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Halifax Pop Explosion packs "stronger" festival into shorter time frame

Charles Bradley's cancellation will hopefully have "minimal impact," organizers say.

(Clockwise from top left) Basia Bulat, BADBADNOTGOOD, Hey Rosetta!, Keys N Krates.


(Clockwise from top left) Basia Bulat, BADBADNOTGOOD, Hey Rosetta!, Keys N Krates.

There may be fewer stages and a shorter run for the upcoming Halifax Pop Explosion, but organizers say the changes make for a “stronger” festival.

The 24th annual music event kicks off Wednesday and runs until Saturday. With nearly 90 acts, executive director James Boyle said they wanted to make life easier for people.

“We decided to focus on one larger venue instead of splitting between two of them,” Boyle said Monday about the Halifax Forum’s Multi-Purpose Centre being the main stage, and dropping the Olympic Hall.

“You’ll see the MPC will be packed every night and we won’t be sort of stressing out audiences, making them run from venue to venue,” Boyle said.

He also said the decision to start on Wednesday rather than Tuesday, like in past years, came from concert-goers who found the schedule “too long.”

“It’s enabled us to come out stronger at the beginning instead of splitting those shows up over two days,” Boyle said.

There’s always an eclectic mix of music, Boyle said, and headliners like Hey Rosetta!, Keys N Krates, Basia Bulat, and BADBADNOTGOOD are shows not to miss.

Adding in singer-songwriters Hannah Georgas, Alana Yorke and more, there’s “more guitars and less turntables” than in years past, Boyle said, but always something for everyone.

Local acts like pop/rockers Century Egg shouldn’t be missed, Boyle said, and those looking for “cool experimental” music should head to the Art Bar + Projects stage by NSCAD for acts like Heaven For Real and Old and Weird.

Daniel Caesar will also be a highlight, Boyle said, as he sold out his first-ever two shows in Toronto with a “great, soulful voice that’s really making an impact.”

Caesar is playing the mainstage Thursday night with BADBADNOTGOOD - the show originally meant for Charles Bradley before the soul singer’s cancellation two weeks ago due to cancer.

Boyle said obviously the Halifax festival “pales in comparison” to Bradley’s diagnosis, and although losing such a popular headliner obviously doesn’t help the bottom line, ticket sales have remained strong. Boyle added all the shows are getting buzz, and they are hoping by the end of the week Bradley’s cancellation will have had “minimal impact.”

With over 20,000 people expected to come through Halifax for the festival, Boyle said the event is the best way to try new bars or visit old favourites, like The Carleton Music Bar and Grill on Argyle Street.

This may even be the last chance for fans to catch an HPX show at the Carleton, with owner Mike Campbell telling media in September he’s filed for creditor protection and the space could close without a buyer.

Boyle said it’s more important than ever to realize if you want to support music in Halifax “now’s the time.”

Check out for a full lineup, schedule, and ticket information.

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