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my pop explosion review (before editing)



This appears in the latest Gazette. The version in the gaz is better, but
this will have to do for now.

I'd appreciate any feedback on this and the photos in the gazette if you have
it. 

mike graham
-----------------------------------

Five Days of Music, Hearing Loss, and Burnout.
by Michael Graham (c) 1994  (haha) 
as NOT printed in the gazette.

I never want to see another loud band again. Ever. I have been living,
breathing, (not) eating, (not) sleeping, and smelling of the Pop Explosion
for 6 days now. The only reason I am able to type this (at 4:30 am) is
because I just sucked back two instant breakfasts in lieu of actual food.
I only wanted to take photos, but now I have to write this stupid "review"
(It's a long story).
What's the point in reviewing this thing? If you like local, loud and
alternativish bands then you would have been there and you already know
what happened. If you don't like these types of bands then skip to the
next article. If you don't like poor journalism then skip to the next
article...who am I kidding?

Wednesday (Brunswick)
Plumtree opened up the Pop Explosion and were greeted by no less than
three video cameras, and a few photographers. Local media covering the
local music scene? Go figure that one out. I can't. Anyway, Plumtree were
great. I love them because they are the most precious band around. They
have fun, they write fun songs and they have charm. There is more to them
than just youthful exhuberance (remember that?). Plumtree can write
excellent songs that stick in your head. Look for a new tape soon.
Rebecca West was next up and it appears that former Bubaiskull guitarist
Allison Outhit has found a niche fronting this new band. Great new tunes.
The band rocked, and Allison rules for not playing until the seated
audience to got off their collective asses.
Al Tuck played a laid back, mellow, bluesy set which seemed to last a bit
too long. Al's stuff is an aquired taste I guess. His tuning breaks were
classic as always though.
jale have been touring (a lot). We're talking UK, Ireland,
Germany...they've been getting around. With this touring comes confidence,
but Jennifer said that they were nervous. Nervous or not, jale played
perhaps their best set ever (I've probably seen them 15 times) and Eve's
acoustic slide on River was great to hear live. It really makes the song.
Every new tune was impressive and proves that jale can have their
Dreamcake and eat it too. I don't know what that means.
Guitar and drum duo, The Spinanes, closed out the night with a few
problems (the guitar sounded "like shit"). There were many tuning breaks,
but the drummer chatted up the audience. Unfortunately he declined my
request for a drum solo. Such is life.

Thursday (Brunswick - all ages)
Strawberry have changed since I saw them last year. They are no longer the
shoe gazing, low budget, would be quasi-new age band. They now have some
"umph!" behind them (namely a good rhythm section).
Merge were good, but I can't remember why. I can't remember a lot of
things. I was taking photos. Someone else should have been taking notes. I
just remember that they were good and better than the last time I saw them.
Blonde Red Head (see below)

Thursday (Brunswick)
Zumpano reminded me a lot of Redd Kross. This is a good thing. Fun
band...nice suits.
Change of Heart ROCKED. Definitely the best punk set I've seen since the
mid 80's when SNFU were good. Change of Heart were so great that I am
going to insist that the word "rocked" be left in all caps. I thought that
punk was dead. I was wrong. And I caught the bassist in the middle of a
Pete Townsend leap. I'll be bragging about that photo until someone decks
me.
Mary Lou Lord sounded a lot like Juliana Hatfield does when she plays
acoustic. She was great. Always asking if she was playing too long. It
takes something special to go onstage by yourself with an acoustic guitar
and make it work. She had that something.
Stereolab played the best set of the festival. I'd listened to their
latest cd and I just didn't get it. Then I saw them and my mini-review to
a friend was "Wow! Wow! Wow!" I don't really know how to deconstruct that
aesthetic response to a band. They were an experience.

Friday (Brunswick - all ages)
The Monoxides are a young band from Moncton who played a set of
hardcore-grunge that I am too old to get into. The kids seemed to like it.
And does anything else matter? The Kiss inspired synchro-guitar posing was
suberb as well.
Hardship Post played a short set and signed to Sub Pop the next day.
At the all ages show, Sunny Day Real Estate played a pretty bland,
dime-a-dozen sound grungy set. At the bar show they turned things up a few
notches and it sounded a little better.

Friday (Brunswick)
Tristan Psionic....now things get hazy. I was taking the photos - please
remember this. Umm...I think that they were funny in between songs. I
would remember them better if I had a negative reaction to them as I did
Blonde Red Head. They thought that they were Sonic Youth, but were
light-years away. The songs were dull and far too long.
Thrush Hermit has their live show nailed. They just came off the road with
Sloan and they rocked.

