Rewind HPX day 2: BadBadNotGood, Moon, Gabrielle Papillon and many more!

Day two of Halifax Pop Explosion has come and gone. And in case you missed it, here’s your recap from the Mixtape crew. We’ve also got photos from last night.

Elgin-Skye 9 p.m. at The Company House

Elgin-Skye walked on stage in a Wonder Woman outfit, spangled underpants and all. “I’m trying to be taken more seriously,” she told us, “so I’m going to play a song about zombies.” Her nerd-core, plugged-in folk brings to mind a high school coffeehouse where the geeky girl gets noticed in a climactic hollywood-like scene. Her excitable attitude may alienate some, but like any underdog you’ll root for her by the end even if you’re still a bit confused. This girl needs to be on TV.

Cold Warps 9 p.m. at Olympic Community Hall

If the HPX show was your first time experiencing Cold Warps, chances are you thought their music was really awesome, but they were a little strange. Early on in their set, someone from the audience requested they play naked. Singer Paul Hammond replied “That’s one way to play, but we are going to play the way we always will, which is not naked.” Towards the end of the set, bass player Ryan Allen sat down on the stage, “getting serious for a second” and rambled on about Wavves, sneaking into the green room last year and other pressing topics on his mind. If you know Allen, it was hilarious. If you don’t, well maybe it still was. The energetic and tight pop-punk harmonies from the band had the audience crowd surfing and moshing.

Gabrielle Papillon 9:30 p.m. at The Company House

Gabrielle Papillon was added late to the lineup but it was perfect timing. She’s set to record a new album this winter and shared her new work with the HPX audience. She played solo at Mixtape’s launch but tonight Papillion was backed by vocal harmonies from Sasha Muise and Sean MacGillivray. MacGillivary also jammed along with an electric stand-up bass. A highlight was the emotional song, “Go into the Night.” Written from the perspective of her great great grandmother the night she was lost at sea, the song has garnered her a nomination for the SOCAN songwriter of the year award.

Moon 10 p.m. at Gus’ Pub

Halifax band Moon played a show without usual guitarist/keyboardist Graeme Stewart. He was replaced by somebody who looked the exact same but was wearing a cape and Zorro mask. The combination of steady bass and drums along with guitars satisfied any post-punk cravings festival goers may have had. The sounds of the flute added to the space-altering sounds of Moon. The most memorable moment of the set came when bass/guitarist/vocalist Andrew Neville delayed the show for a few moments after a necklace hung on his microphone got stuck in his guitar strings. “That’s the last time I’ll try to look cool like a goth while playing,” an embarrassed Neville said to an entertained crowd.

Old Man 10 p.m. at Michael’s Bar & Grill

Old Man is a new band that picks up perfectly where legendary Halifax math-rocks bands such as North of America left off. They played for a small crowd that couldn’t have been more than 40 people, but everyone that was there experienced something special.

Old Man played a set of blistering math-rock mixed with elements of late 80s and early 90s hardcore punk, pulling it off in the most beautiful way. The technicality involved in the music was executed as if they’ve been performing for 50 years, when it was only their first. They’re a sight to be seen, and they may just be the best new band in Halifax.

Wavves 11 p.m. at Olympic Community Hall

Wavves made their Halifax debut last night to a packed house.  Within seconds of the San Diego natives’ first song, the low-key Olympic Hall turned into one giant mosh pit. Limbs were flailing all over and the crowd surfing didn’t stop until lead singer Nathan Williams’s last song.

Though they played one of HPX’s larger venues, their set felt personal with Bassist Stephen Pope telling the crowd of the only other time he played in Halifax (with the late Jay Reatard in 2008).  Pope says he fell off the stage, ripped his pants and since he wasn’t wearing underwear, ended up showing half the audience his ass crack for the rest of the night.

The group played favourites like “Sail to the Sun” and “9 Is God”, their song made exclusively for Grand Theft Auto V. By the end of their set, the Olympic Hall was a few degrees warmer and a whole lot smellier.

Castle Wolfenstein 12 a.m. at Michael’s Bar and Grill

Have you ever wondered what music would be playing if you were sent to Hell? Well, if you ask me, I think it Castle Wolfenstein. This band has been around Halifax for quite some time and they get better and better with every performance.

They play a unique style of dark hardcore punk mixed with elements of black metal akin to bands such as Cursed. They only played for about twenty minutes, but those twenty minutes were absolutely streamlined and without pause. The only breaks in the set happened when the bands briefly tuned their guitar and the only words that weren’t screamed by the vocalist, Cody, were when the band finished their set and he said “thank you.” The crowd seemed to love it all the way through, with people moshing and bashing into each other and huge cheers after every song. If punk music is your thing, you simply cannot ignore Castle Wolfenstein.

BadBadNotGood 12:30 a.m. at Reflections Cabaret

Toronto’s BadBadNotGood were impressed with the Pop Explosion crowd gathered at Reflections for their first show in Halifax. (They play again Thursday at Olympic Hall along with Killer Mike, Weirdo Click and Quake Matthews). The trio consisting of drums, bass and keys provided a fresh take on songs including hip-hop and electronica giants Kanye West, TNGHT and Flying Lotus alongside original compositions. The crowd went bananas (i.e. lots of jumping up and down, crowd surfing and head banging) when BBNG covered Buggin’ by TNGHT. The band gave some love to TNGHT member Lunice who plays Reflections Saturday night. It was incredible to see the crowd completely buy into a show that was completely instrumental.

The Plan 1 a.m. at Michael’s Bar & Grill

The Plan are a band that is in the history books in Halifax. Math-rock took Halifax by storm in the late 90s, and with that came bands such as The Plan who were not only largely influential in Halifax, but influential in the genre of math as a whole. It has been a very long time since The Plan has played (12 years!) and last night they took the stage at Michael’s like they never went away. Simply having the band together again made many people in the crowd’s jaws drop and induce large smiles. The show felt like a high school reunion of sorts, with many people sharing glances with each other as if to say “I can’t believe this is happening right now.” They played an amazingly polished set, hammering out song after song with amazing precision and grace. It was certainly a moment the Halifax music scene won’t forget anytime soon.

Photo: Mixtape Magazine