend to the comforting nature of the space and performance.
To conclude, go see her tonight if you missed out on it yesterday! Same time and place!

Beauts with guest Kim Davis at the Marquee Ballroom. (Photo: Hannah Daley)
Beauts with guest (right) at the Marquee Ballroom. (Photo: Hannah Daley)

Hannah: I got to the Marquee Ballroom at the end of Beauts’ set. Their music reminds me of all of the playlists that I have for train rides and car rides. I have a bad habit of not catching a full show with this band because the same thing happened last year. I went to their show at Gus’ Pub after hitting the Forum and was too exhausted to stay. After I write these recaps I always end up staying up too late listening to music, and that’s probably what’s going to happen with Beauts. You can check them out here.

From the Not You show at the Marquee Ballroom. (Photo: Hannah Daley)
From the Not You show at the Marquee Ballroom. (Photo: Hannah Daley)

Not You
Hannah: Their band bio for their pop explosion page says that one of their influences is ABBA, so I was already pretty pumped heading into this show. Halifax bands all have such different personalities and that’s one of my favourite things about going to shows here. Maybe it’s just because I’m proving myself to be a rambler, but I really like when bands banter with the audience during their show, which Not You did. If you can, check them out in the future! They’re a Halifax band, so keep an eye out.
Jessica: I, unfortunately, arrived towards the tail end of their performance, but I enjoyed what I saw! Very intense and loud sound for their last song that was great for the Marquee stage. They got the dedicated headbangers to bop around a bit, but again the night’s atmosphere was pretty relaxed. I’m definitely going to try and catch a bit more of them either on Saturday or after Pop Explosion.

Aron D'Alesio performing at the Seahorse Tavern. (Photo: Hannah Daley)
Aron D’Alesio performing at the Seahorse Tavern. (Photo: Hannah Daley)

Aron D’Alesio
Hannah: I would first like to acknowledge the sinister red lighting of the photo. It’s not meant to be sinister, but that’s just how it came out. I watched the set up for this and saw them putting up two mics, so I thought that he might have a backup or something. Nope. This dude uses two different mics. Again, I had to jump out of this show pretty quickly, but I wish I could have stayed! I also downloaded a bunch of his music to listen to while working today, so that’s a huge plus. D’Alesio is going to make it onto those train playlists that I always talk about in these.
Jessica: I’m going to make up for my previous long and rambling recap with a short one. I was there for most of this set, but I was mostly still processing my love for Maylee Todd. A change of venue to the Seahorse Tavern proved to me that Wednesday night was a very relaxed vibe, no matter which event you attended. Aaron D’Alesio’s set was really good for that atmosphere. A solo set with an indie pop-rock feel, I was honestly a bit surprised to find out he wasn’t from Halifax. His sound is something I hear in many local venues around the city, so good job HPX team on the selection. A very pleasant sound for a Wednesday night hanging out at a bar with friends.

Alex Edkins of METZ at the Marquee Ballroom. (Photo: Hannah Daley)
Alex Edkins of METZ at the Marquee Ballroom. (Photo: Hannah Daley)

Hannah: METZ had one of those shows that comes along during pop explosion that you weren’t expecting but thoroughly enjoy. For me, these are always the performances by punk bands. I don’t usually listen to the genre on my own, but anytime it’s right in front of me I’m super into it. From what I could tell, the crowd was full of some pretty dedicated METZ fans. They had really good energy and cheered for their favourite songs. Because I’m a student trying to graduate, I had to leave to work on my honours project, but this is a band that I’ll be checking out more in the future.

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