It's just over an hour until the first band hits the stage at the Marquee/Hell's Kitchen, and I'm so damn excited I think my head's going to explode...
I can't believe it has been 10 years since I attended my first Halifax Pop Explosion.
In late September 1995, I crawled into a smoky van with three guys I barely knew and left Calgary for a cross-country tour that would eventually land us in Halifax. The van doesn't exist anymore, the band (Fire Engine Red) doesn't exist anymore, but thank god--the Halifax Pop Explosion is still around.
My love for the Pop Explosion goes back a little before that. In 1994, still stuck in Cowtown but in the midst of a heavy duty love affair with east coast indie rock, I dedicated a Saturday afternoon radio program entirely to bands playing that year's fest.
(For those of you who were there, here's a taste of nostalgia: www.yupislyr.com/sloannet/msg00/msg00360.html )
I didn't get to go every year, but I was always glad to hear it was still kicking around, whether as the HPX or the Halifax On Music festival.
A lot has changed since my first few HPX: no more shows or indie label and zine fairs at the old Wormwoods, no more Cinnamon Toast brunches and plenty of the musicians from back in the day have moved on.
Change is good, though. I'm looking forward to hearing how the workshops go on Saturday, and especially to participating in the indie label and zine fair at St. David's (look for me and my nerd friends selling nerd rock at one of the classier looking tables). It's cool that kids (and not just "kids" as in 18-year-olds, but "kids" as in 12-year-olds) are being welcomed to the festival. Though I'm not personally a fan of them, I'm glad the McGarrigles played, too. It makes me happy to see the organizers broaden the festival's horizons.
The main thing about the Halifax Pop Explosion, of course, is the kickass music. Every year, the same thing happens to me when I read the lineup. I go "who the frig are THESE bands??" and get all mad. Mostly I get mad because I don't know what the hell is cool in music anymore (or, um, "still" 'cause I'm not sure I ever really did). And then a few weeks go by and I start hearing bits and pieces of information on some of the out-of-town groups, and I realize that some of my friends' bands are on the lineups and I realize what an awesome time I'm going to have. Once again.
This year I'm super psyched to see The Hot Springs from Montreal, K'Naan from Toronto by way of SOMALIA (dude is more hardcore than anyone ever), Chad VanGaalen and Chixdiggit from my old hometown of Calgary, Ted Leo, my new roommates for a night Priestess, and the very dreamy sounding A Northern Chorus, whom I keep calling A Northern Voice because I don't know anything about music anymore.
I'm somewhat afraid of and also very thrilled about how insane the Stage Nine show will be on Saturday - Gilbert Switzer *AND* World Provider at the same show?
And I'm looking forward to seeing many of my friends from around town up on stage this weekend. You guys, you do that thing that you do...rock the house or get jiggy with something or whatever it is the kids say these days.
OK, I'll be back, with photos (hopefully...what a stupid week for my computer to bite the dust), throughout the weekend. Until then, I leave you with this thought, from the greatest cut from Aerosmith's classic Done With Mirrors album: My Fist, Your Face.
I mean, Let The Music Do The Talking.