Jessica: Thursday night was a lot. I am still processing my thoughts on all the stellar acts that blessed the Marquee. I am now also dedicated to wearing comfier shoes for the rest of the performances.
Hannah was working on her honours project all night (wish her well!), so you’ll just get my ramblings for the night’s performances. You’ll also be blessed with my best attempts at good quality photos with my iPhone.
Hannah: Popping in here to say thanks! I’m tired. Check me out in Saturday’s recaps when I function mostly normally again.
My first impression was an all-female version of The Vaccines, which I immediately loved. Lead singer and drummer Jen Twynne Payne was centre stage with the beats and vocals, but it was bassist Sydney Koke that provided the main driving force behind the angsty pop-rock trio. Their music has a simplicity and straightforward quality that still is able to hit you in the gut and just make you want to move. Again, the beginning of the night had a more relaxed vibe, with most people in the front row head-bopping along. Understandable for 8 PM on a Thursday, but I would highly recommend seeing them in the future.
These guys went hard from the start. Drummer Jayson Gerycz was impossible not to watch, with the effortless ease of movement while he slammed at his kit. The head-boppers in the front seemed to be waking up now, keeping up with the new demanding tempo. The Cleveland trio (only three on stage, despite their website listing four members) brought a high energy punk rock sound that definitely suited the space of the Forum.
Owen Meany’s Batting Stance
I had heard about this band about a month before Pop Explosion started, not knowing about their “literary folk” genre. I was really pleasantly surprised heading into the Seahorse, tuning into the lyrics that were full of references to great works of literature. My favourite song had to be “Pop Odyssey: The First Person Narrative of the Bottle of Cola at a House Party”. Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like. Very playful folk rock tunes that had the audience smiling and swaying along. Give these locals a listen the next time they play in Halifax.
I went upstairs to the Marquee towards the end of her set, but it instantly made me wish I had been there from the start. Ralph was the second performer in the Women in Music Canada night that the venue was hosting. Her infectious smile and pop tunes had the whole audience dancing along with her. Musically, her style is described as a mix of old and new, with many elements influenced by 70s and 80s dance music. Combined with her stellar vocals, her music is the song that you hear on the radio and immediately turn it up to jam for a second.
There’s no proper way to sum up this awe-inspiring performance, but I will try. Like a big chunk of Halifax, I had not listened to her work before her Polaris Prize win. But after listening to La Papessa and hearing friends gushing about her SappyFest performance in August, I knew this going to be the most anticipated show for HPX.
I’ve never seen a performer command and own her space in the way Lido Pimienta is able to. She opened her show by calling on men to move to the back to make room for the woman and femmes of the audience. In addition, she called trans, two-spirit and racialized women right to the front for them to have a safe and inviting space for her performance. The whole show, she upheld this standard, calling out anyone not respecting the environment she was creating. Her dedication to her audience is amazing.
And then the music. She has such a mastery of her voice, displaying both the raw and powerful capabilities with the gentle and ethereal. She challenges her skill even further with her use of loop pedals, creating intricate harmonies with herself and her accompanying musicians. I want to learn Spanish solely to understand her lyrics. The songs use many elements found in popular music today, but she pushes the norms of melody and tone in ways that make her sound wholly unique and captivating.
As a performer, her anecdotes and style made her unforgettable. Candid, powerful, and completely unapologetic, she is an artistic powerhouse that deserves all the acclaim she’s received, and more. I can’t wait to see what future works she creates.
Oh, one more thing to add to this recap: to the white women and men who rolled their eyes when we were asked to make space for women of colour. When an Afro-Colombian princess (title up for debate, but her outfit was amazing and definitely support this notion) comes to bless your city with her music: listen to her. Actually listen. Don’t push to the front to text and take Snapchat evidence of her performance. Actually listen and support the space she is creating for those who most deserve it.
Charlotte Day Wilson
Another show I was very excited for. I’ve been listening to the song she wrote for BADBADNOTGOOD as well as her EP the past couple months. The amount of skill and work that goes into her music is evident from the first listen. Her dark and soulful voice is incredibly distinct, and her mellow tunes were a nice transition from the high-energy set Lido provided. The whole audience seemed to know all the lyrics to her songs, swaying and singing along from start to finish. She was incredibly sweet, sharing how sentimental she was to be back in Halifax. I was also very to happy to hear she will be releasing new material soon, some of which she performed during her set. Also performing crowd favourites such as “Work” and “Find You,” the atmosphere was the perfect close to the night for me.