by Brendan Flaherty, CFCR Production Manager & host of The Buzz (Tuesdays, 5-6pm)

And lo, a festival of art, music, and film descended on an oil-rich city. And it would have a seemingly non-sequitor name – Sled Island -, perhaps to confuse and perplex the uneducated. And it would feature many great musical acts in locations and from locations as varied as the genres of music they played. And though, over the years, the festival faced many challenges, it would prove resilient. And it was good.

-The Book Of Sled, Chapter 1, Verse 7

Calgary is so much bigger than Saskatoon. There is more of everything: more late-night food options, more greaseballs with terrible tattoos, more opportunities to say “this is so much better than the stampede,” more solid opportunities for their mayor to prove he’s amazing, more patios with more beers and more music. Especially during Sled Island.

It can be hard to take advantage of all the bounty that Sled allows, especially if – like me this year – you are a pedestrian for the majority of the festival. But this isn’t a place for me to complain about a lack of planning and my own extreme frugality resulting in a malfunctioning bicycle from a (relatively awesome) bike co-op and in me thus spending more time worrying about how I was going to get around than actually getting around. Sled Island cares not for my petty woes. Especially when my exalted “woah”s were more frequent, more heartfelt, and ultimately more important.

CFCR's Saskatoon Showcase at Tubby Dog: 

Clockwise from top-left: The Avulsions, Acronyms, some dudes gabbin' in front of Tubby Dog, Susan.

Suffice it to say that this year’s festival was very good. With Goodspeed You! Black Emperor guest-curating this year, there was absolutely an artier vibe than I’m used to at Sled. But the quality of performances, and the diversity of performers, was commendable. I still mostly watched rock bands play. Well, that or showed up two minutes after something that had everybody talking (that I missed entirely) had just ended. Sled Island: the only person I can blame is myself.

Michael Feuerstack under the parking lot tent at Local 510.

Renny Wilson at the Legion No. 1.

However – Yo La Tengo! Fantastic (despite mediocre sound at Flames Central, the worst venue of the entire affair). Television! Legendary (though a tad lackluster, especially following an incendiary set from Drive Like Jehu at Olympic Plaza). The Ex! Revelatory. Fu Manchu! I saw them (that’s really the biggest foible of a festival of this scope – sometimes you feel like you’re checking stuff off in lieu of living life). Lightning Bolt! King Tuff! Fountain! Drinking Stiegl in an alley! Don’t judge me.

Drive Like Jehu at Olympic Plaza.

Television at Olympic Plaza.

At one point I made the mistake of spending way too much time on the Sled flickr page and it made me realize just how much stuff I was missing. Sled’s like that. For every mind-blowing band and hall-of-fame performance you witness, there are a bajillion similar experiences that you can’t help but be absent for. And therein lies the rub.

But I can live with that. I saw friggin’ Godspeed in a friggin’ church, man! Not bragging. Kind of, though.