Halifax Pop Explosion: one overambitious itinerary

Jay Reatard at last year's festival

Jay Reatard at last years festival
  • Jay Reatard at last year's festival

Last year my colleague Alison Lang came up with something clever about bands to have dinner with, or something like that, to write for an intro HPX blog post, but I’ve got nothing of the sort, so here’s a little itinerary for those who are so inclined.

Although Crystal Antlers sound like overpriced home decor from Urban Outfitters, the band has their shit together and I’ve heard good things about their live shows. The Paragon lineup is stacked. I’m going to catch A History Of at the Paragon because I’ll be out of town for their album release on November 14, but I want to say I’m stoked that Truro youngsters Pig, who play Gus’ at the same time, are playing the festival. They’re a great band to see and some of the most enthusiastic kids around who are content to watch a 19+ show through the window on the sidewalk and tried to refuse my $5 for their tape Elbow Witch at a summer show, which I insisted they take.

I’m a bit up in the air about this. You can’t lose starting the night off with York Redoubt, who play the Seahorse at 9, who never disappoint and are a cavalier bunch who were kind enough to lend me some quarters when I, embarrassingly, didn’t have enough change to call my sister at Pop Montreal earlier this month. (This amid hearing and overhearing various reports from Montrealers about “this awesome band from Halifax” they saw the other night.) I’ve heard enough about Vancouver’s Said the Whale, and keep missing them at various festivals, that I’m pretty set on catching them this time (and because the folks at Herohill are usually right). Afterwards, Mates of State at the Paragon is the talk of the town for the night, and I'm guess a couple of bands are going to be a bit cuter than my tastes tend to run, but we'll see.

This happened in Montreal too: everything scheduled for Thursday night is awesome. You really can’t go wrong with any show this night, but I’m going to start out at the Company House for The Weather Station, solo project of Tamara Lindeman from Toronto’s Entire Cities. She overwhelmed me at a house show here in the spring with Timber Timbre and locals Old Joy, and afterwards I felt too withdrawn to try to buy a cd. I want to check out Yukon Blonde at Coconut Grove at 10:10, but I’m guessing that won’t work due to geography, and the Divorce Records showcase at Gus’. Dead Wife plays at 10:30, followed by Grand Trine and Nadja. Divorce knows their stuff, and this is one of the shows I’m most excited about for the festival. If I could be in two places at once, I’d also make it to the Paragon for Think About Life at 11:10.

I haven’t seen The Grass in years, so I’ll probably start out there at Gus’ at 10:00. It breaks my heart that Lake of Stew and Entire Cities are scheduled at the same time, (12:00 at the Paragon and Gus’, respectively), because I know Entire Cities puts on a rousing, foot-thumping banjo-twanging live show, and based on what I’ve heard from others, and their cd Ain’t Tired of Lovin’ (which became my road-trip favourite this summer), Montrealers Lake of Stew do too. Switching gears, I’m going to attempt to make it to the Seahorse in time for Japanther at 12:30, then Brooklyn art rockers Pterodactyl around the corner at the Toothy Moose at 1:45 am.

Timber Timbre is one of those artists I just hadn’t bothered to check out until somebody gave me such a glowing recommendation for that aforementioned house show this spring. His record is great, but his live performance is intense and spooky and stunning, and St. Matthew’s should be a terrific venue for this (8 pm, followed by Jenn Grant). Olenka and the Autumn Lovers claim to mix eastern European and North American folk styles and I’ve been intrigued since reading about them earlier in the year (Coconut Grove, 10:20). I missed Vancouver blues-garage two-piece The Pack A.D.’s show in July due to a last-minute trip out of town but I’m determined to make this one (Toothy Moose, 11:45). A couple friends have recommended Zeus, and I’ve been talking and listening to You Say Party, We Say Die! and Japandroids all week, so this Paragon show will probably be my last stop. My festival co-bloggers have been talking up Toronto hair-metal band Diemonds to me, though, which is tempting (Toothy Moose, 1:45), and of course Dog Day never fails to please (Seahorse, 12:30). Afterwards, afterparty’s at your place, right?

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