Pop eyes

We've got our sights on this year's Halifax Pop Explosion, which kicks off with a boom on Tuesday. Here's a sneak peek at some of the week's early highlights. by Mark Black and Alison Lang


Emm Gryner

The Music Room (6181 Lady Hammond), 9:30pm, $15

Emm Gryner is one of those musicians who can make people collapse from the power of her blinding, all-encompassing coolness. Most of you know bits and pieces of the Gryner lore: She started her own label at 23, she played keys in David Bowie's band at 24 and she's transformed songs by Nick Cave, Fugazi and Thin-freakin'-Lizzy into stirring piano ballads. Still, in a world where "cool" and "nice" are quite often mutually exclusive, it's surprising to discover that Emm Gryner is actually one of those very nice people who gets genuinely excited about things---such as her upcoming first-ever Pop Explosion gig at the Music Room. She says she's equally chuffed about hanging out with her labelmates In-Flight Safety in their hometown. "They're my favourite band in this country, that's for sure," she says. One last question: What bands will Emm Gryner see during her brief sojourn on the east coast? "There's so much. I don't know," she says. "I think I'm just going to go where In-Flight Safety goes. I might even sleep on their couch." (AL)

Plays with: Daniel Ledwell (8:15pm), André Charles Thériault (7:30pm)

Jay Reatard

The Marquee (2037 Gottingen), midnight, $13 adv/$17

Those going to see Jay Reatard during the Pop Explosion with preconceived notions about his stage show and live performance---especially after a Toronto show last April got out of hand---should be forewarned: Reatard, to paraphrase Eddie Murphy, "can't put on no punch show." The 28-year-old Reatard (born Jay Lindsey), from Memphis, Tennessee, made a name for himself early on in his career with his bands The Reatards and The Lost Sounds. He was just 16 when he started The Reatards, and he was known as much for his stage antics as he was for his music. An amazing debut solo album, Blood Visions, on In the Red Records, cemented Reatard's reputation as a songwriter brilliantly straddling the line between punk and art. Not wanting to be a parody of himself, Reatard gets a little tired of the drunks asking why he didn't break something or punch someone during a show. "That's not a real show. People don't realize that. That's fucking reality. That's not planned...How much value do you put on some person who comes to a show to see someone get punched? It'd be pretty pathetic...If I was sitting around in my free time worrying about the comments on the Toronto punch video." (MB)

Read Mark Black's full telephone conversation with Jay Reatard

Plays with: Tomcat Combat (11:15pm), The Memories Attack (10:30pm), A History Of (9:45pm), Kestrels (9pm)


The Inbreds

The Marquee (2037 Gottingen), midnight, $12 adv/$15

A lot of bands keep souvenirs. For Mike O'Neill, it's an unopened bottle of SOL beer from The Inbreds' final tour. For 10 years the bottle has sat, like a sediment-filled croft of champagne, waiting for the right moment. Now, as The Inbreds' reunion show for the Halifax Pop Explosion approaches, it could be yours. "I think I'm going to give it away," says O'Neill. "Someone should have it, and it's not me anymore. I'm afraid it's going to fall off the shelf and crack, and then the asbestos team is going to have to spray down the street." It's an oddly heartwarming gesture from the band who never got to play an official farewell show in the city O'Neill calls "our second home." O'Neill is playing three other gigs at this year's festival with Laura Peek, The Beginners and The Lodge. He says he's been busy trying to choose cover songs. "You want to pick something popular, but also a little obscure," he says. "It's tricky. I'm thinking Bob Seger." (AL)

Plays with: Amos the Transparent (11:15pm), Rebekah Higgs (10:30pm), Golden Hands Before God (9:45pm), The Love Machine (9pm)


Gus' Pub (2605 Agricola) 12:30am, $8

They have been known to leap into crowds, hang from ceiling rafters, moon audiences, dump full garbage cans over their heads, light equipment on fire, steal drinks from audiences only to pour them over their heads, light themselves on fire and encourage audience members to light themselves on fire. They've found themselves banned from over half the live venues in their hometown of Tel Aviv. They've had shows stopped after 15 minutes in Seattle. Their drummer levitates over the audience---their crowds routinely carry him and his drum kit aloft while he is playing. Monotonix shows are an incredible physical blending of band and audience that often get out of control. Thankfully, the only person who has ever been hurt at a Monotonix show is singer Amir Shalev, who suffered two broken shoulders. Monotonix urges their audiences to feel good: Some take it to the extreme, as evidenced by the story of a man who became so aroused at one of their Israel shows that he began to fellate his girlfriend during their set. You may not want to hear a set of Thin Lizzy- and MC5-influenced rock, but you will want to see Monotonix.(MB)

Plays with: Metz (11:40pm), Young Widows (11pm), VKNGS (10:15pm)

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