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Get ‘LO 

You may only live once, but that doesn’t stop the rest of us from looking back fondly at a year in Halifax music.

click to enlarge Eric’s Trip: Solid dudes.
  • Eric’s Trip: Solid dudes.

At the end of last year, Drake released The Motto, which made YOLO (You Only Live Once) the most abused phrase of 2012, so much so that his mixtape with the bawse Rick Ross, originally titled YOLO, was later renamed. But YOLO dominated pop-culture and, by extension, our vibrant Halifax music scene.

This year, everybody YOLO'd with compilations and tapes, alternative venues, nostalgic festivals, new media projects, rap releases and a general unstoppable creative energy to fuel once-in-a-lifetime-style efforts that set the bar pretty high for 2013.

At the top of 2012, Pigeon Row released a sweet download comp, Your Samples Our Obsession, of Halifax's quirkiest bands. Then, Electric Voice Records put out its first double-LP of world industrial and experimental music. In October, Craig Hamlin and Matt Grace of The Fat Stupids put together Stupid Brain: An East Coast Punk Rock Compilation, which showcased the best local punk bands going.

Tapes, too: Monomyth, Old & Weird, Dyscontrol, Virgil's Girls and many more used this cheap and easy-to-produce medium. Break out the old Sony two-decks.

The Marquee Club also lived once for Halifax Pop Explosion, but with the continued dearth of live music venues, folks got alternative. One Block Barbershop opened for summer shows, ye olde chicken-hole Oasis now hosts local acts, ProSkates stayed active, and 1313 Hollis is still available for bookings. Sad Rad, a new all-ages venue, got on board, while Monday night Reflections Cabaret mainstay Rockin 4$Dollars celebrated seven years. Along with Shake It Dance, featuring gloom and punk, Jacob's Lounge in Dartmouth had a run of Friday punk shows, often preceded by live comedy.

Not since Picnicface at Ginger's Tavern has live comedy seemed so popular in Halifax. Two thousand twelve was the first year ever that Halifax Pop Explosion added two comedy shows (Eugene Mirman with local guests) to the lineup. HPX executive director Jonny Stevens says we can expect more comedy for HPX 2013: "Laughter, alongside music, is good for the soul." Plus, web series-turned-Eastlink slot, Flag on the Play, started opening shows, while Cheryl Hann and other HRM comedians provided comic interludes at Sad Rad and Gus' Pub. And why not? Like Ke$ha (kind of) says, let's make the most it.

The Summersonic Festival returned to Garrison Grounds with a full roster of beloved'90s and '00s acts like The Vandals, Ben Harper and Stars. Festivals this year seemed generally nostalgic. Halifax indie heroes, The Super Friendz, headlined HPX, former Inbred Mike O'Neill made a comeback, and The Constantines' Bry Webb dropped in for the Halifax Urban Folk Festival. It was a celebration of golden days with a real optimism for our local music future. Sometimes you live twice.

For instance, Eric's Trip is back again. The former New Brunswick band just re-released its 2008 feature film for free online; Dog Day's Seth Smith put out drug flick, Lowlife, at the Atlantic Film Festival, winning the Audience Award for Best Feature.

The local hip-hop scene was also bumping this year. Releases from Jay Mayne (#Chop Trees Over Everything), Cam Smith (Ocean Blue) and Quake Matthews (The Book of Matthew) were hot hot hot, and the Red Bull Thre3style Nationals with DJ IV and Scratch Bastid pumped people up. Also, Bone Thugs N Harmony and Ludacris came to town. Come on, that's awesome.

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