HPX Day#5: Saturday Oct 22nd 2011 - STAN

 
The Pavillion & The North Street Church
HPX 2011

Murder by Death
Show Overview & photos by Stan Beland/ Video & Photos by Tiffany Naugler

Damn, Pop Explosion, you busy.

Day 5 of HPX was a battle of wills; how many shows could I get to? (Final tally, 2 full shows.)
How many 14 year olds would I have to mosh with? (Roughly 200.)
How many black eyes would my friend Melanie have? (One.)
Would I eat anything other than breakfast before 2am? (No.)

First off, I went to the Pavillion to watch Chixdiggit and Fucked Up. The four-band bill was fun and featured a little bit of everything for the punk rocker in my soul.

Opening the show was Burdens, a 5 piece hardcore/doom band. Equal parts hardcore speed and epic sludge riff-iness, Burdens did a great job opening up the afternoon. While not every part of every song was great, there were flashes of brilliance in their performance, specifically the long, slow, crushingly heavy riffs that came far too little during the set.
Burdens
Burdens

Next was Envision, a locally based straightedge hardcore band. I’m normally turned off by straightedge preachiness (song titles like Clear Your Head do not appeal to my alcoholic side) but you just can’t argue with the balls-out energy that these guys had on stage. Ninja kicks, hurdling, crowd jumping, these guys were great, with the lead singer absolutely losing his mind at least once per song, bounding 4 or 5 feet into the air, perfectly in time with the music.
Envision
EnvisionEnvision
EnvisionEnvision

Then, an hour of the funniest group of dudes I’ve ever seen play a live show. Ever seen a really skinny dude wearing a kid’s dolphin Halloween costume play bass for a pop punk band? I have. It was awesome. Ever seen a band forget that they’ve played a song already, then remember they already played it, then play it again anyway? I have. It was awesome. The chemistry that the band was able to manufacture with the crowd made for a great performance. I caught myself laughing out loud more than once during the show, reacting not only to the punch lines and shameless self-promotion, but also by the band’s boundless energy. Together for, what, 50 years? Chixxdiggit pretty much have it all down to a science. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Chixxdiggit
Chixxdiggit
ChixxdiggitChixxdiggit
ChixxdiggitChixxdiggit

Surrounded by hundreds of pre-teens, I was starting to worry that I might be attacked, or swarmed by 14 year olds, hungry for pure punk rock pandemonium. Luckily, Damian Abraham Lead singer for Fucked Up, was fucking terrifying, and beat most of them into submission with his pure insanity. Damian managed to wear a shirt for the first two songs, then he was pretty much over it. There are few sights to compare to a half naked man, climbing rafters, screaming into a microphone, but if I had to use one I’d say…albino gorilla with rage issues, let loose in an industrial warehouse? Rampant man-nudity and pre-teen hostility aside, Fucked Up played a great set.
Loud, sweaty, aggressive, and fun. These are all words. And I’d use them to describe Fucked Up, if it wasn’t for the final 2 minutes of the show.
Fucked Up
Fucked UpFucked Up
Fucked UpFucked Up
Fucked UpFucked Up

As some of you may know, the Pavillion has a small, wooden barrier that “separates” the crowd from the stage. Truth is, though, it’s little more that a hockey board off of which kids jump onto the throbbing crowds that grace the venue. During the last song of Fucked Up’s set, a kid sidled up the barrier where Melanie and I were standing, climbed it, and flung himself into the crowd. He was caught, supported even, but he was pushed back immediately. Flailing for grip or purchase of some description, punk-kid kicked Melanie straight in the face, leaving her with a black eye. I felt pretty bad about that.
Fucked Up
Fucked UpFucked Up

That was until I saw Damian walking along the barrier, directly towards us, murder stare activated. I thought to myself “Dear God, we’re about to be killed by this punk rock mountain man.” Turns out though, he was just setting himself up for the final words of the song. He stood directly over top of us, me happily taking pictures, Melanie merely watching this heaving behemoth above us rip through the final chorus of the song Generations. It was about 30 seconds before I realized that Damian was not only sweating onto us, but that the vast majority of his sweat was going directly down Melanie’s shirt. It was, in a word, glorious. Never, ever have I seen someone go from absolute great-time-happy-face, to immediate disgust so quickly. I laughed for ten minutes.