Saturday (Khyber)
The break up of Bubaiskull has spawned two (arguably) better bands,
Rebecca West and Coyote. The latter played their first gig and it was
good. Chris was on vocals and Tim on bass, so there was some obvious carry
over from their previous band. But, the songs were better than what
Bubaiskull had been pumping out before it's demise.
I thought that The Liz Band was traditional folk. Was I ever
suprised...pleasantly. They were heavy and Liz was wailing on vocals. Too
bad that the crowd seemed contented to sit cross-legged for the entire
set. Apathy rules again.
Pest 5000, from Montreal are a sick, sick band. Well, at least the
guitarist said that he had the flu...oh well...they played a good set and
the violin didn't get on my nerves! The set was good, but too short and I
am still mad that I missed them when they played here during the summer.
grrrrr....
ok...Six Finger Satellite are a menace to society. Lock up your children.
This band is completely over the top. Insane. The lead singer would point
at someone in the crowd and scream "You! Yeah, YOU! RAAAAH RAH RAHHH!!" I
did not feel safe watching this guy teeter on the five foot stage. I did
not feel safe when he jumped off it and climbed over the crowd, kissing
guys and, I am told, mounting another (clothed of course, position
unknown). They had the energy and precence of ten bands.

Saturday (Brunswick - all ages)
I'd heard all the hype about Treble Charger/NC-17 and I was interested in
seeing them. They sucked. Happy grungy-poppy crap. Enough already.
Thrush Hermit played again. I was very tired.
Scarce played a short set to an enthusiastic crowd. More later.

Saturday (Brunswick)
After the all ages show I went to a friend's house for some food. I didn't
actually eat any food. Instead, I collapsed on the floor and was roused
about an hour later. To make a long story short...I missed Local Rabbits.
A lot of people missed this band but I am told that they were great. Oh
well.
Was it just me or did Hardship Post play their most affecting set ever?
Maybe I was just suffering from extreme sleep deprivation, but I thought
that their set was incredible. Especially the slower, more melodic songs.
This is a truly great band.
One heckler in a crowd. I thought that Bruce McCulloch was hilarious with
Bob Wiseman's band, but one goof had to voice his disapproval numerous
times. Bruce's deadpan humour about smoking all his hash in grade 7, and
well - I can't make it funny. You had to be there.
Bob Wiseman played with his band for about an hour. Where's the heckler
when you really need him? His bassist and drummer were groovin' all over
the place, but Wiseman's guitar, keyboards and vocals were hideous. I
thought it would never end. But it did and Scarce played. They played very
well actually. The crowd was pretty wild and the band really appreciated
the response. It went beyond a "We love you [insert town here]!" thing.
For a while they dropped out of the Pop Explosion because they were going
to Europe with Dino Jr. But they decided skip a few dates overseas in
order to play here. How about that? Scarce have so many great songs, but I
don't know their names. They played All Sideways and a song that their
drummer of ONE week had never practiced for an encore. Brilliant. They
will be back and I will be there.

Sunday (Khyber)
After four hours of sleep and two hours in a semi-conscious state I
realized that I had to go to the Gazette to get the cover photo
spec'd/approved/whatever and I also had to develop ten rolls of film. I
was burning out fast. Too much music. Speaking of Much Music...they
covered the Pop Explosion (wow). About the Khyber gig...I could not go.
Please find it in your heart to forgive me. I wasn't even supposed to
review it. I wasn't supposed to review ANY of this!!! Ok??? What I heard
was that Mona was boring grunge, The Suddens were good, and Suckerpunch
were sorta like The Cramps.

Sunday (Brunwick - finale)
Still hadn't caught up on any sleep, so an hour before the gig I decide to
rest a few minutes on the couch. Bad move. I am shaken awake and instantly
realize that I am going to be late. But that's ok, because as long as I
get there before State Champs finishes, I can get my shots and that's
that. It's not like I have to review them or anything. Turns out that I
get there as they are leaving the stage. I've seen them once before and
they were suprisingly great for a band that just came out of the woodwork.
Trike are next and they are better than ever, although I loved their
acoustic set at the Cinnamon Toast barbecue. They are now apparently a
three piece and Melanie has brought her five string, star-spangled bass
out of retirement (she used to play in Cool Blue Halo and Chaz Rules). One
thing which has remained constant is her great voice. She is probably the
most under-rated female singer in Halifax indie rock.
The Superfriendz are next and I am feeling sick. Nevertheless, Matt and
friendz put on a great show. I still feel sick. I am about to see my 27th
band in five days. This is too much, but only 2 more bands to go. Hip Club
Groove & Stinkin' Rich provide a welcome change from geetar rawk. HCG are
just in from a 20 hour drive from Hamilton, but they go off and do their
thang unphazed. Stinkin' Rich raps like the manic maniac he is. HCG are
super-tight with their rap and Corie's freestyle is hilarious. A serious
pit starts to happen. I can't wait to leave. The bands are great, but I am
burnt, sick, tired, and hungry. Eric's Trip come on and there is the
obligitory mosh. The front is crammed and I decide to get my photos from
somewhere more sane. Then I check out with a like minded person who is
sick of live music. Live, loud music. Live, overbearingly loud to the
point of distortion music. Five days of it.

there was an "overall..." paragraph in the gazette. pick it up.