October 3rd, 2019 was a night that had long been on the books, since this show was originally announced back in February. Early in 2019, Hollerado dropped a 1-2 punch on fans, as they announced that the fall tour would be their last, and that they were also releasing a new album. It was a move that many chalked up to a ruse initially, only to be further crestfallen when the band confirmed intentions of disbanding at the end of this tour. Menno, Dean, Nixon and Jake assured fans that this was no acrimonious deconstruction, instead they were opting to make way for the next wave of up and coming bands, and were exiting with their friendships intact. This final tour was a celebration of what the band had created over their 12-year run; each show would be their last in that city, and October 3rd marked the band’s last Halifax show.
Over the band’s tenure, Halifax had a role in helping grow the Hollerado fan base due in large part to the team over at the now-defunct Live 105 alt-rock radio station. Sadly, Live 105 underwent a dramatic transformation in recent months, leaving a large alt-rock void in the Halifax radio scene, and thus deprived the band’s fan base a local outlet for Hollerado airplay. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways in which fans of the band could still indulge in their poppy indie-rock tunes, between actually purchasing physical media, to streaming via the multitude of platforms available, or listening to out-of-market radio over the interwebs. It was clear on this evening that there is a strong contingent of Hollerado fans still residing in Halifax, as the Seahorse Tavern was jammed in anticipation of the Ottawa-based band’s final Halifax performance.
Kicking off the night was a fearsome four-piece punk act known as Bad Waitress. They’ve been garnering attention from such luminaries as one George Stroumboulopoulos, who hailed the band as one of the most exciting in recent memory. Now, it’s hard to stand in the Seahorse and not think of local punk rock 4-piece Like a Motorcycle, as there are the obvious similarities, but this Toronto-based band performed admirably, shook the room to its core, and handed out a deafening dose of tinnitus with their searing guitars and funky baselines. While the aggressive rock vibes shook the room, it was when the ladies dialed things back a few notches and lead singer Kali-Ann Butala allowed this bluesy tone to her voice shine though when they truly shone. The raucous, approximately 30 minute set got the crowd fired up and primed for the evening’s headliners.
During the change over, people scrambled to the stage to catch a glimpse of the freshly laid set list. For the most part, it was a set comprised of the band’s greatest hits, with a few deeper cuts to keep things interesting. Then the house lights dropped, and Menno, Dean, Nixon and Jake made their way on stage and got things rolling with “Grief Money”. For the next hour the band ripped through a parade of their most beloved tracks, which included “Juliette”, “Eloise” and “Americanarama”, and they also slipped in a more recent cut from their latest release Retaliation Vacation, entitled “Time on Earth”. It was astounding how every track the band played last Thursday night was a dazzling jam. There wasn’t a song where the crowd wasn’t bouncing and singing along to every word. It was also a set that paid equal homage to Hollerado’s 2010 debut Record In a Bag and their 2017 release Born Yesterday, while also working in tracks from White Paint and their aforementioned recent record.
There were moments where Menno and the boys regaled us with tales from the road, and one particularly revealing moment where, in the hopes of spending some time with their paramedic pal, the guys thought of a brilliant scheme to bring their pal to them. After grabbing some wings one day in Moncton, the fellas opted to proceed with their ill-advised plan of applying some waiver-required hot-sauce to the neither region of their drummer (think Johnny Cash’s ”Ring of Fire”). Needless to say, there were howls of pain, some tears and a hopeful call to 911, which eventually elicited a call from the band’s paramedic pal explaining that this wasn’t the way to get him to hang out on their day off. It was a tale that garnered howls of laughter from the packed Seahorse Tavern. It was one of those special moments where we learned a little too much about the Ottawa band, but added another element to their farewell to Halifax. As Menno explained, this was not a night to be mournful and sad, but instead we were gathered there to celebrate the band, and the fact that they had their moment for 12 years, and were opting to step aside at the top of their career.
Last Thursday was one of those nights where you walk into a room liking a band, but you walk out loving them. It was a magical night, where a band and its fans were on the same page, and all reveled in the collection of pop gems. When it was all said and done, smiles were plastered across many a face; and for one fan, it was an extra special evening as he (Jeremie) was welcomed on stage to play Menno’s well-worn Strat during the band’s closing number “Juliette”. and clearly enjoyed every moment on stage. For this photographer/writer, it felt like I was walking an inch or two off the ground due to the energy in that room, as there aren’t too many shows that leave you energized and invigorated like Hollerado’s final Halifax one did. It was easily one of my favourite shows of 2019. Thanks for the memories, guys!