25 facts about Halifax Pop Explosion!


Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, Halifax Pop Explosion (HPX) is hands-down one of my favourite things about this city. There’s something about picking up a schedule (or lately, downloading an app) and comparing your musical must-sees with friends, while deciding where you’ll spend your time.

When those five days in October finally arrive, you can’t beat getting out on crisp autumn nights, grabbing a few drinks, hearing some great music and maybe forgetting that you’ve got to wake up and be a responsible adult in a few hours.

Whether you’re completely new to the festival, or you’re a reasoned regular, here are 25 fun facts you might not know about HPX:

1: The inaugural Halifax Pop Explosion was held in September 1993.
2: HPX was founded to celebrate the city’s strong music scene, which had been dubbed the “New Seattle” by Melody Maker magazine.
3: American singer/songwriter Elliot Smith was a headliner in 1995, a few years in advance of gaining more mainstream recognition from his Oscar nominated song from Good Will Hunting, Miss Misery.
4: In 1996, HPX was re-launched as ‘Halifax on Music.’ It retained this name until 2001 when it went back to its roots, Halifax Pop Explosion.
5: Want to learn more about the start of Halifax Pop Explosion? In 2007, there was a panel with the founders of HPX on why they started the festival. Check out video footage.
HPX used to run ad campaigns on television. This one features the music of a very baby faced Joel Plaskett.
7: The Much Music show ‘Going Coastal’ shot a one-hour documentary at the 2001 edition of HPX, celebrating the re-launch of HPX after a one-year hiatus. Want to relive the glory days? Check it out on YouTube.
8: In 2004, relative unknowns Arcade Fire played at the Marquee Ballroom. In 2017, we all dream about what it would be like to see Arcade Fire at the Marquee Ballroom again.
In 2008, Tel Aviv’s Monotnoix performed at Gus’ Pub and ended up taking the show out onto Agricola Street. Surprisingly the Halifax Police seemed okay with this and let them play on. Check out the photos from Scott Blackburn.
10: It takes over 300 people to put on the festival every year, including paid staff and a large team of volunteers.
11: Speaking of volunteers, Halifax Pop Explosion is such a fan favourite that they have had a volunteer from the Netherlands help out two years in a row!
12: There was no Halifax Pop Explosion (then called Halifax on Music) in 2000. Fortunately it was just a yearlong break!
13: When the festival returned in 2001, it came back with its old name – and a not-for-profit status.
14: In 2010, Halifax music scene fixtures Sloan played their album ‘Twice Removed’ in its entirety to a sold out crowd at the Paragon Theatre (now the Marquee Ballroom).
15: Thanks to HPX, Halifax has its own annual music conference.
At HPX’s 15th anniversary all but three of the headliners were Canadian
17: In 2011, a free concert headlined by Stars had to be moved from Grand Parade to Olympic Hall, as the outside space was hosting Occupy protesters.
18: Due to the reduced capacity at Olympic Hall, some members of Stars briefly serenaded fans outside the venue in the parking lot.
Halifax Pop Explosion has won Event of the Year at the East Coast Music Awards 5 times!
In 2013, the lineup for HPX was announced during a double decker bus ride that took participants around the city.
Wristbands are relatively new for the festival, having just appeared in the past 10 years. They’re a great way to venue hop and get to experience different sounds and sights.
Feeling confident about the lineup? You can grab a Super Early Bird Special bracelet right now for only $59!
Comedy acts were officially introduced into the Halifax Pop Explosion lineup in 2012, with the addition of comedian Eugene Mirman at Reflections.
Since that first year was a success, comedy is becoming an integral part of the HPX programming. Aparna Nancherla, named one of the ‘Top Ten Comics to Watch for in 2016’ by Variety was a headliner in 2016.
For the 20th anniversary of HPX in 2012, seminal Halifax bands The Super Friendz, Hip Club Groove, Cool Blue Halo and Stratejakets reunited. Only time will tell what the organizing committee has up their sleeve for year 25!

What’s your favourite thing about Halifax Pop Explosion? Let us know on Facebook!

Photos by Chr!s Sm!th