So after the Pavillion show ended, we headed towards the North Street Church. Due to a last minute change, the lineup at this venue changed to include Murder by Death, one of the bands I’d been hoping to see during the festival.
I was, once again, in a church.

Audrey and the Agents kicked of the evening with straight up rock and roll, punctuated by Audrey’s (Chantal Caissie’s alternate personality?) scream-to-growl-to-coo vocal style. They were pretty good and reminded me a little bit of Hole, a little bit of The Ramones, and a little bit of The Distillers. Overall, pretty decent stuff.
Audrey and the Agents
Audrey and the AgentsAudrey and the Agents


Though their set-up took an inordinately long amount of time, Rome Romeo were worth the wait. Half synth beast, half rock and roll beauty, and half Quebecois, Rome Romeo played a fairly eclectic mix of stuff. The five piece ripped through an energetic set of tunes, with tons of high kicks. I don’t know if you know this, but the awesomeness of a set is directly related to how many high kicks a band lets fly. Rome Romeo let fly exactly 7 high kicks, so, you know, pretty solid set.
Rome Romeo - HPX Day#4: Friday Oct 21st 2011 - 04
Rome RomeoRome Romeo
Rome Romeo - HPX Day#4: Friday Oct 21st 2011 - 01Rome Romeo - HPX Day#4: Friday Oct 21st 2011 - 02

All I can say about DUZHEKNEW is that they played a set on Saturday night. It wasn’t my cup of tea. I’m not sure who’s cup of tea it is. Maaaayyyybeeee a sociopathic flautist from Finland? I don’t want to pick on Finnish people but, hahahaha, let’s be honest, those wacky Finns would probably dig the Sax/guitar/drums/random-yelp set up that DUZHEKNEW had going. Carry on, gentlemen, you’re not for me, but I’m sure you’re well understood in certain circles of well-known math geniuses.
DUZHEKNEW
DUZHEKNEWDUZHEKNEW



Finally, mercifully, the band I’d waited all of HPX to see. Murder by Death. Great name, concept albums, amazing lyrics, and a female cellist? Oh, yes please, Indiana, I’ll take all you have of that.

Their set was littered with great songs (Boy Decide, Dynamite Mine, and Comin’ Home to name a few) and the band was pretty much as tight as any I’ve ever seen. MBD’s country sensibilities, mixed with rock guitar and drums makes for a distinctive sound. And did I mention that singer Adam Turla sounds like a modern Johnny Cash, but with MORE venom in his voice? Because he does. And it’s amazing.
Murder by Death
Murder by Death
Murder by Death

All members of the band were foolishly talented. The aforementioned Turla is a great player and singer, Sarah Balliet is crazily, scarily talented and plays the cello with speed that most decent guitar players can’t pull off, Dagan Thogerson should be charged with assault, he hits his drums so hard, and Matt Armstrong’s solid bass lines carried the songs. I’m not sure what the keyboard/trumpt/theremin player’s name is, but he was also amazingly talented. Theremin is so badass, and he had completed control over it. If you’re not sure what a theremin is, look it up to see just how much presence of mind is needed to play it correctly.
Murder by DeathMurder by Death
Murder By Death - HPX Day#4: Friday Oct 21st 2011 - 01Murder by Death

I’m gonna be honest with you, this was easily the best set I saw at this year’s HPX, and probably the best small show I’ve ever seen live. The band played well past when they should have, and as an encore, Turla played a solo version of Bang, Bang, the song made popular by its use in the Kill Bill movie series. It was a perfect end to a night full of songs about drinkers, murderers, grudges, and redemption. Please come back again soon, Murder by Death, we promise to call ahead to the border to make sure you don’t have any problem getting into the country.
Murder By Death - HPX Day#4: Friday Oct 21st 2011 - 03Murder By Death - HPX Day#4: Friday Oct 21st 2011 - 04Murder By Death - HPX Day#4: Friday Oct 21st 2011 - 02



So that’s it! Another year of HPX in the books. I’d like to thank and congratulate the staff and volunteers of the festival for pulling off a, mostly, seamless event, and bringing a ton of world-class talent to Halifax. Y’all did a great job, and I can wait for next year.

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