It’s the end of October, which means it’s time for Halifax Pop Explosion. Ahead of the 26th edition of the festival, the Mixtape team once again presents the A to Z guide to Halifax Pop Explosion. It’s our chance to highlight some of the bands we’re looking forward to the most and to share some of our wisdom we’ve acquired from staying out to late and maybe eating too many garlic fingers over the years.
A is for Aquakultre
One of the most exciting artists to come out of Halifax in the last couple of years, Lance Sampson a.k.a. Aquakultre has had a busy 2018. A plumber by trade and musician on the side, Aquakultre won the 2018 CBC Music Searchlight Competition and followed that up with a residency at the National Music Centre in Calgary. Self-described as “aquavibe”, you won’t want to miss the splash of dreamy and R&B waves from Aquakultre.
The Seahorse Tavern // Fri. Oct. 19//9pm
B is for Born Ruffians
Today I had a Facebook “On This Day” memory pop up with a photo I took of Born Ruffians at HPX on this day in 2012. The photo was taken with an iPhone 4, so it looks terrible. Many generations of iPhones later and Born Ruffians are back at HPX, headlining Friday night at the Marquee Club. The band released a new album, Uncle, Duke & The Chief, earlier this year with the its original drummer back after taking some time away while at school. Luckily Friday isn’t a school night, so there’s no excuse for missing this one.
The Marquee Ballroom//Fri., Oct. 19//12:00am
C is for CKDU
Located in the Student Union Building at Dalhousie University, the CKDU Lobby shows are always a great not-so-secret at HPX. Ideal if you’re a student, the free and all ages shows this year include Sorrey and Eamon McGrath Devastation Trio on Thursday and Bonnie Trash and Property on Friday. Both shows start at 5:30 but get there a little early because a community radio station lobby can get crowded.
D is for Dog Day
The iconic Halifax band made a pleasantly surprising comeback this summer after going on hiatus after the 2013 album Fade Out. Nancy Urich and Seth Smith are both back along with original drummer KC Spidle and new member Meg Yoshida. Both Urich and Yoshida play together in Not You and Yoshida and Spidle play together in Bad Vibrations. While it’s not the traditional definition of supergroup, this truly is a super group and it’s good to have Dog Day back.
The Seahorse Tavern//Wed. Oct. 17//12:30am
E is for Acadian Embassy Showcase
The whole Acadian Embassy roster is together for one show at the Seahorse on Wednesday night with performances from Fossil Cliffs, Quiet Parade and Rain Over. St. Ambrose along with friends Natalie Lynn and Céleste Godin. The bands on the small label are all friends but basically family and the shows always have that comforting feeling.
The Seahorse Tavern//Wed., Oct. 17//8pm
F is for Future
No, not that future. But there are two future bands playing HPX this year: Future Peers and Future States. Future Peers is like a sugar kick after a can of soda while you’re trying to get through studying for a math exam. Future States is more like an afternoon cup of tea on a day where you deserve a good warm beverage. Or after that math exam when you need to chill out a bit.
Future Peers // The Local // Fri. Oct. 19//2:45pm
Future States//The T-Room//Thurs. Oct. 18//8:30pm
G is for Garlic Fingers
Much like donairs, garlic fingers are a must during Halifax Pop Explosion. In fact, with the Mixtape team, garlic fingers always take priority.
(Full disclosure, this is a copy and paste from last year because really it is evergreen content)
H is for Hello Delaware
It’s safe to call the members of Hello Delaware some of the hardest working musicians in this city. Fronted by Dana Beeler, the band features members of The Town Heroes, Floodland, Cameron and we’re probably missing more to be honest. The music itself features honest lyrics with nothing held back as the band powers through some gritty pop rock.
The Seahorse Tavern//Thurs. Oct. 18//10:45pm
I is for Instagram
This is a shameless plug for you to follow us on Instagram @mixtape_mag where we’ll be posting stories all week.
J is for Jeremy Dutcher
Even before Jeremy Dutcher won the 2018 Polaris Music Prize for his album Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa, his Halifax Pop Explosion show was the standout event of the festival. The album uses recordings of traditional Wolastoq songs from 100-year-old wax cylinders. It’s a language spoken by fewer than 100 people and it’s absolutely stunning to watch a Dutcher performance that honours and preserves his past and educates the audience members.
