HPX 2011: Day 5

Halifax Pop Explosion

Sleep-Deprived Musings of a Stage Manager

Day 5:  Reluctantly peeled myself out of bed to make it to an 11am meeting of “top festival minds”. Not, I’m not the head cheese of any particular festival, but I’ve worked extensively with 6 of them across Canada and I have shit to say, so why not? Unfortunately, I was one of the very few who actually had such early-morning ambition. Regardless, a worthwhile investment of my time.
Spent most of the day attending various other panels, including an interview with Damian Abraham of Fucked Up and a keynote by Martin Atkins. If you get a chance to speak with either of these fine gentlemen, take advantage. Damian’s bloody, half naked onstage persona is miles away from the sweet, well spoken and fucking funny real-life Damian. He delighted us with stories of FOX News, accidentally ending up (and vomiting everywhere) at a Fucked Up superfan dorm party and how free ice cream and deodorant nearly thwarted his music career. Martin Atkins, former drummer of NIN, Ministry, PIL and others was equally hilarious. Despite being completely off his rocker, he actually had a lot of great ideas and advice for burgeoning bands. And I’m not just saying this because I’m a sucker for English humour, chocolate bars and mini blueberry muffins (all of which he disseminated throughout his presentation). If you’re in a band, check out his book Tour:Smart.
The events of the day definitely eclipsed my last night at Reflections Cabaret in terms of awesomeness. Why? Because the lineup was all hip-hop groups, which isn’t really my thing. That seemed to be the general sentiment among HPX-goers as the crowd was lackluster for Ghettosocks and More or Les‘ combined sets. Since I’m not into that whole scene, it takes a spectacular rapper to really grab my attention and these guys just didn’t do much for me. Maybe it was the abundance of rhymes about food…seriously. Luckily, it was Hockey Night in Canada and thanks to the astounding amount of Leaf fans in Halifax, the game was on in the bar…on a TV directly in line with the stage. Perfect.
The highlight of the night was the reunification of Hip Club Groove after 15 years. Comprised of Cory “Cheklove Shakil” Bowles (yeah, that Cory Bowles), Derek “D-Rock” Mackenzie and Brian “DJ Moves” Higgins, this group was big in the early 1990s. Even through the club wasn’t as packed as we predicted, those in attendance were clearly excited to have them back. Due to a scheduling oversight (in my opinion) they weren’t the headliners and definitely should have been, they killed it. In any case, it left time for me to hang out with Cory in the greenroom post-show, discussing our beloved mutual friends (the amount of Toronto connections I’ve run into this week is incredible).
The (technical) headliner of the night was Trouble Andrew. It’s not often that a band sounds better in soundcheck than during their performance, but these guys are a special case. Their set was sloppy and arrogant, with an irritatingly gimmicky air horn sounding after every song. If you’re in a “too cool for rules” band like this, here’s some helpful hints: you’re not winning anyone over by constantly yelling at the audio tech to “turn it up!”, playing three songs when you’re told you have one left or continuing to play after the house music has started and the stage lights are off. It’s not “punk”, it’s not rebellious, it’s childish, embarrassing and a surefire way to never be invited back. That’s all I have to say about that.
I don’t want to end on a negative note, seeing as HPX 2011 has been an amazing overall experience, so here are some amusing things I learned in Halifax:

– The Citadel gun goes off at noon every day. Locals get great amusement from watching American tourists hit the ground yelling “it’s Al-Qaeda!”

– The transit system is abominable. Buses that show up (late) once an hour, drivers that don’t know their routes and no stop announcements at all. I have a new found appreciation for the TTC, which says a lot.

– Halifax Sobey’s don’t accept Sobey’s Club Cards because they’re not owned by Loblaws there. Riveting.

– For a really old and small city, there is an impressive gay scene. Kudos to the Maritime Museum for their Hello Sailor! Gay Life on the Ocean Wave exhibit.

– Last but not least, a joke told to me by a drunken show patron:

Q– How to you catch a unique mouse?

A– You neak up on him! Haha!

Until next year, Halifax!


About J2

What happens when you're a wordsy music aficionado who works for NXNE, CMW, HPX, Olio Music Festival, The JUNOs and Polaris Music Prize? You spend all of your free time blogging about it... Follow on Twitter if you're so inclined: @HearPlugged

Posted on October 24, 2011, in Sound Bites and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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