Do you ever get the feeling that life is just a never-ending treadmill that could care less that you fell from it weeks ago, and that you’re now laying in a crumpled heap of photos and boxes? It’s hard, nay impossible to believe that the East Coast Music Awards were almost 3 weeks ago, and I have yet to weigh in on my favourite moments of that blur of late nights and great tunes. I’m going to try and nail down my three favourite performances during the festival week, and which acts I was absolutely stoked to catch. It’s honestly all been a blur since that week. Between kids, work, shows and boxing up for a move across town, things are a wee bit hectic currently, so my apologies for the delay on our final piece of ECMA coverage. Now that the formalities are out of the way, let’s get into this, shall we?
My Favourite 3 Acts of the Weekend
It was fitting that during the 30th anniversary of East Coast Music Week, a homecoming of sorts would be staged for Sloan. Chris, Jay, Andrew, Pat and Greg are no strangers to Halifax stages in recent years, having played a couple of shows at the Marquee. Before the band’s latest album 12, Sloan was less a band and more a collection of 5 musicians who had formed an uneasy union. On Thursday night’s show at the Marquee, Sloan rekindled the magic that was exhibited for a large portion of their career, and it was the first time in over a decade that the band sounded like an actual cohesive unit, and appeared to be having a fun time on stage. It was a set that brimmed with a handful of Sloan classics, interspersed with cuts from the latest record, and the fun had on stage was being reciprocated by a crowded Marquee Ballroom still completely enamoured with this Halifax rock institution.
Prior to the ECMA, I hadn’t had the pleasure of catching Gabrielle Papillon in person. My only exposure was to her most recent album Keep the Fire, so I was quite excited to catch her ECMA set on the Marquee Ballroom stage. The diminutive Papillon hit the stage and proceeded to cast a spell on the room. At times, Papillon reminded me of Solace/Fumbling Towards Ecstasy Sarah McLachlan, but her ethereal sound was mesmerizing and held the room rapt for her entire set. It was a revelation, as Gabrielle’s sound was every bit as good in person as it was in the studio recording.
It had been a little bit since I last had the chance to catch Jenn Grant, and over the ECMA weekend, I certainly made up for lost time. The ebullient chanteuse dazzled the packed house at the Marquee Ballroom on Friday night, and then hit the Argyle Street stage throughout Saturday’s festivities. I was lucky to catch Jenn a second time when she hit the stage with Neon Dreams in the late afternoon. I was able to share that second set with my 7-year-old daughter, who was equally as enamoured with the Lake Echo native’s sparkling pop vocals, as she was with Grant’s sparkly footwear. Both sets were captivating, but to see Grant shine in the Marquee Ballroom was an otherworldly experience. She is a true gem of the Canadian Music Scene.
Best Act I Discovered During the ECMA Weekend:
I think the Hypochondriacs were my biggest surprise of the festival, as I headed down to the Seahorse Tavern to try and catch Owen Meany’s Batting Stance. My scheduling was a bit off, as I walked into the room about halfway through the rockabilly act’s set, and immediately regretted not being there for their full set. The 5-piece band onstage had something of an unconventional setup, as the band included a saxophonist, guitarist, drummer, bassist and backing vocalist, but the sound being produced was wild and unabated. There was a power and verve to the band’s modern take on Rockabilly which would be right at home as a part of a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack, before it proceeded to knock you on your ass. Even with only seeing half of their set, the Hypochondriacs quickly became one of my favourite acts of the ECMA weekend.