Halifax Pop Explosion Halifax, NS — October 3 to 6, 2002

Cat Power A beautiful and devastating mess. Considering her haunting voice alone is enough for an excellent performance, Cat Power, aka Chan Marshall, managed to sabotage her performance at every step by chopping off songs prematurely and pounding out bad chords as if to wreck anything beautiful she may have achieved. CG Chore The tightly woven and slightly hypnotic assault of Chore was greeted by a mixed crowd of vocal supporters and the occasional self-absorbed asshole. In the end, it was the power of Chore's plethora of indie and punk influences that created something new and worthy of praise. IKM The Constantines The Constantines' Halifax debut was dynamic and arresting, a set filled with moody rock that grabbed throats and then let go. Roger Daltrey look-alike Bry Webb played his guitar with the twitchy passion of Bruce Springsteen. CG The Goods The everlasting Halifax-based hip-hop duo of MC Kunga 219 and DJ Gordski are masters of boiled down beats and riveting raw elemental rhymes. Their set was built around Gordski's trusty turntable and Kunga's enlightened delivery. Kunga easily won over the crowd when he morphed "Mediocre Man" into an impromptu a cappella. IKM King Konqueror Halifax's biggest live draw doused a set of ho-hum ska-punk with high-energy hijinks, including a great moment when the lead guitarist coaxed the entire dance floor audience to crouch on its knees during his solo. The band's gorilla mascot raced through the crowd and forced all the cool kids to dance. CG K-Os Much ink has been said spilt regarding K-Os' genre-bending album Exit, but it isn't until you catch him live that you can appreciate the cultural walls he is slowly chipping away at. More of a storyteller than a braggadocio MC, K-OS can turn out tale after tale of urban bohemia without having to hide behind the mask, using only an acoustic guitar and tabla player. IKM Greg MacPherson Expatriate Cape Bretoner and current Winnipeg resident Greg MacPherson's long overdue visit to Halifax left many people wanting more. Supported by the rhythm section from Montreal's Animaltown, the trio played a set that included a moving tale dedicated to his grandfather called "The Company Store," that touched on a real socio-political nerve. IKM Maynards The Halifax trio's afternoon set consisted of snappy punk rock tunes played by two girls and a boy who should allow more sass to bite them in the ass. CG Neuseiland Halifax's experimental rock super group looked as if they were ready to party but it was just too damn late. Lullaby rock shifted between hypnotic Casio-driven leads, wafting guitars and soft voices which, on this particular night, weren't behaving very well. CG Paper Moon Halifax likes its power pop, especially when it's from Winnipeg and sounds like the Chipmunks on speed. Made up of former members of B'ehl and the Bonaduces, Paper Moon gave an incessantly high-energy performance that took the cake when it came to winning over new fans. CG Paradigm Paradigm is a New York MC who should spend more time with his head in his notebook before pleading again and again with an audience to understand what he is trying to say. Cartoonist Al Capp summed up abstract art best by calling it "a product of the untalented sold by the unprincipled to the utterly bewildered." IKM The Plan Black-clad youth turned out in droves to see Halifax's beloved hardcore band back in action for one last time. (The Plan officially played its last show months ago.) The set was loud, sweaty, and intense — even during a brief power outage that silenced the guitars and left singer-bassist Mackenzie Ogilvie filling the void with random thoughts about food. CG Joel Plaskett Joel was clearly at home in the Khyber's lovely Victorian Gothic Turret room. It's where he shot his first video, Thrush Hermit's "French Inhale," and where he met the love of his life. Indeed, the solo acoustic show garnered an air of intimacy, as if he had invited us into his living room and made room for us on the couch. He kept the set rock-free, opting for mellow tunes from In Need of Medical Attention, and cheerily sprinkled anecdotes along the way. CG Rockfour Travelling the farthest and rocking hardest, Tel Aviv's Rockfour can best be summed up as not-so-distant Israeli cousins of the Flashing Lights. Anchored by the amazing Issar Tennenbaum on percussion and the Byrd-like quality of Baruch Ben Yitzhak's guitar playing, these four piece were a highlight of the entire explosive weekend. IKM Rock Ranger Rock Ranger gave a tight performance of Kiss-inspired tunes but lacked the showmanship that usually goes hand in hand with the genre. A pair of female exhibitionists slinking and slivering over the dance floor held the audience's attention instead. CG Martin Tielli A shock to those expecting a solo folkie, the Rheostatic-less Martin Tielli was backed by Operation Infinite Justice, featuring the talents of Ford Pier, Greg Smith and Michael Phillip Wojewoda. It turned out to be the perfect blend of musicians to complement Tielli's playing and unique vocal delivery. The group turned his recent acoustic collection, as well as some covers and new material, into a very exciting new sound. IKM Universal Soul This hip-hop outfit was able to interact with the audience using some tried and true call and response techniques. The well-timed tag team delivery between Voodoo, Fiz and Tacktishion may be construed as an old school tribute, but it's the careful backing of DJ Jorun, a largely influential local spinner, that adequately packs the sound with deep beats and contemporary grooves. IKM Vermicious Knid These Brantford lads put 110 percent into its ragged yet mathematical hardcore set. There were even glimpses of delicate and melodic moments between deliberate and powerful songs. Their name might be derived from a mythical chocolate factory, but the band's multi-layered sound wasn't designed for mass consumption. IKM