Thursday, August 13, 2009

I really should have bought that album...

Today, I was at SecondSpin in Saint John, New Brunswick, browsing through their vinyl collection. I found a gem. You may or may not be aware that the first east coast band I fell in love with was Sloan, back even before I'd left elementary school. I think I was in Grade 4 when I got a copy of One Chord To Another, which has mysteriously vanished in the 12 or so years since (sad!).

I remeber when Four Nights at the Palais Royale came out (before I'd seen them live, or, probably, could have even! this was my doorway to the Sloan live show) and I procured a copy of the double album not long after. I was in Grade 6 at this point, and hell, I feel young.

Anyway, as I was going through these records today, I found the vinyl version of that delightful live record. Triple LP, in good condition, and $25. I found myself thinking: I should really buy this. This is a brilliant find. I may never see it again. But I have to pay the telephone bill in a couple of days. And I have to pay the cable bill soon. And I'm due for groceries. And all the yadda yadda yadda of adulthood. Strapped for cash as I am, I declined to make the purchase.

And I'm regretting it.

And tomorrow I'm moving back to Sackville, leaving on the early afternoon bus.

This album may forever be the one that got away. That's the way life goes, I suppose.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

HPX addition + correction.

First, I've become aware that Bruce Peninsula will be playing at this year's Pop Explosion, at the Seahorse. Their album, A Mountain is a Mouth, is really dang good, and I hear fab things about their live show. Given their show is on the Wednesday, I may not be able to see it, but I am going to try my best. I want to see these guys live.

Also, the Final Fantasy tickets aren't available from as I previously said. Rather, they are available from the Dalhouse Art Centre website, here. Sorry for the confusion.

Set up to disguise their meaning, but still light up the room.

The Sackville Music Hall was built in 1914-15, after a fire destroyed the original Victorian structure a couple of years prior. It was given the name of the Imperial Theatre, a name that stuck until 2004, when it was changed to differentiate from the theatre of the same name in Saint John.

The Music Hall sits hidden away on the upper level of Bridge Street, between apartments and above various shops. The entrance is unmarked, aside from a bulletin board and a bright yellow door, and even some people who have lived in Sackville all their lives, people I spoke with, had no idea this beautiful place exists.

The ceiling is falling in and the paint is peeling, and half of the entryway staircase is blocked off because it is broken and unstable, but every now and then there will be a concert, or an artistic presentation of some sort in there. In recent memory it has showcased concerts by Jenn Grant, Shotgun Jimmie, and the CFL Sessions, all in that beautiful musty space, the side door looking out over Main Street and pouring the music out across the town.

The latest installment of these shows was, on the 24th of July, just before the OK.Quoi?! arts festival kicked off, The Got to Get Got, one of my favourite bands from around these parts. I know I've raved about them on my blog before, but let me just get a little bit more out. The Got to Get Got, at one show I saw, were jokingly described as "Making the Band with Mark Mullane". Mark, formerly of North of America, is mostly responsible for bringing these people together, some from other established bands (The Just Barelys, Tomcat Combat, etc) and other folks to flesh it out. The sound, altogether, is beautiful. Mark and Eleanor King trade off vocals, and the instrumentation... holy mackerel. It is such a beautiful experience.

In any case! The show on the 24th was half concert and half practice session. Paul Henderson, formerly drummer for Shotgun & Jaybird and one of the chief Sappyfest organisers, was skateboarding around the floor of the music hall (wooden and chairless), while things were set up, and we sat on the floor. Cookies were shared, and the band began to play.

For a practice, and not having played together as a full band for a number of weeks, the band sounded phenomenal. At times it felt as though they would bring down more of the ceiling with the guitars, but these were balanced out, as always, by the downright beautiful string arrangements and remainder of the instrumentation. With "Peyton & Perry", I think, you get the best of both worlds, both live and on the record, with both Mark and Eleanor trading off on a gentle, strings-and-keys based half of the song, before the full band opens up about halfway through, making it impossible not to smile and sing along.

A highlight of the live show, though, is "Rare Rain" and, with the skies opened up just outside the door, fitting. The drumline to the song is fleshed out, Eleanor taking one of the toms from the kit and pounding out that main line. The energy level is so high, they all look like they're having such a wonderful time, and that rubs off on the crowd. There is a pair dancing around the music hall, from one end to the other, having the time of their lives. Everyone was, really. It was such a beautiful moment in concert-going. The perfect band for the perfect space and the perfect crowd. Oh, Sackville!


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More HPX news!

