It was pouring rain when we pulled up to the club at 10pm, and sadly but not surprisingly, both the upstairs and downstairs were feeling pretty cavernous. Too late to catch the excellent Jesse Dangerously's set--next time, I promise.
EMC was still going through his set when I walked into Hell; I'm glad I got there in time to catch a bit of his new stuff. You might know him as 1/4 of Second Front, or as a DJ Olympics beatboxing champion, or as a regular face at protests and rallies in Halifax. I know him as Eric and I love him to bits. DJ Shinook was backing him up and they went together as nicely as a peanut butter and honey sandwich.
I then split my time pretty evenly between Anonamyss (Hell) and Fax 4 (Marquee), trying to get a feel for what they were doing. Anonamyss was a brave soul, venturing out in the small and shy crowd and addressing them personally throughout his set; Fax 4 got the folks upstairs moving and shaking--one dude was breakdancing. Folks were right up front for the entire set, digging what this crew brought.
I couldn't help but feel a bit worried during these sets when I saw the still mostly empty club--didn't people realize that within a very short time, K'Naan would be here? Was the weather a huge factor? Was there a big draw downtown? This was the first time I didn't see people show up in decent numbers for the opening acts, which was really disappointing. I talked to Waye Mason about it later, and he said "That's the hip-hop crowd for you, they won't come out until later." I know the indie rock crowd can be like that at regular shows, but at HPX there are usually good crowds by 9:30 or 10pm at the rock shows. Wish the same could be said for hip-hop tonight.
By the time Fax 4 wrapped up, there were a few more people throughout the club, both up and down. I headed down to catch Recyclone, also known as Jon Hutt, who was suffering from a wicked flu. Rather than load up on medication, he wrapped himself up in a big flak jacket and barrelled through his set like a man on a mission, infusing it with equal amounts of passion, frustration and dark humour. He closed the set with my longtime favourite, "Pounded Small"; in recent shows, he's started adding a new element by singing a new verse at the end of the song. He thanked the crowd and organizers, then left immediately, too sick for human contact.
I had promised Christopher I would pop by Ginger's to catch his set, and so had to miss out on Universal Soul and Alpha Flight. The rain had let up by the time I made my way downtown again. A good omen for the rest of the evening, I thought.