HPX Hits

Written by guest blogger, Jamie Hammond, Festival Manager - Halifax Pop Explosion

For over 27 years, Halifax Pop Explosion, opens a new window Music Festival and Conference has been dedicated to bringing new-to-Halifax acts to our region. From buzz-worthy artists to time-tested bands, HPX presents the best and brightest to Canada’s tour-forgotten East Coast.

HPX has had some once in a lifetime moments over the years. In 2004, Arcade Fire played to a sold out crowd at the Marquee right before “Funeral” dropped and catapulted them into worldwide fame. K’naan played his only-ever Halifax show during the 2005 festival. In 2016, long before his sold out Jazzfest headlining spot, Daniel Caesar performed to a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd at Carleton. These moments, among countless others, are what make the festival special. 

Conference details

Along with the festival, HPX also hosts a world-class music conference. Bringing together industry professionals and artists from around the world, the HPX conference provides unique opportunities for engagement and the creation of meaningful industry connections—offering something for every level of music talent. This year, the conference takes place October 23-25 at Halifax Central Library. Many aspects of this conference are free and open to the public. Learn more and pre-register, opens a new window

Halifax Public Libraries is proud to partner with HPX annually as a space for the conference, a venue for shows, and to help grow the culture of music and musical exploration in our city.

Your fall playlist

Here are 10 artists who we know are going to bring some “you should’ve been there” moments to Halifax this year. 

1. Arkells

Toronto, ON

Rally Cry

October 26 at the Scotiabank Centre

People’s Champ 

But if you look back far enough

And find the place you started

Before you held a grudge

Or the highest office

You do nothing every year

But you're showin' up on the red carpet

Arkells had a big year with their Juno win for both Group and Rock Album of the year. During their acceptance speech, they made space for 2018 Polaris winner Jeremy Dutcher to come up on stage and finish his previously-cut-short speech on Indingenous Rights in Canada. In “People’s Champ,” they’re directly calling out people in power who refuse to make change or space for others. 

2. Japanese Breakfast

Philadelphia, PA

October 24 at the Marquee Ballroom

Road Head 

"Dream on, baby," were his last words to me

"Dream on, baby"

So dreaming baby took that corkscrewed highway

Lightless miles of big rigs

Lightless miles, miles and miles

Japanese Breakfast is on the fast track to becoming a household name. In the last year, her shows have sold out in cities like Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Austin. At a recent show in Toronto, she was moved from Lee’s Palace to the Phoenix after ticket sales were through the roof. This summer alone, she sold out her show at Sled Island and took the stage at Lollapalooza. Her dreamy indie rock, coupled with lyrics drenched in meaning, has earned her fans all around the world. “Road Head” paints a picture of relationships and the journeys (real or metaphorical) they take us on. 

3. PUP 

Toronto, ON

Morbid Stuff

October 25 at the Marquee Ballroom

Sibling Rivalry

I'm not tryna stick it to you

But I've been trying hard getting through to you

I'm not gonna lie, let's face it

You know I won't take it

I'm never gonna take it

PUP’s latest album, Morbid Stuff, was a smash hit with fans when it dropped earlier this year. It caught the eye of the rest of Canada when it was put on the 2019 Polaris Shortlist. Their song “Sibling Rivalry” perfectly encapsulates what it’s like to have a sibling that is always getting you into trouble—but you still love ‘em anyway. 

4. Mother Mother 

Victoria, BC

Dance and Cry

October 26 at the Scotiabank Centre

It’s Alright

I throw a brick right through the window

My life ignored the signals

I'm high and drunk on ego, can't see straight

So I just feel my way around and

I'm touching and I'm grabbing everything I can't be havin'

I am broken down in shame

Mother Mother have been shaping the Canadian indie rock scene since 2005, and influenced the high school experiences of countless millennials. “It’s Alright” explores the confines of mental illness, and the effect it has on people who struggle with it. Although the lyrics seem dark, there’s a gentle understanding that tells the listener it’s all going to be okay. 

5. Diet Cig 

New York, NY

October 26 at the Marquee Ballroom


You never wanted to date a college girl

Well, I hope you got something out of that deal

Or made your parents proud

I bet she's not as loud

Breakups suck, especially when your ex starts dating someone who you could’ve sworn “wasn’t for them.” A pop-punk duo who have spent the spring and summer touring with artists like PUP, Diet Cig’s “Harvard” speaks to heartbreak and comparison — what it’s like when you’re trying to figure out if your ex was lying to you, or lying to themselves. 

6. Kaia Kater 

Montreal, QC

October 25 at St. Matthew’s United Church


Out the window trees bend down to kiss my thigh

I multiply and now the earth divides

You spurn me like a dog but now I double back

Dragging big machines and steady for attack

With a 2018 Juno nomination and her album on the 2019 Polaris Long List, Kaia Kater has had a busy few years. Kater’s poetic lyrics laid overtop of her banjo paint beautiful and imaginative worlds that are rooted in reality.

7. Haviah Mighty 

Toronto, ON 

October 26 at the Seahorse Tavern 


All my guys neck breaking, they know this a bop

On the mic test training, they know this my job

All my ex type hating, they know this a swap

Still on my best behaviour, they know it’s a cop

This year's Polaris Music Prize winner Haviah Mighty has just been catapulted into the Canadian music spotlight. She first caught everyone’s eye as ⅓ of The Sorority, and earlier this year she released her solo album 13th Floor, immediately garnering her tonnes of attention. In “Blame," Haviah talks about her rise to fame with a confidence that has already cemented herself as a legend in the Canadian hip-hop scene. 

8. Walrus 

Halifax, NS

October 26 at the Marquee Ballroom

Cool to Who 

Been so long since I had come down

I never felt that I would let down

Anyone but me

Now its gone only regret now

It feels so cool to let yourself down

At least its just me

Halifax’s Walrus are releasing a highly anticipated album this year, and can’t wait to share it with the world. “Cool to Who” explores who we’re actually letting down (ourselves) when we’re going out of our way to impress. 

9. ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead  

Austin, Texas 

October 24 at the Seahorse Tavern 

Lie Without a Liar

Everything a vision gleams,

In the evening every air,

Like a breath without a tone,

Secrets left in your hands,

Grasping reaching for unknowns,

as these dark misfortunes go,

The lie without a liar,

I believe your argument.

...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead’s impact on the post-punk genre can be heard on most late-90s/early-00s Halifax bands. This legendary act will be performing their album “Madonna” front to back during what’s sure to be one of the most memorable shows of the festival.

10. Elisapie 

Montreal, QC 

October 26 at St. Matthew’s United Church 


You’re a man, you’re a young boy

You’re a father, you’re a grandfather

No, don’t do it  

You’re the protector. 

Another HPX artist on the 2019 Polaris Shortlist, Elisapie’s journey started when she was an infant, given up for adoption on a Northern airport tarmac. She wrote “Arnaq” to pay homage to missing and murdered Indingeous women, and in this verse pleads with men to recognize their role in this ongoing tragedy. 

About Jamie Hammond

Jamie is the Festival Manager for Halifax Pop Explosion Music Festival and Conferenc, opens a new windowe, where she's responsible for leading marketing campaigns, festival operations, and assisting with programming. She's known for her strategic thinking, project management style and her love of pop music. She is also the co-founder of the Atlantic Podcast Summit, and the Production Coordinator for Area 506 Music Festival.
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