HPX Day#3: Thursday Oct 20th 2011 - STAN

@ St. Matthew's United Church
HPX 2011
Dan Mangan
The Crackling - http://www.thecrackling.com/
The Daredevil Christopher Wright
Dan Mangan - http://www.danmanganmusic.com/

I think HPX might secretly work for the Religious Right.
I’ve been to church twice this week. To be fair, I haven’t found Jesus, I’ve just found one of my new favourite venues in Halifax. Even as there is crisis of faith and low attendance at churches of every denomination around the world, you couldn’t have fit another soul, saved or not, into St. Matthews Church last night.

The night opened with the lush, reverberant tones of The Daredevil Christopher Wright. Not so much folk music, as it was a lesson in timing, harmony, and absolute chemistry. Led by brothers Jon and Jason Sunde and backed by the most technically advanced drummer I’ve ever seen live, Jesse Edgington, TDCW took the packed house through an extremely tuneful set. Somewhat reminiscent, vocally at least, to Fleet Foxes, the band never missed a note and played through an extremely demanding array of chords, timings and structures. Their song “The East Coast” was the runaway hit of their set, showcasing crowd interaction, great lyrics, and batshit crazy harmonies. I’ve decided that their musical style would provide the soundtrack to a remake of The Littlest Hobo, but only if the character of the Hobo was played by a well-meaning but somewhat pretentious indie kid from Portland. Oh, and, Halifax? The best place for a WAY out of time hand-clap is, allegedly, a church filled with scene kids on a rainy Thursday night.
The Daredevil Christopher Wright
The Daredevil Christopher Wright

After a somewhat elongated sound check (flight delays) The Crackling took to the hardwood stage. Comprised of everyone from Dan Mangan’s band, with the exception of Dan himself, The Crackling played a short set full of harmony, sing alongs and screamy folk vocals. While the band was quite good and the songs well written, The Crackling seemed only to set the stage for the man himself.
The Crackling
The CracklingThe Crackling

When Dan Mangan took the stage, three of the people I was attending the show with IMMEDIATELY LOST THEIR MINDS. Not only were they at a loss for words, but they were star struck in the way that 14 year old girls used to be over The Beatles. I’m not gonna lie, readers, it was weird. After we got over the initial hysteria of a bearded man from British Columbia taking the stage, St. Matthews was immediately inundated with Mangan & Co’s brand of folk rock; launching into crowd favourites like “Basket,” Mangan had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand, dynamically filling the room of with sound and and then immediately emptying it of anything resembling a decibel. At times, impossible to hear anything but the giganticness of the band, and at others, nothing at all but the pregnant pause of Mangan’s silence. It was aurally devastating in the best kind of way. After a wonderfully long set, Dan made his way onto the church pews to sing an acoustic version of “Robots.” If you didn’t know the words before he started singing, as yours truly did not, you damn well knew them by the end of the song. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Mr. Mangan could have married just about everyone in the crowd after that song ended. There were tears, smiles and overall contentment with what had just happened.
Dan Mangan
Dan ManganDan Mangan

In a somewhat old fashioned way, Dan and his band touched the crowd in a way that is uncommon these days; while there was no big-rock-stadium depletion of energy, those of us in attendance were affected by what had just happened. Was it a religious experience? Maybe, maybe not, but if nothing else it was an emotional rollercoaster that made everyone better for having heard it. I’m going to church again on Saturday, and I’ve never been more excited to sit on uncomfortable wooden benches as I am Right. Now.


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