A-Z Guide to Halifax Pop Explosion 2015

A is for All Ages

Once again, many of the marquee names from the festival play all ages shows. The St. Matthew’s shows featuring Majical Cloudz, Andy Shauf, The Weather Station, Nap Eyes, Jenn Grant and more are all ages. Rich Aucoin’s double-header with Symphony Nova Scotia is also an all ages affair.

B is for Braids

The Montreal experimental pop group Braids released one of the deepest records of the year, Deep In The Iris. Besides having the word deep in the title, the lyrical content explores and challenges societal norms on a number of levels. It’s music that matters. They had a mind-blowing performance at the Polaris Prize gala and they play HPX twice, so there’s no excuse to not see them. They play at Reflections Friday, Oct. 23 at midnight and the Multi-Purpose Centre on Saturday, Oct. 24

C is for Cloud(z)

Two big name performers from this year’s lineup are Cloud Nothings and Majical Cloudz. You could classify Cleveland, Ohio’s Cloud Nothings as Cumulonimbus while Montreal’s Majical Cloudz is more Cirrostratus.

D is for Donairs

We suspect the only reason the Ryan Hemsworth’s Secret Songs Showcase is taking at the Olympic Community Centre is because of the venue’s close proximity to Tony’s Donairs. Ryan Hemsworth is very passionate about donairs. Although King of Donairs a few blocks over is his favourite. 

E is for Eats

The best burgers in the city come from Ace Burger at Gus’s Pub, an HPX venue at night. The festival has a bunch of community partners with discounts, so fill your stomach accordingly.

F is for Free

“I’d love to go to Pop Explosion, but I’m broke.” – many people in Halifax. Fortunately you can see a bunch of great bands for free. CKDU have shows Wednesday-Friday featuring Mauno, Energy Slime, Walrus, Quaker Parents and more. The room is small so be sure to get there before the 5:30 p.m. start times. Then on Friday and Saturday afternoon, check out the Bruised Tongue showcase and the Mint Records showcase. Finally, Octopi Computers have free shows at 5 p.m. Thursday to Saturday.

G is for garlic fingers

 Last food related letter, we promise. HPX is a marathon. By Saturday night last year I was running out of steam. A group of us picked up an extra large garlic fingers instead of sticking around for the last few bands of the festival. I left my phone at the pizza joint and for a moment thought I would rather eat garlic fingers than retrieve my phone. Garlic fingers are that good. But seriously, especially if you’re in town for HPX, eat garlic fingers.

H is for Hip Hop

HPX have put together some (Ghostface) killah hip hop shows the past few festivals. This year they have Houston producer and recording artist Travis Scott headlining the big show at the Multi-Purpose Centre on Thursday. We’re super jazzed pumped about Jazz Cartier. The Toronto artist’s Marauding in Paradise mixtape is a must-listen for Canadian hip hop heads.

I is for Identification

After the Election on the 19th (everybody: vote!), people should be in the habit of having lots of identification. Better safe than sorry, make sure you bring at least two pieces of ID to each show.

J is for Joyfultalk

Electronic wizards Joyfultalk sit down in front of a heap of wires, synths, keyboards, and custom gadgets then make mind-altering sounds. They’ll shift St. Matthew’s church into another dimension on Thursday night and there’s no guarantee audience members will return to reality.

K is for Knox, Taylor

Taylor Knox released his first solo album this year, but he’s been an integral part of the Canadian music scene for years. He’s worked with Owen Pallett, Rich Aucoin, Hayden, Jason Collett and more. He plays at the Company House on Saturday, Oct. 24 at 9 pm.

L is for LOL

While we focus on the music aspect of HPX, comedy has become an integral part of the festival. Comedians appearing this year include Mark Little, Neil Hamburger, Bob Kerr, Cheryl Hann, Kathleen McGee, Eric Andre, and other humans to make you laugh. 

M is for Mint Records

We’ve covered Mint Records bands on Mixtape Magazine a lot over the years. They have a showcase at the Seahorse on Saturday at 2 p.m. featuring Monomyth, Tough Age, Energy Slime and Fake Tears. Check out our feature on Tough Age as well as an awesome curated playlist by the band. pm

N is for New Discoveries

My favourite part of Halifax Pop Explosion is finding new favourites. Last year we saw Brave Radar for the first time and were instant fans. Approach the schedule with an open mind and you never know what you’ll discover.

O is for Vogue Dots

 If an O is in small enough type, it looks like a dot. Vogue Dots put on a dark and dreamy show of electro-pop. They sound like the future. They play at Olympic Hall on Wednesday, Oct. 21 and The Seahorse Tavern on Saturday, Oct. 24.

P is for Pop! Talks

No longer called Pop! Talks, instead it’s simply known as Conference. All conference sessions are free with a bracelet or a minimum $5 donation. They’re super useful for artists in the industry and music nerds who want to learn more. This year features a talk by Pitchfork VP of Product Matt Dennewitz talking about open source technology, a panel on women in music, and more.

Q is for Quaker Parkers


The Grundy Brothers no longer look like this, probably. They play the CKDU lobby at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23.

R is for RealEyez

Great name. Great vibes. RealEyez. 

Check her out at the Seahorse on Friday, Oct. 23.

S is for Sorrey

Making their Halifax live debut is P.E.I.’s Sorrey. Check out our Q&A with Emily Sorrey earlier this summer, and a curated HPX playlist coming up. Catch Sorrey at Reflections on Wednesday, Oct. 21.

T is for Twitter

We embrace social media with open arms. Hang out with us, @mixtape_mag.

U is for Un Blonde

The project of Montreal-based musician Jean-Sebastien Audet  aka Un Blonde is that feeling where you drank a little too much coffee and feel all jittery but still very chill.

V is for Vitamins

Don’t get sick. If you stay up late every night and share the same breathing space with strangers in close corners all week, you’ll get sick. Take your vitamins, eat some vegetables and give ‘er.

W is for Wristband

The best way to vaccinate against FOMO (fear of missing out) is an HPX wristband. We can’t guarantee you won’t have any FOMO side effects. 

X is for HPX

Yeah, go letter X! The fun that punctuates Halifax all year round.

Y is for You’ve Changed Records

A fantastic label is well represented at HPX this year. Their showcase at Gus’ Pub on Saturday night features Jon Mckiel, Nap Eyes, Nick Ferrio, and Adrian Teacher and the Subs. Nap Eyes also perform with the Weather Station at St. Matthew’s Church on Friday night and prepare to weep because it will be a beautiful show. New signee Partner play at Olympic Hall on Saturday.

Z is for ZZZZ

You won’t get much sleep during HPX, but that’s fine. See items A through Y for better options than snoozin’.

photo of HPX by Evan McIntyre

About Jonathan Briggins 71 Articles
Editor-in-chief of Mixtape magazine.