Finish off the 2019 music festival season with an East Coast trip through Polaris Prize winners and local legends at Halifax Pop Explosion.
As October comes and the leaves start to turn red, it’s easy to think festival season is over and begin refreshing your Twitter feed for any hint of a 2020 lineup leak. But not so fast. In a quiet but creative east coast Canadian town, the last bastion of festival season stands strong: Halifax Pop Explosion is a music festival just waiting for your exploration.
A beautiful mix of past Polaris Prize winners and artists that will be on the short-list in the coming years, the fest’s excitement is as much based on finding hidden gems than crossing off bucket list bands. And they support local too, with a huge chunk of the lineup hailing from the oft-forgotten (but undeniably talented) Atlantic Canada.
Whether you’re a fan of hip-hop, punk, folk, or anything in between, Halifax Pop Explosion has got you covered. And with this guide of the must-sees and the gotta-discovers, Atwood has too.
HALIFAX POP EXPLOSION
OCTOBER 23-26, 2019
:: Big Names ::
Every festival needs it’s big names and HPX is no different, boasting the first ever black woman to win the Polaris Prize — Haviah Mighty — and the indigenous hip-hop duo — Snotty Nose Rez Kids — who challenged her. Both albums push barriers and open-eyes — all while making you dance. The only thing better than these albums are their live shows, with the energy and showpersonship ramped up to eleven.
If something on the rockier side is more your bag, Canadian punk-darlings PUP — hot on the heels of their highly-acclaimed album Morbid Stuff — will be headlining a killer night of punk at the iconic Marquee Ballroom. It’s worth going just to see that venue.
Pop darlings Mother Mother are also bringing their high-glossed production to town, while early 2000s emo legends … And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead will make you dig out the black nail polish and your wallet chain.
Even if you just love festivals for the stars, there’s enough big names and rising talent to keep you satisfied till Coachella.
:: The Gems ::
Over recent years, HPX has done a wonderful job of becoming a finders-fest. Previous festivals have presented us with acts like Cloud Nothings, Charlotte Day-Wilson, Lido Pimienta long before the world met them and this year is no different. Regardless of your taste, there’s a new act just waiting for you to fall in love with them.
Be it the heart-on-sleeve rocking of Diet Cig or the lonely melodies of Japanese Breakfast, there’s enough bleeding hearts on display for even the most reserved to open themselves up.
On the hip-hop front, rising star Hui Li is definitely a set to catch, with her new record Dynasty deservedly earning her a spot supporting Haviah Mighty. BACKXWASH is another must-see hip-hop act, with their NWA-anger and Biggie-flow a beautiful mixture. Catch them before the whole world does.
If dancing is more your thing, DJ NDN — a former member of A Tribe Called Red—will have your back, spinning records after what promises to be an exciting set by indigenous electro-pop artist Wolf Saga. Worse ways to dance away a Friday night right?
If rock’n’roll is more your thing, then Walrus are your guys. The four-piece will be celebrating their new record, Cool to Who with a hometown show supporting Diet Cig and it’s guaranteed to be a banger. One of Canada’s hardest touring bands, catch them on HPX before the rest of the country falls in love.
:: Support Local ::
A good festival should sustain its local music scene and HPX does exactly that. But don’t take this as charity-work; these local East-coast bands may not have national-recognition but they have the talent to. A region that’s produced acts such Mo Kenny, Matt Mays, and *** sure has the talent, just not the infrastructure or the national attention to blow them up. HPX is aiming to change that.
PEI’s shoegaze-pop star-in-the-making Sorrey headlines a local showcase extraordinaire, with indie rockers Calm Barrieta, pop-punk rockers Little Cities and the Shad-esque flows of Vince The Messenger kicking off your Friday in style.
The local legend Kim Harris brings her piano-rock to Hua Li’s Wednesday showcase, appearing alongside Mi’kmaq rapper Wolf Castle. Throw in a little of the soulful hip-hop of Yohvn Blvck and it promises to be an eclectic festival kick-off.
If you want some laid-back rock Halifax boys Beauts can’t be missed, and the city has been abuzz lately with the rise of Juice Girls, who are equal parts bubblegum pop and Courtney Love.
No matter if you’re looking for the next big thing or the local legend, HPX will make sure your last festival of the season will be your best.
For more Halifax Pop Explosion information, go to: halifaxpopexplosion.com
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