January continued the trend of never having to leave the north end when Hot Wire My Heart, a classy evening of garage music, debuted at Charlie's Club. While it was short-lived, it was also a rousing success. CKDU's Final Fridays began at the Khyber, and was host to varied music styles, for one magical Friday a month. Also shrouded in the foggy mist of January were B.A. Johnston's Barfin' Birthday Benders, two of them to boot. The filming of the "instant classic" DVD This is What 110% Smells Like occurred on those nights, ensuring that Gus's patrons' drunken stumblings are preserved for future generations. The DVD was released in September, with a show at Gus' that featured bands on the DVD, such as Die Brucke and Windom Earle, plus Thesis Sahib and Bloodshot Bill (not on the DVD, but still great additions to the release show), and, of course, B.A. Johnston. In the Dead of Winter warmed hearts with acoustic performances by Jim Bryson, David Myles, Jill Barber, Ndidi Onukwulu, Royal Wood, Bob Wiseman and many more.
February had a veritable clusterfuck of festivals, the East Coast Music Awards and ECUA/No Cases representing mainstream and under-represented music in Halifax, respectively. Let's not forget Ashley MacIsaac's wedding at the ECMAs. I do not know if they had to wear their lanyards or not. There was a bit of sad news to temper the whirlwind of festival schmoozing, as Halifax's music store touchstone, Sam the Record Man, closed down. With it went years of in-stores (Thrush Hermit picture disc, FTW), special orders, cool things on consignment, perky/surly staff members and warm fuzzy feelings. Rich Aucoin released his EP, Personal Publication, by performing its entirety at St. Matthew's Church, in full Grinch regalia (he has since received a cease and desist order from Dr. Seuss's people. Boo.) Some lucky Haligonians escaped the shitty weather and went to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. Among them were Windom Earle and The Grass. February also had one of my favourite shows of the year, a Valentine's Day Khyber show that merged art and music in pretty amazing ways. Film, performance art, Be Bad, Attack Mode, Torso, Husband and Knife and Dog Day (the latter two bands also releasing a split cassette on Divorce), with art from SKUT, StaceyHo, Stephen Cooke, Adam O'Reilly, Eleanor King and Laura Dawe. It was both romantically and culturally satisfying.
March debuted Common Ground Studio's Pop In Sessions, a very professional-looking affair that opened with Brent Randall and his Pinecones (the sessions are also streamed to thecoast.ca). Great Plains and The Superfantastics both released CDs this month, which may have helped to console those who were crying into their (lack of) eggs benedict over the fact that the North End Pub and Diner burned down in March. With it went most of Terratomb's home base, instruments and recordings, which brought Halifax's music community together to help the poor guys out.
April was a loud month, with DOA rolling through town for two shows, with War Pony, The Crimson Tides and Die Brucke, The Divorce Records Obey Convention tearing eardrums asunder thanks to Bastard Noise,
May had a fun little visit from The Bicycles and The Old Soul, who played inside Lost & Found with The Superfantastics (Stephanie D'Entremont played drums in the window! It was really cute!). Choke came to Halifax on their farewell tour, playing with Ghosts of Modern Man, The Motorleague and Memories of Phoenix at The Pavilion. This show also included a barbecue, which should be mandatory at any show in May. RIP Choke.
June had some big-ticket shows in the form of The Evens, playing all by themselves at the North Street Church. It was a surprisingly intimate show, considering they packed that bitch. Floor lamps made from mic stands were inspiring, as were Ian
MacKaye's diatribes on Bush and border control. One of the quietest and most moving punk shows I have ever attended. Dying Fetus had no use for acoustic guitars when they played the Speakeasy with Bloodshoteye, Covenance, Collapse and Amnesty, but we wouldn't have it any other way.
July, as always, had twats all over proclaiming "I am Canadian" and driving everyone else to the peaceful Needham Park for a community picnic with Brent Randall, Matt Reid and others. Hardcore fans rose and fell with the announcement of Lifetime, and their subsequent cancellation, but were quickly consoled with Rise Against, Silverstein, Comeback Kid and 2 Cents for this year's Flip the Switch festival. Probably most notable in July was the whole White Stripes debacle that sent people running around town like fools. I only kid because I was one of those people. While I didn't get into the secret show at Locas Bar, I did bowl two lanes over from Jack White and his entourage. Not shitting you! Blackout 77 released Selling the Puppies and Be Bad released Vision Correction this month, greatly pleasing many. Alexisonfire played at the Civic Centre, pleasing some.
August was a big ticket month for shows, In-Flight Safety kicked it up a notch by playing at Alderney Landing with Museum Pieces; Mount Eerie came all the way from Washington to play at St. Matthew's Church with Tomcat Combat and the Gamma Gamma Rays, Kill Rock Stars' own They Shoot Horses, Don't They moved people with Windom Earle, B.A. Johnston and The Just Barelys at Gus' Pub. Sloan made the trip home to play with The Stance at The Marquee Club, which was nice of them. The White Elephant Cabaret held an action-packed show, as Eyelevel Gallery raised money for the Go North! Festival at the North End Church. The event featured theatre, dance, comedy, spoken word and, of course, music. With performances by Tanya Davis, Dan Ledwell of In-Flight Safety, Don Brownrigg, Metamorphic Theatre and more. There was a lot of noise coming from the corner of Willow and Robie at the end of August as well. A DVD featuring 20 local bands was filmed at 6015 Willow (former home of Gallery Deluxe Gallery and current home of Super Eight Super Theatre), which will be released in May, and you can re-live the sweaty, loud, high-definition times in the comfort of your own home.
September had the distinction of being the month in which the One World Cafe closed. Red and puffy eyes were consequently seen all month at the always popular North By North End Festival; Don Caballero (with Contrived, Special Noise, Tomcat Combat) at St Matthew's United Church; Markit's CD release for Mark My Words (with Boy-ill, Ghettosocks, DJ Jorun, DJ Cosmo, DJ
T-Woo) at Tribeca; and the second North End Community Festival with Trobiz, Jordan Croucher, Brent Randall and his Pinecones, Leslie Carvery and Mo'Netta.
October (I don't like calling it Rocktober) had its usual Halifax Pop Explosion kerfuffle, leading a lot of people into the vise-grip of methamphetamines in order to sustain the energy needed to book it to several venues in a night. I don't have the actual stats on methamphetamine use in October, so don't go asking for it. HPX featured shitloads of bands, among them Old Time Relijun, Zoobombs, Buried Inside and a whopping Eric's Trip reunion. Remember?
November brought Final Fantasy back to town for the second time (this would make a nice annual thing, I think); Chromeo to Halifax for the first time; Wintersleep and Basia Bulat to the Cunard Centre; The Medium Mood released their CD in surround sound at the Marquee and Metal Disco had their one-year anniversary.
December is coming to an end, and it's not that hard to remember what happened in the past four weeks. I will, however, remind you that some of you saw The Hidden Cameras at The Attic, and still others will shed a tear over the really fucking upsetting break-up of Risky Business, another contender for Halifax's busiest and most successful band. Having toured Europe and North America several times, their final show on December 29 is going to be a momentous chapter in Halifax music history.
It's nice looking back to the past, isn't it? Do you think we'll learn from our mistakes? Or are we doomed to repeat them? Any way you slice it, if 2008 has half the balls of 2007, it'll probably be a pretty good year. Did you hear me, 2008? Take that as a challenge.