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Friday, October 24, 2014

HPX: Day three, in words

Dyscontrol, Weekend Dads, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, COLLIDE, Cheryl Hann and Nick Thune

Posted By and on Fri, Oct 24, 2014 at 3:29 PM

  • Lenny Mullins

Halifax is making a very typical Halifax impression for all these out-of-towners by insisting on raining constantly for the entire duration of the Halifax Pop Explosion. That said, it hasn't "dampened" enthusiasm (HAHA GOOD ONE) at all and last night's shows were a pretty good time.

click to enlarge Dyscontrol - HEATHER GRANT
  • Heather Grant
  • Dyscontrol

I got to the Olympic Centre early to see Dyscontrol and Weekend Dads and Like A Motorcycle before rushing over the the Forum to catch Raekwon and Ghostface. Little did I know, I needn't have rushed anywhere (more on that later). Coors Banquet-spokesband Dyscontrol played a solid and tight set—I'm not only saying this because this a band of grown men, but there's a maturity to Dyscontrol's sound and delivery that's reassuring. It's practiced and time-tested, if that makes sense as a way to describe a band. And I—an authority on the subject—say it does! Lachlan MacDonald expressed his moderate sleepiness, and when an audience member yelled "not an excuse!" he got a (light-hearted) earful from MacDonald about his four-month-old, awake and crying at 3am. Every night is Pop Explosion for a new parent, folks, but with none of the music. Think about that for a second as you re-up your condom supply.

click to enlarge Weekend Dads - HEATHER GRANT
  • Heather Grant
  • Weekend Dads

Weekend Dads celebrated a reunion on stage with zippy pop-punk songs about wine, other people and various complaints. I love a good happy sounding song about malaise so this was right up my alley. Bassist/vocalist Goose is an affable frontperson, and doled out hugs to his bandmates soon as they finished, which was sweet.

Ghost & Raek - LENNY MULLINS
  • Lenny Mullins
  • Ghost & Raek

I decided to whip over to the Forum to see the status of the Raekwon/Ghostface show, which resulted in missing Like A Motorcycle. Unfortunate, but HPX is nothing if not an exercise in making tough calls that you may or may not regret.

Speaking of regret, while the Raekwon/Ghostface show was full of fans anxiously awaiting Raekwon's 9pm advertised start time, neither The Chef nor Pretty Toney graced the stage until 10:45pm. The lengthy wait time caused a general rumble in the crowd: Realists left, pessimists boo-ed, optimists chanted "WU-TANG!" in an effort to get something to happen. When a fairly comfortable looking couch was rolled out on to the stage at 10:40pm, the crowd went wild—which is a pretty funny thing for a crowd to go wild for. I sort of wished we had all kept cheering that couch for at least another 30 minutes. Also, seeing that a couch is part of the stage set up doesn't really prime an audience member for an energetic set, shall we say.

Of course I say this, but if I had my way I'd never play a single show without a couch on stage, so good on 'em.

Finally Raekwon and Ghostface took to the stage, with The Extremities' Shaun Ryan on the decks—who did a bang up job, by the way.

I happened to be standing in a small pocket of very small Wu-Tang superfans who completely lost their minds for the duration of the concert, which increased my own enjoyment drastically. That's not to say the show wasn't major, there was so much more energy from Ghostface compared to his last Halifax date in April. Starting the set with "I Can't Go To Sleep," Raekwon and Ghostface were in good spirits, clearly full of love (or something) and funny banter.

"They always give us trouble at the border… but we always sneak through! This Bud's for you!"

"Y'all like hockey? That's some ice, right there."

"They called us the black Beatles of rap! And listen, I have something serious to tell you right now—Wu-Tang Killa bees, we're on a swarm."

"Put your finger up for ODB! I just felt his spirit come in my body right now…" (launches into "Shimmy Shimmy Ya")

"After party's at the… what is it? Agabar?" (This was the result of a hilarious mishearing of "Argyle Bar." It never got resolved so I hope the attendance on that was all right.)

As he did in April, Ghostface brought up a selection of audience members to perform "Protect Ya Neck", including one Tyrone from Trailer Park Boys, which Ghostface misheard as "The Twelve O'Clock Boys." Later on, BADBADNOTGOOD joined Ghost and Raek for a few songs, there was a giant Canadian flag on the video screen, we'd all long forgotten about that hour and forty minute wait and were just enjoying an awesome show.

After a rousing crowd chant of "PEACE" we all went home to eat chips. As Adria put it: "It's like the Halifax Carb Explosion, honestly." —Stephanie Johns

Yesterday, I was so lucky to see the COLLIDE Creative Technology Conference panel, "The Journey, Not the Destination" with Dartmouth designer James White AKA Signalnoise. I've been a big fan for a long time so I was really excited. White's been cultivating his appealing retro aesthetic for the last 30 years, and his WWE Superstars illustrated series is so amazing to me.

click to enlarge i_jakethesnake.jpg

A kid of the '80s, much of the media from the era plays into White's design: "The '80s had all the best stuff. It was equal parts awesome and ridiculous," he said. Things like super-hero comic books, the WWF, the Masters of the Universe, heavy metal, technicolour network logos and Nintendo videogames ("I've had a no-Sega policy since 1988") were the starting and continuing points of his brand principles. He gave a fast visual history of his work, showing how his childhood illustrations turned into a passion for movie posters and limited runs of cartoonish prints, to art shows, presentations and contracts all over the world. White's most recent sick project was illustrating posters for Ubisoft's cyber-throwback game, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.

click to enlarge crg_bd1.jpg
White offered helpful idioms that were simple yet inspiring principles for any creative practice: you never know where your personal work will lead if you don't put it out there (i.e. abuse your social media); never overlook a silly idea (much of his success has been owed to following through on a passion project); if you're given even just a little bit of creative freedom on something, run with it; and, finally, "Don't be a dick." It was one of the most motivating presentations I've ever seen and made me feel confident in my own weird projects (wrestling). He was certainly engaging and I think everyone in Halifax should be aware of this artist's power.

After White's talk, I went down to the HPX kiosk to pick up my freebie HPX chapstick. "Is this used?" I asked the volunteers. The pretty cute guy next to me laughed out loud. I thought, "Heh, I made that guy laugh." Fast forward a few hours later and American comedian Nick Thune is at The Company House. I realize that's the guy I made laugh with my chapstick joke! I made Nick Thune laugh! Where's my Canadian Comedy Award? Anyway, Thune captivated the room, but it was already warmed up by Halifax's Cheryl Hann with the best 15-minutes I've ever seen from her. Between her "angry feminist comedian" bit and actual feminist comedian bit, she was strong, intelligent and creative. Cheryl, you killed it. You made Thune laugh way harder than I did.

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