When Dan first approached me about going to Halifax Pop Explosion back in early September, as a born and raised Nova Scotian, I was thrilled to have an opportunity to revisit the city in which I spent my university years. Even the rain seems friendlier on the east coast, and though I shamed myself with an inability to find Pizza Corner right out of the gate, I can’t imagine not being here right now.
We started our Pop experience on Wednesday night and after catching a Halifax rap legend at The Citadel we braved the wet streets and headed for the Seahorse. Right away we ran into a handful of our Toronto friends, musicians and industry folk alike, and settled in to watch some amazing bands.
First up were Hind Legs. Formerly a duo, now a trio, this band really impressed me right from the start. Loud and genuine, Hind Legs had no trouble heating up a rainy east coast night with their catchy garage rock. When the set started the floor was nearly empty, but within the first three songs it started filling up with enthusiastic dancers as the audience got a feel for what this Halifax band had to offer. Hind Legs is a powerhouse with Halloway Jones leading the charge with alternately gritty and beautiful vocals. Dan and I each noted that between the amazing sound mix and the double microphones for Jones, we didn’t miss a note or word of the performance. With stage banter that was quirky and irreverent, Jones introduced one song as a tune about sexy unicorns, they never let our attention wander during a set that everyone agreed was too short, as the crowd cajoled the band into a one song encore.
Following Hind Legs might have been tough for a lesser band, but These Electric Lives were more than up for the challenge. When TEL released their 2007 EP Learn by Doing, bursting with electro-pop anthems, there followed a lot of expectations for them, but a period of inactivity had seemingly killed the momentum of that epic EP. But we shouldn’t have doubted this Toronto quartet, because 2010 proved that they were cooking up something even more amazing with a new EP We See Light… and a first place victory at that year’s Indie Week in Ireland. Last night in Halifax, the crowd was made up of obvious believers. There was no chance of having a conversation on the floor during this set, but why would you want to? With a stage presence that demands attention, this band plays with a frenetic energy that refuses to let you go.
Early in the evening we’d seen our plans upended by a maxed venue capacity and Dan, eager to catch Thee Oh Sees at Reflections Cabaret, wasn’t going to risk being shut out again. This turned out to work in our favor because we arrived at Reflections just in time to see Cousins start their set. Their Halifax Pop bio is The palm at the end of your mind, obscure and a little mischievous and if you’ve seen the band then you know that this is an apt description, and maybe it’s a joke but you feel like you’re in on the fun. A Halifax duo comprised of a drummer and a guitarist, Cousins are armed with enough charisma and energy to feel like you’re watching a five piece band. These east coast rockers were playful and loud and completely infectious and were obviously having a great time on stage, the best kind of performers to watch. The crowd at Reflections was eager to dance and push and yell and Cousins were happy to supply the fuel.