Halifax Pop Explosion 2015

Halifax Pop Explosion


Music Festivals to me are like all-inclusive vacations to other people. Nothing makes me happier, more excited or more at peace than the thought of heading to a music festival. That’s why I’m stoked that my little-big city of Halifax, Nova Scotia has developed its own – Halifax Pop Explosion (HPX).

Obviously, HPX can’t compare to the wondrous outdoor extravaganzas like Coachella, Bonnaroo or Osheaga, but it still provides music fans with nearly a week of awesome tunes. The festival occurs every year in late October and features some incredible bands and artists from Canada and other parts of the world, and takes place at multiple venues throughout the city.

I took in as much of the festival as I could this year and these were some of my favourite acts:

Ryan Hemsworth at Olympic Hall:

A sold-out show at my favourite venue on a Wednesday evening – this is how I kicked off the festival. The Halifax native absolutely killed his set. His DJ skills are so smooth and effortless that I didn’t even care that I was spilled on numerous times while making my way to the front of the crowd.

Port Cities at the Company House:

Port Cities is comprised of some of Nova Scotia’s most promising musicians: Breagh MacKinnon, Carlton Stone and Dylan Gouthro, so it was no wonder they were able to pack the small acoustic-friendly venue in minutes. They’re a folk/pop band that hasn’t even released an album yet, but have so much solo material to combine that it doesn’t even really matter. There was a lot of piano, a lot of awesome guitar riffs and some really passionate vocals.

July Talk at Olympic Hall:

July Talk is up there with one of my favourite bands. I’ve seen them a million times and each time they’re even more entertaining. The duo, who are passionately in love, feed off of each other’s energy and put on an unforgettable show. They interacted with the crowd, played new songs from their upcoming record and left it all on the stage. The Toronto based band could, without a doubt, fill some of Halifax’s largest venues, but I’m so glad they’re still playing the more intimate spots where concert goers can really feel like they’re part of the show.

Alvvays at Olympic Hall:

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, I love female leads. Molly Rankin of Alvvays is no exception – and it’s not just because she’s from the same island (Cape Breton) as me. Alvvays is a pop band that ditches the more traditional bubble-gum, romance sounds for something a bit more gruff. They also rock super hard. Rankin swung her blonde hair throughout her entire performance while unknowingly flirting with the audience who absolutely erupted when they broke into their hit, Marry Me, Archie.

Dub Kartel at the Seahorse:

The Seahorse is a dingy basement bar underneath a bigger music venue that just happens to be up the street from my house. If it wasn’t so conveniently located, I probably never would’ve discovered Dub Kartel – a hip-hop/reggae band from Halifax. Regulars to the Seahorse, Dub Kartel closed Friday night of HPX in true Dub Kartel fashion. They jump a lot. They sweat a lot. And they had the crowd moving… a lot! There’s no band that has more fun on stage than Dub Kartel, and it’s contagious. You can’t help but dance or at least bob your head to their energetic reggae sounds.

Like I’ve said before, HPX is not to be compared to the huge festivals that bring in hundreds of thousands of flower children each year. It’s nothing to sneeze at either, though. The festival is put on (mostly) by a small group of music enthusiasts and a whole bunch of volunteers that are happy to deal with drunk Haligonians for a week just to stand in the back of a concert hall to enjoy some tunes. I have no doubt that the festival will continue to grow like it has consistently since it began in 1993. I truly look forward to being exhausted, albeit incredibly happy, at work for a week because I’ve been staying up too late to catch the insanely talented acts that HPX continues to bring in year to year.

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