The news broke a little while ago that more bands had been confirmed for the Halifax Pop Explosion, and I can break the news of another one that hasn't been officially released. In addition to the bands already announced (just hit the 'halifax pop explosion' button at the bottom of this post to see who they are), the following are going to be present:

By Divine Right, who have been around forever but I don't think I've ever given a fair chance to. I guess now is my opportunity.
Cadence Weapon, recently endorsed by the Governor-General in what can only be described as a WTF moment.
D-Sisive, whose latest album was one of the most hyped hip-hop albums in the country, and rightly so. Check out the myspace.
Jenn Grant, whom I adore, and who puts on a dreamy, intimate show. A jewel of the east coast.
Mates of State, a husband-and-wife duo from Kansas who I'm sure you've heard of, and I'm mighty excited for.
Two Hours Traffic, probably the biggest act to ever come out of Prince Edward Island, and Joel Plaskett's protégés.
You Say Party, We Say Die, Paper Bag dance-punks extraordinaire.

and I haven't seen this in any official announcements, but the band says that Olenka and the Autumn Lovers, who put out one of my favourite albums of 2008 and put on a magical live show, have been accepted to the bill. This excites me. This really excites me. Ms Krakus and her band fuse eastern european folk music with indie rock sensibilities and put on a show that you simply cannot miss. I mean it. Don't miss it.

Finally, MSTRKRFT, in a show to which I already have my ticket. Jesse F. Keeler, one half of DFA1979, brings the dance ruckus. The new album is one of the best electronic/hip-hop records I've heard in a while. One of my highlights. Definitely. A part of me, too, is thinking, if Sebastien Grainger played at last year's HPX, and Jesse Keeler plays at this year's, why can't we, you know, sneak them on to the same stage? Pretty please? I missed my chance to see DFA back in 2004, I wouldn't ever miss that again.

More HPX news as it becomes available. Tickets for the Final Fantasy (with Symphony Nova Scotia) show and the MSTRKRFT show, as well as early-bird festival passes, are now available from

PEI must be abuzz.

I heard it through the grapevine that both New Royalty and Boxer the Horse are working on new discs. No hint of a release date, but they both are working on things. Both of these bands are from Prince Edward Island, both put on a wonderful live show, and I'm looking forward to hearing the new material.

In other news, I have oh-so-much to catch up on. The Got To Get Got playing in a crumbling old Edwardian music hall where bits of the ceiling had fallen to the ground. Day Two of SaltyJam, way back in mid-July. SAPPYFEST, that epic three-day drunk filled with the best music the country has to offer. But I also have other projects on the go, and a permanent move to Sackville on the horizon, so things are being prepared.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Playing catch-up.

Sappyfest is coming right up, in just over a week. Also, I'm moving back to Sackville tomorrow, and seeing The Got to Get Got play again the day after that.

Also, I know I'm behind on that SaltyJam day two post. I'll get on that on the weekend. I have it mostly drafted, I just haven't finished it. I'm sorry! I'll give you the lineup here, though, of the bands I saw:

The Tom Fun Orchestra at the Boardwalk Stage

The Envy
16th Avenue
Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees
Tokyo Police Club
at the Water Street Tent

The Shinjuku Mad
Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees
at a-khord.

So! I'll get on all of that, yeah? Sorry for this!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

SaltyJam! Day One

I have to say, I was a little disappointed by the first day of SaltyJam (Friday the 10th!). I didn't catch much of Gisto, the first act, but what I heard... enh. I mean, I like reggae as much as the next white electro fan (probably a bit more), but he bored me.

Bomba though, they were interesting. A rhythm-based latin collective of some kind, from all across Latin America, from Mexico to Cuba to Peru to Chile and more, I'm sure. It was a really interesting combination of sounds--there was a violin added to the mix of percussive instruments and keys, and it was just altogether interesting and rather enjoyable!

Third up, and it still confuses me as to why they weren't the headlining act, was Montreal's Plants and Animals. They put on one hell of a show--though not as good as the one in Sackville back in January. This one was still fab, though, in the midst of a great blue-and-white striped tent, with the local beer flowing free and a guy who looked like Zach Galifianakis dancing along with a baby strapped to his chest. They brought the energy and the crowd--albeit a small one, regrettably--loved every minute of it. There were enough singing along to make it worthwhile for all involved, and I had a good time! I did miss the autoharp on "Bye Bye Bye", however. What gives? Where's the autoharp?

Toronto's The House of David Gang closed the show, and again I'm not entirely certain as to why they were the headliner. A reggae outfit, they sounded better than the first one but still left a little something wanting. I don't know what it is, but I just couldn't get into a reggae show on a slightly chilly Maritime night, by the harbour. Just the way I was wired I guess.

Afterwards, a couple of friends and I headed over to the a khord to take in the late night show. We managed to catch most of the Wooden Wives (which includes on guitar Sappyfest performer Adam Mowery) before they decided it was time to go. My ride being one of them, I left too, and missed Hospital Grade--regrettably. Wooden Wives though put on their usual fab rock'n'roll show, and, maybe because of the nature of the earlier show, but the floor in front of the stage was absolutely awash with people dancing free and fun--it was a sight that really made me smile.

Tomorrow I'll do a bit of a writeup on tonight's concerts--concerts which blew me away, absolutely and completely. Stay tuned!