Thursday, October 21st, 2010
Halifax Pop Explosion 2010 Day One
Ty Segall, Styrofoam Ones and The Modern Men at Halifax Pop Explosion
Frank YangOne of the perks of being my own boss, as it were, is that no one can tell me what I have to cover when I’m out and about, particularly at a festival like Halifax Pop Explosion. And since I’ve already had and taken the opportunity to see many of the big names playing the festival, I went into this week with the mandate of seeing stuff I hadn’t seen before, be it on recommendations from others, positive MySpace first impressions or just because it’s located nearby and I’m lazy.
The Wednesday night festival programme was bit lighter than the rest of the week, basically offering one show per genre of interest. There was the pop show, the metal show, the electro-dance show, the punk show, the GWAR show. Having seen The New Pornographers not three weeks ago, I skipped the pop-friendly bill at The Forum and headed to the Paragon Theatre – conveniently located around the corner from the hotel – for some synth-driven action, kicked off by Halifax’s The Modern Men. Their online samples implied an ’80s-indebted New Wave/New Romantic-ish outfit, and that’s pretty much what was delivered, though more organic and meaty-sounding than expected. Propelled by two drummers with nary an electronic kit or laptop in sight, they had songs that weren’t especially deep – like their influences – but heavy on hooks and groove. The quality of the tunes made up for the general lack of stage presence and mood-killing stage banter – there’s really no need to introduce each song with the title and the style it’s in.
Photos: The Modern Men @ The Paragon Theatre – October 20, 2010
MySpace: The Modern Men
I’d intended to see the next act, Styrofoam Ones, a number of times back in Toronto but apparently we both had to travel to the east coast for that to happen. And interestingly, their set was the inverse of Modern Men’s, in both the positive and negative sense. Delayed by some technical issues, when the trio finally got underway they seemed a bit out of sorts, audibly out of time with one another and when your MO is tightness, that’s a problem. This, however, was offset to a degree by the fact that they didn’t seem to notice or care and kept playing with enough on-stage attitude and swagger that you almost believed that this was how they meant to sound. Within a few songs they did get it together, though, and from then on their showmanship was working with and not in spite of their tunes – good-time synth-rock that favoured vintage combo organ sounds rather than ’80s square waves and reliant more on punkish energy than sophistication.
Photos: Styrofoam Ones @ The Paragon Theatre – October 20, 2010
MP3: Styrofoam Ones – “Blue Lines”
Video: Styrofoam Ones – “Blue Lines”
MySpace: Styrofoam Ones
I had been advised to check out San Francisco’s Ty Segall – whom I’d never heard a note of – on the basis that his shows in Toronto not long ago were “intense”. After being in the front line (or kill zone) of his show at the Seahorse Tavern last night, I’d say that yeah, that’s pretty accurate. And it’s not because his stuff – garage rock with a goodly amount of pop melodicism injected – is especially aggressive or even his performance. It’s because his fans – jammed into the small underground space – were intent on creating bedlam and he was perfectly happy to soundtrack it, and woe to anyone who was so unfortunate as to be up front innocently trying to take some pictures. But besides being kicked in the head by a crowdsurfer and mashed into the stage ad nauseum, it wasn’t really that bad – I’ve been in worse – and for the most part it was just people having fun. Amidst material that I presume was from his latest record Melted, we got a cover of Sabbath’s “Paranoid” and the kids going nuts somehow managed to find another gear. Fun times, nothing broken, night one finis.
Photos: Ty Segall @ The Seahorse Tavern – October 20, 2010
MP3: Ty Segall – “It #1”
Video: Ty Segall – “Finger”
Video: Ty Segall – “Lovely One”
Video: Ty Segall – “Cents”
Spinner has a profile on the Halifax Pop Explosion.
Crystal Castles have a date at the Sound Academy on April 2.
Video: Crystal Castles – “Baptism”
The National have released a video for the version of “Terrible Love” that appears on the deluxe edition of High Violet which is coming November 22.
Laura Marling tells NME that she no longer intends to release a second album in 2010 but will instead finish off new material early next year and release that instead. Which is fine, but one hopes that at least some of the material that was recorded alongside I Speak Because I Can will eventually see the light of day in some form.