The Marquee Ballroom//Wed., Oct. 17//7:30pm
K is for Keonté Beals
The 21-year-old from North Preston has already won a number of awards for his pop and R&B music. His first performance happened at the historic Saint Thomas Baptist Church in North Preston and the buzz hasn’t stopped building since.
The Seahorse Tavern//Thurs. Oct. 18//11:30pm
L is for Library
The Halifax Central Library is an architectural wonder but also a great community hub. There’s a free all-ages show on Friday night featuring Nnedi Nebula, Jacob Alan Jaeger, Georgia Parker, Cory Reinisch, Carrie Fussell and Michael Booher. On Saturday night, Music Nova Scotia presents Orchestrated Neighbours with a lineup to be announced.
M is for Moon King
The project of Daniel Benjamin, Moon King floats around different elements of dreamy electronic and pop music. Its most recent album, Hamtramck ’16, is full of cool disco, ready for the dance floor.
The Seahorse Tavern//Thurs. Oct. 18//9:15pm
N is for New Discoveries
The lineup may be a little light on big names or headliners compared to previous years, but there are still a lot of bands from different parts of the music scene coming together for the festival. A couple bands that I’m personally excited for after the lineup announce include Juice Girls, Trails, The Sorority.
O is for Opening Reception
We can’t recommend the the Jeremy Dutcher show enough, so we’re mentioning it here twice. The festival opening reception kicks off at the Marquee with Holy Hum at 6:30 and Dutcher at 7:30.
P is for Praises
The solo project of Jesse Crowe from Beliefs (who performed HPX last year), Praises has taken a turn towards electronic music and we’re here for it. Heavily influenced by trip hop artists like Portishead and Massive Attack, this show is worth a trip to the South End of Halifax.
The T-Room//Thurs., Oct. 18//12am
Q is for Quake Matthews and Kayo
Last year we said Quake Matthews and Kayo go together like peanut butter and jam. Well the two of them are back at HPX again this year and really, Quake has the letter Q cornered in this annual A to Z guide. The hip hop artists both released new music this fall so expect this show to be as fresh as a late night donair.
The T-Room//Sat., Oct. 20//11pm (Kayo) and 12am (Quake Matthews)
R is for the Rebecca Cohn
A staple of HPX, every year the Symphony Nova Scotia teams up with an artist for a couple of shows. Usually it’s a once-in-a-lifetime sort of performance because, well, how often does a band get to work with a big ol’ symphony to bring songs to life in a new way. This year, it’s time for Port Cities to shine on Friday and Saturday night at 7:30 pm.
S is for the Sorority
Simply put, the Sorority are four rappers from Toronto: Phoenix Pagliacci, Lex Leosis, Haviah Mighty and Keysha Freshh. The women met at an event for International Women’s Day in 2016, all on solo paths at the time, but came together to form the Sorority.
The Marque Ballroom//Thurs., Oct. 18//11:15pm
T is for Trails
Sometimes a musician is seemingly able to slow down time to a crawl and create a new world for their music. The track “Leave Her Be” by the Ottawa musician Trails does just that.
The Marquee Ballroom//Wed., Oct. 17//10:30pm
U is for U
Are you okay if we skip this letter? Okay, moving along.
V is for Valfreya
We know you don’t come to Mixtape for your metal needs. Luckily, Halifax Pop Explosion has you covered and you can check out Montreal’s Valfreya at the metal showcase at Gus’ Pub on Friday night.
Gus’ Pub//Fri., Oct. 19//12am
W is for the Witch Prophet
Toronto-based Ayo Leilani is a singer-songwriter that borrows elements of hip hop and electronic music and loops it all together to create vibrant soundscapes.
The Seahorse Tavern//Thurs. Oct. 18//10:15pm
X is for Xpand
The Xpand Music Conference takes place from Oct. 18-20 with discussions, keynote speeches and panels. It’s free and open to the public with a focus on the industry side of things.
Y is for Yohvn Blvck
From the island country of Antigua and now based in Halifax, Yohvn Blvck brings his special blend of hip hop to HPX.
The Seahorse Tavern//Sat. Oct. 20//10pm
Z is for Zaki Ibrahim
While an artist doesn’t need a Polaris Music Prize nomination to prove their music is good, the 2013 shortlist and 2018 longlist nominations for Zaki Ibrahim are an indicator fo the critical acclaim for the soul and hip hop artist.
The Seahorse Tavern//Sat. Oct. 20//11pm