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Halifax Pop Explosion, a review, Part I



WEDNESDAY, September 22		
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STRAWBERRY
	This quartet from PEI are still working out some kinks
but they have already come up with a rather original sound.  
Their set was less sleepy and more upbeat than when they were 
last seen in Halifax.  But the lead vocals were still as dreamy
and floating as ever.  Deidre Smith's characteristic shy nods
to acknowledge applause never fail to amuse/engage me...

PLUM TREE
	Still surprisingly good for a high school band, but I
can't see any significant progression since their last gig.
Obviously an original talent that should be encouraged, I think.

JALE
	Jenny seemed a bit tired or something, but, overall, 
the band were more confident than I have ever seen them.  They
were not quite as hot as their last gig when they had just come
back off their minitour of central Canada.  There was an 
interesting arrangement of "River" and they closed out their
set with a rocking version of "Emma".

VELOCITY GIRL
	There's no question that these DC natives are near the 
pinnacle of slacker pop.  They tried out a lot of new songs
on the crowd and were met with a warm reception.  There were
4 songs from *Copacetic* in their 14-song set:  the title track,
"Pop Loser", "Audrey's Eyes", and "Crazy Town".  The other
easily recognizable song was "My Forgotten Favorite", which
may have their best. 


THURSDAY September 23
---------------------

QUAHOGS
	The Quahogs do not lack talent or musical energy.  They
do very competent very West Coast hardcore pop.  Unfortunately,
lead singer Scott Tappen seems to have taken most of his physical
cues from Eddie Vedder, and that slouching style does not work
for the type of music that he is singing.  He needs to develop a
more high-energy stage presence before the band can move to another
level.  Not bad.

HARDSHIP POST
	The Herald's Tim Arsenault claims that this gig might have
been their best ever.  He obviously didn't see their last one.
Nonetheless, even though the band was, as lead singer Sebastian 
Lippa mentioned between songs, "out of shape", they still put on
a high-energy performance that showed the band once again to be a
true talent.  Missing from their set were "Tables & Chairs Upsidedown"
and "I Wait For Me".  Their Lenny Kravitz-influenced "Meat Puppets II"
song is turning into one of my favorites.  I can't wait for their
MURDERecords EP *Hack* to be released.

LOU BARLOW
	Lou's head:  Nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live
there.  It seems that every night on stage as he sings about it, Lou
relives the trauma of his breakup with Kathleen (even though they 
got back together).  Kathleen is certainly a beautiful woman, but
sometimes you just want to say "Lou -- get a grip".
	Anyways, between interrupted songs and musical miscues, Lou's
voice was beautiful to listen to.  And the acoustic solo format, while
trading off the creativeness of Sebadoh as a band, tends to foreground
nicely Lou's clever and insightful lyrics.

ERIC'S TRIP
	Sublime.  Straight off their UK tour, E's T are hotter than 
ever.  One of the best three performances of the festival, on a par
with Redd Kross and the Doughboys.
	The band were tight, progressing easily from one song to
another.  Mark, the drummer, is incredible to watch.  The combination
of low back-lighting, Rick's long-haired leaning-over poses, and
Julie's apparent hysteria/mellow tunefulness make for an atmospheric
show.
	When the new album comes out in three weeks make sure to run 
straight for your local record store.


FRIDAY September 24
-------------------

LEONARD CONAN
	Another good performance from this bunch.  Mike McKinnon
has excellent chops on the guitar.  LC cleverly reserved their
two hardest-rocking songs for the end of their set, so they 
segued nicely into the hardest-rocking night of the festival.
	I'd personally like to see another 7" or a new tape from
these guys.  

ONE FREE FALL
	This band seem to think that they are pretty cool.  I think
maybe they're right.  The high point of the show was an incredible
take on Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer", which can be heard at the
end of their new *Mudcreek* album.
	Sandy Graham is a very talented guitarist -- and the whole
band rocks hard and loud.  They show multiple influences, but I
think punk/metal pretty much covers it.  They promised to return,
which is a good thing -- I think they fit in well with the Halifax
scene.

BUBAISKULL
	Completely over the top.  The highest energy level this 
band have ever achieved.  I'm still not sure what to think of
what they did up their.  Intelligibility was sacrificed for
the sake of sheer energy.  Their "mellow" song "The Hum" was
dropped from the set, no doubt for that very reason as well.
	Nonetheless, they proved themselves worthy to be
opening for the Doughboys.  Still waiting for their CD, and I
can't believe they aren't signed to major record label by now.

DOUGHBOYS
	The best performers at the festival, without a doubt.
By the time they came on stage the Deuce was more crowded than
it has ever been.  No one could really move, although the
moshing dance floor crowd were threatening to dislodge the
railing.
	Some guys were surfing on top of the crowd.  One idiot
was trying to knock them down -- between songs John Kastner
pointed right at him and said "Hey, asshole!  Get it together
or I'll throw you out myself!"  Then later in the show he
did a little riding on his back on the crowd himself.
	With the new sound system in the Deuce, the 'boys 
were able to create a really great-sounding set.  There wasn't
a song in the set that people weren't shaking to.
	One key to their sound is that they all have great
voices.  They harmonize well and each take their turn with
lead vocals.  Punk-grunge-pop-whatever, it's *good*.

more later

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
James R. Covey         <JRCOVEY\!/ac.dal.ca>        What syllable are you seeking,
..........................................        Vocalissimus,
Department of English                             In the distances of sleep?
Dalhousie University  Halifax, NS  B3H 3H5        Speak it.