The first Halifax Pop Explosion was held in September 1993 and was the brainchild of Halifax music impresario Peter Rowan and legendary Halifax promoter Greg Clark. Greg bowed out after the first year to focus on the Birdland Cabaret, and the festival continued to grow with the assistance of artist manager Angie Fenwick, and later with the help of Shelly McPhail. This internationally acclaimed festival drew accolades in Halifax, Canada and around the world.
Circumstances dictated that the festival be relaunched in 1996 as Halifax On Music. The festival operated for a further four years, improving on the concept, and drawing further national and international interest. The festival became a pivotal event on the east coast and a centerpiece and celebration for the music community in Halifax and the Maritimes. Operated by Angie Fenwick, Cinnamon Toast and Murderecords kingpin Colin MacKenzie, fellow Murderecords employee Marc Brown and No Records founder Waye Mason, the Festival ran successfully for the remainder of the 90’s. However, the volunteer based, no profit, no sleep, unsung glory model put a lot of stress on the principle organizers, and in 2000 no festival was held.
The Halifax Pop Explosion was relaunched in 2001 under the original name by Waye Mason as a not-for-profit Association. While a cast of hundreds supports the presentation of the festival every year, mentions need to be made of the standout support of past volunteers and/or Board members Melissa Buote, Sara Spike, Steve Lutwick, Ben Pearlman, Chris Parsons and Kasia Weiczorek. With much love, the festival was able to re-establish itself as one of Canada’s most important music, digital and cultural events. An East Coast party not to be missed.
1993 – Music writing legend Legs McNeil (*Please Kill Me*) takes the train to Halifax to write about the scene.
1994 – Headliners include Stereolab, Sunny Day Real Estate, The Spinanes and Blonde Redhead. Scene kings Sloan missed the first two Pop Explosions. Hip Club Groove composed the original theme for Street Cents.
1994 – Rich Terfry aka Stinkin’ Rich calls his alterego “the Buck 65th” in the program guide. Forever Again by Eric’s Trip is $9.99, on cassette, at Sam the Record Man.
1995 – Headliners include Elliott Smith, Pansy Division and Hayden. Noshow headliners Brian Jonestown Massacre (‘98) are the (volatile) subjects of the 2004 documentary Dig!
1997 – Richard Davies’ first Canadian performance ever is at Wormwood’s
1998 – Headliners include Will Oldham, Godspeed! You Black Emperor, Low and Kardinal Offishall
2001 – Headliners include Peaches, The Weakerthans, Classified and The Band’s Garth Hudson
2002 – Cat Power headlines the Marquee, pulls a Cat Power
2003 – Headliners include Ron Sexsmith, Les Savy Fav, Death From Above (pre1979) and Broken Social Scene (Feist version)
2004 – Headliners include The Arcade Fire, The Wrens and Choke. Holy Fuck plays the Zine Fair.
2005 – Headliners include Japanther, Hawksley Workman, K’naan and Ted Leo
2006 – Toronto’s Fucked Up headlines Stage Nine and The Pavilion two years before The Chemistry of Common Life blows them up worldwide
2007 – It’s HPX’s 15th anniversary. All but three headliners are Canadian. Two of those are Japanese.
2008 – Jay Reatard headlines The Marquee Club. Tel Aviv’s garagerock juggernaut Monotnoix takes its Gus’ Pub show into Agricola Street. Cops watch but don’t do anything.
2009 – Dan Mangan packs out The Company House hours ahead of time. Japandroids play the Paragon hot on the heels of their debut PostNothing, are sick as dogs and have to cut their set short.
2010 – Sloan plays Twice Removed in its entirety at the Paragon
2011 – Rural Alberta Advantage climbs into the sold out pews of St. Matt’s for a performance of “Good Night”. Occupy Protests on Grand Parade Square make free outdoor concert move indoors.
2012 – 20th Anniversary Celebration sees seminal Halifax bands reunite w/ The Super Friendz, Hip Club Groove, Cool Blue Halo and Stratejakets.
2013 – The comedy program expands with Brian Poshen, Todd Barry and David Heti. The Plan reunites for one headline set and a show with METZ. Despite Action Bronson’s last minute cancellation due to health reasons, Killer Mike takes over Olympic Hall to headline the former double bill on his own.
2014 – Against Me! tore down Olympic Hall. Ghostface Killah and Raekwon gave a monumental performance which included BADBADNOTGOOD. Cold Specks gives us a religious experience at St. Matt's Church.
2015 – Purity Ring enticed our senses on the Main Stage. Jazz Cartier made us believe in the power of everything at Reflections. Everyone (staff included!) crowd surfed to Dillinger Escape Plan at Olympic Hall.
2016 – Everyone falls in love with Daniel Caesar on the main stage, and then deeper in love with an intimate show at The Carleton. Comedy rocks the Halifax Central Library and includes funny folk Kyle Kinane and Aparna Nancherla. Basia Bulat woo's the whole city while closing the fest at The Marquee.
Curious about our entire booking history for the festival?