HPX Day 4: Grand Parade Square with Shad & More

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Zolas (5:00PM)

We started our Friday outdoors at the Grand Parade Square for some free festivities. In the heart of downtown, just a short walk from the waterfront, there was a nip in the air as The Zolas took the stage.

The Zolas may not be the most outwardly dynamic band but their strength lies in the subtleties to their piano-enforced rhythmic grooves that created artistic depth behind Zachary Gray’s (vocals, guitar) pop-based poetically catchy lyrics. On record it works to produce songs that get endlessly stuck in your head, and it appeared to similarly resonant with the audience live. While Gray was adamant that there no reason for Haligonians to know the “small band from Vancouver,” there were definitely more than a few people in attendance familiar with their songs from both 2009’s Tic Toc Tic and their most recent release Ancient Mars, singing along to show their appreciation for the band having made the cross-country trek.

HPX: The Zolas @ Grand Parade, 25-10-13 HPX: The Zolas @ Grand Parade, 25-10-13 HPX: The Zolas @ Grand Parade, 25-10-13 HPX: The Zolas @ Grand Parade, 25-10-13 HPX: The Zolas @ Grand Parade, 25-10-13

We Are Wolves (6:00PM)

The sun began to set as Montreal’s We Are Wolves took the stage, donning black lace garb. Whether they were channeling the spirit of the Mexican “Day of the Dead” in preparation for Halloween or this is just a regular feature to their stage show, it definitely added an element of surprise for those seeing them for the first time. They pulled off the extra layers as their set progressed, with drummer Pierre-Luc Bégin – who didn’t sit down once I might add – ending up shirtless by the time it was all said and done. While the overblown theatrics from frontman Alexander Ortiz (vocals, bass) bordered on gimmicky at times, the band’s synthy, rhythmic pulsating beats and the vibrations from Ortiz’ high-pitched vocal effects breathed hot air into the evening and gave the growing crowd a reason to keep their feet moving.

HPX: We Are Wolves @ Grand Parade, 25-10-13 HPX: We Are Wolves @ Grand Parade, 25-10-13 HPX: We Are Wolves @ Grand Parade, 25-10-13 HPX: We Are Wolves @ Grand Parade, 25-10-13 HPX: We Are Wolves @ Grand Parade, 25-10-13

Hollerado (7:00PM)

Toronto’s Hollerado were announced as the secret guest a few hours prior to the show and fans came out in droves to see them. Drummer Jake Boyd picking up speed to a ricocheting level as set opener “Pick Me Up” carried on, the band proved why they are known for their often dizzying and explosive live performances. With the release of White Paint, they have been getting tighter all the while, adding in more and more choreography to their set – on this occasion including synchronized jumps throughout “Good Day at the Races” and a simultaneous spit from all four band members during an extended instrumental interlude to the positively poppy “Juliette.” Forgoing their typical confetti, the band instead opted to make it snow on this autumn evening, with spurts of foam bringing a touch of winter wonderland to the party atmosphere. Their set ended on a quieter, appreciative note with “I Hate Real (Thank You For Sticking Around)”, running out of the time necessary to turn things back around before they were pulled from the stage.

Shad (8:00PM)

Master wordsmith and MC, rapper Shad headlined the festivities to a now-rammed Square. Whether he was whipping out older favourites like “Compromise”, “Old Prince”, and “Rose Garden”, new songs from Flying Colours, throwing in 90s samples aplenty, or poking fun at that other Canadian rapper (Drake), there was a jovial nature to Shad’s banter as he expressed his desire to be closer to the audience, coming right out to the barrier to break the distance down as much as he could. Backed by dizzying beats, there was a celebratory feel to the deeply personal “Fam Jam (Fe Sum Immigrins)” as Shad described the struggles of life growing up as an immigrant, and time seemed to literally stop during the uplifting “Remember to Remember.”

A true lyricist, Shad’s encore had everyone up in arms with laughter as he left the audience with an acapella version of the lengthy “Epilogue: Long Jawn” that was peppered with such inspirational raps, before having to send us all off into the night. Feeling closer than ever to that supreme sense of inner peace that comes from seeing an incredible show, it was a true highlight of the festival and worth every resulting numb extremity. | CD

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Categories: HPX 2013, Live Music


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