Amidst all of this holiday season craziness, here is a list of favourite things that happened at the Halifax Pop Explosion 2012, the twentieth anniversary of the festival, for you to ponder how awesome the festival is and why you should probably attend it next year.
Not sure if you guys all know (you probably do) but of Montreal is fantastic live. Hands down one of the more entertaining shows I’ve ever been to. I found myself giggling uncontrollably a number of times throughout their concert, which included body suits, pretend action fights, and lots and lots of balloons. When two guys in bodysuits unleashed long, tied-together balloons from between their legs (resembling a number of things…) I was quite taken aback at first, but it was absolutely hilarious and the balloons created some unbelievable fun in the crowd. More magic was added with Kevin Barnes adorning the stage in lace and vibrant make-up, which, when paired with the psychedelic lights and their funky pop music, made for a lively and delightful show.
The beautiful St. Matthew’s Church in downtown Halifax was a perfect venue for my favourite psychedelic one-man band. Apparently Bradford Cox uses stream of consciousness to write his music, and this came through entirely in his show. The overlapping layers of sounds and melodies that are unique to Cox’s sound were especially beautiful in the acoustics of the church. At the end of his performance it was as if everyone was waking up from some enchanting experience, which is exactly what happened! If you haven’t heard Atlas Sound’s ‘Walkabout’ I would go do that right now.
The Elwins with Luke Lalonde of Born Ruffians
The Elwins were one of those “discovered” bands for me at Pop Explosion, having never heard of them before the show. But they got me dancing and singing nevertheless! They were fantastic at interacting with the crowd, making everyone feel comfortable and excited. At one point they got Luke Lalonde (Born Ruffians) on stage to sing their rendition of ‘Countdown’ by Beyonce which got everyone groovin’. Fun band = fun show!
Listening to Black Lips is always a pick me up, and seeing them live was no different. Their Georgia roots came through in the way they interacted with the crowd (free beer!) and through their raw punk sound. The music was dance-able and mosh-able and left everyone sweatin’ by the end of it. Favourite song? “Modern Art,” which outlines a drug trip at the Louvre. Interestingly enough, they had just come back from a tour in the Middle East! I had to buy a t-shirt from them just for the graphics on the front… “Black Lips” written in an Arabic font, a bald Britney Spears and “bitch!” in dripping red letters. Fantastic.
The City of Halifax
Halifax is the perfect city to host such a festival for its size and convenience. Hopping from show to show at an outdoor festival, for instance, is quite easy, but placing that in a city with multiple venues can be difficult. However, Halifax is a great size with an amazing array of venues to host such world-renowned bands and make the entire experience an pleasurable and lively one. I was able to walk from one show to another in twenty minutes tops, which came in handy when there were so many good bands to see! Some of my favourite venues are the Seahorse Bar and Tavern on Argyle street, and St. Matthew’s church, each holding a specific array of music to add a beautiful atmosphere to the show. And, because many of the shows were in downtown Halifax the many bars and food joints across town were hoppin’. All of this contributed to the Pop Explosion being one of my favourite experiences of 2012, hands down.