Now that the dust has settled and we’re not licking our collective ECMA wounds, let’s think back to the fun we had and the vast amount of entertainment we took in over a week in Halifax. Long days, late nights, and enough drinks to drown a fish…we all survived. Here’s a peek at the five takeaway shows from me over ECMA 2018.
This singer-songwriter from PEI has been on my recent listening list for quite some time now. His folk-pop songs are both energetic and catchy, while others are rife with emotion. I had the pleasure of seeing him on his own at The Stubborn Goat for the NS Spirit Co. stage, and then later the same evening kicking off The Marquee’s stage with his full band. His solo set was beautifully curated to the hungover, wearing-sunglasses-inside brunch crowd. He strummed his baritone ukulele and sang beautifully over the sounds of clinking glasses of much-needed recovery Caesars. Later at the Marquee, it was a much different vibe. His full band set brought jams into the mix. Menzie himself varied his performance by jumping on an electric baritone uke, his acoustic one used earlier in the day, and playing much of the set on the keys. For the folk lovers who eat up what Joel Plaskett does, do yourself a favour and get out to see Dylan Menzie.
This 14-year-old phenomenon absolutely blew me away. She kicked off her Marquee set with a slower number behind the keys, but then whipped the small but engaged crowd into a frenzy when joined by her backup dancers for the rest of the set. Her R&B stylings lent themselves well to club hits. Her voice filled the room, and her energy was top tier. Though just a young gun, she had the confidence of a seasoned vet. This is a name that won’t fade into the ether. Keep an ear out for big things from Jody Upshaw!
This is one of my biggest regrets of the weekend. Due to scheduling conflicts, and laziness on my part to not wanting to walk downstairs to the Seahorse, I only caught their last 2 songs. The Hypochondriacs are country music show-stoppers. Their brand of outlaw country, with a tinge of rockabilly, couldn’t have whipped up any more energy in the crowd if they gave out free coke. Front man Josh Bravener is sheer entertainment in a combo package of growling vocals and shredding licks on the guitar. My second regret is not making my way to Sniggily Wiggily’s for their second set. It’s on my must-do list this summer to see them every possible time I can.
If she was to legally change her name, my recommendation is Stephanie Ray Vaughn. There couldn’t have been one fully formed face left in the audience after her amazing set at the Marquee Ballroom, because she would have melted them all. Campbell’s blues stylings are all kinds of perfect. From the lyrics she writes, to the musicianship of her band, to Campbell’s insane guitar playing, it was absolute insanity that the Marquee wasn’t shoulder to shoulder. If you want to have sore jaws the day after a show, get out to see Campbell and her band. There’s no way that jaw won’t be on the floor the entire time.
Another embarrassing one in the books of Mitch, this was my first time seeing Alert the Medic live. On hour 15 of seeing shows on Saturday, sore feet, sore back, bag packed and ready to go after a bananas Like a Motorcycle show, it was decided that I’ll catch the first couple jams of Alert the Medic. Well, well, well, am I ever glad. Their high-energy rock was the perfect icing on the cake for ECMA 2018 weekend for me. They left every ounce of energy on the stage. It was a magical crescendo to the day. Screamy yet melodic vocals, huge guitar solos, and all around Loudness filled the venue with rock perfection. I made the mistake of missing prior gigs, but this isn’t a mistake that will be made again.