Halifax Pop Explosion VS Pre-Pop

(Cara Smith/AQ)

The Fredericton Pre-Pop Explosion is “not competition” for Halifax festival goers, said Jonny Stevens, executive director for the Halifax Pop Explosion.

The Halifax Pop Explosion is celebrating its 20-year anniversary this year, and Fredericton Pre-Pop is embarking on year number two.

“People are either going to come to the Pop Explosion or they’re not,” said Stevens, “and I don’t think the Pre-Pop is any kind of deciding factor whether they’re going to stay home in Fredericton or come to the Pop Explosion.”

Brendan Magee handles public relations for the Capital Complex which is hosting Pre-Pop in partnership with Picaroons Traditional Ales. He said the Pre-Pop festival was created out of necessity. It’s an expensive trip for bands to travel to Halifax from central or western Canada, he said.

“We don’t look at ourselves as a competing festival by any means, but more as a symbiotic partner in getting these bands where they need to know, helping them to make the trip, and presenting some excellent entertainment.”

Because of the relationship, Pre-Pop was able to expand their line up to American acts this year. Magee emphasizes how Halifax Pop’s programming effects the Pre-Pop lineup.

The Halifax Pop went with a “decidedly heavier tone and reaching for a broader international talent base,” said Magee, so Pre-Pop followed in its footsteps.

The festival’s name, Pre-Pop, suggests the week of music is a precursor to the main event in Halifax, but the two festivals are running at the same time. This makes it possible for the Capital to pick up bands on their way to, and coming back from, Halifax.

“We got the opportunity to secure a Marquee [Halifax club] headliner in Deer Tick this year. We’re really excited about bringing a band of their stature to Fredericton,” said Magee. “From there, we were able to add some other excellent acts. Highly-touted Seattle export King Tuff, a wicked kitchen party double bill with Tom Fun Orchestra and Les Canailles, rockabilly master Big John Bates and more.”

Headliners at this year’s Halifax Pop include Dan Mangan, Deer Tick and King Tuff, all artists making a stop in Fredericton. Halifax Pop’s Stevens is happy with how the Capital and Picaroons responded to artists travelling through the province.

“I think what Zach [Atkinson, booking agent and manager of the Capital]’s done with the Pre-Pop is great. First of all, it helps us. Bands need to route, they need to drive here, and playing shows on the way is what they do. So it’s a huge help to see Fredericton up its game and it has for years.”

Moncton is picking up artists on their way, and coming back from Halifax as well, such as Wintersleep and Elliott Brood. Stevens said the big headliners at Halifax Pop will be flying into the city and won’t be bands you can catch at the Fredericton Pre-Pop, Moncton or other cities.

“While we’re able to jam a lot into one week of programming, we’re not able to accommodate absolutely every artist who comes knocking,” said Magee. “It’s great to see that others in the community are also helping artists, by set up house shows and gallery shows for them as they make the trip to Halifax Pop Explosion.”

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