Sled Island Day 2 – Friday, June 24
Day two was the most highly anticipated day at the festival, at least for me. For one, CFCR was putting on a showcase of bands from Saskatoon at Tubby Dog in the mid-to-late afternoon, and I was going to see Kurt Vile for the first time.
The day started early, with CFCR Music Director AVL and I rising at around 8am so that we could make it to the University of Calgary campus in time for a 10:15-ish interview at CJSW 90.9FM. I used to do radio at CJSW when they were in the basement of MacEwan Hall, but like CFCR, they’ve been lifted up out of the dungeon and into an office with windows; a beautiful space with lots of light, lots of studios, and lots and lots of music. We sat in for a quick interview on morning show Up For It. Maybe you heard it…
After the interview, it was time to start making our way to Tubby Dog to set up our showcase, which was an idea we had after last year’s festival. We wanted to bring some Saskatoon bands to the festival to show folks what our city has to offer. Though we would have loved to host more bands, we were excited about having Friends Electric, Foggy Notions, Shooting Guns and Feral Children on the bill.
On top of being an amazing hot dog restaurant, Tubby Dog is also a great little venue. The staff is welcoming and accommodating, and they even fed the bands hot dogs & beer!
Once we got set up, it was time to start the show, which (sort of shockingly) was running right on schedule. First up was Friends Electric, who got the show started with a great set of synthy jangle-pop.
Next up was Foggy Notions, whose members almost all play in Friends Electric as well, making the bands a perfect one-two punch. The Notions put on a really stellar set, playing mostly songs from their brand new release Beginning To See.
After a couple of pop-oriented bands, it was time to switch gears, so Shooting Guns came up next to devastate some ear drums and shake some hot dogs off their buns with their sonic assault. The Guns sludged & droned their way through some of the instrumental rock gems from their debut full-length album, Born To Deal In Magic: 1952-1976, which they had just received on vinyl the week before the festival.
Last up in Sask-travaganza was trippy psych-rock/pop experimenters Feral Children. Each time I see this band, it’s a little different, and a little better. Frontman Ryan Davidson ditched his sampling/looping duties and focused solely on guitar and vocals. This gave him the opportunity to really let his personality (and his dance moves) shine, which made for an extra engaging performance.
The showcase was a big success, with a great turnout and amazing sets by all the bands. Thanks to all those who attended and helped out with the show!
After the showcase, we had to quickly haul all the gear out of Tubby Dog, as they were setting up for another showcase that evening. Once the dust had settled on our showcase (and once I had fed my face with a “Cheetah” hot dog, complete with saurkraut, cheese & mustard), I headed over to the main stage at Olympic Plaza to catch some deep stoner metal jammery by San Jose legends, Sleep. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my camera into the show since I was arriving mid-way through the set.
After Sleep, I re-united with my camera and made the quick walk over to the Palomino, where Quest For Fire was about to take the stage. Having never seen the Toronto psych rock band live before, I was pretty excited for the set. I made my way up to the front, where the band seemed to be having some trouble with the vocal mix, and that showed once they started their set. Singer Chad Ross appeared to be having issues hearing himself, but they still forged ahead, playing a mix of tracks from their self-titled debut and their latest release, Light From Paradise.
I didn’t stay for QFF’s whole set, as I wanted to get over to the Legion in time for Kurt Vile & The Violators’ set, which was at the top of my list of bands to see at the festival. On my way out, I ran into some friends who proposed a quick eye-opener, which ended up taking waaaaaay too long at the bar, so I left a bit later than I would have liked.
Luckily, the Legion is a mere half-block from the Palomino, but much to my chagrin, I approached the building to see a line-up outside, with CFCR Music Director AVL standing there looking a bit anxious. This was the first time I had encountered trouble gaining access to a show at the festival, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. So we stood in the slowly moving lineup, watching people with stamps come and go through the doors. Sled staff and security personnel were outside, telling people that they were ‘over capacity,’ which increased my anxiety levels substantially, but we continued to wait, and eventually we managed to get in.
Despite the ‘sold out’ nature of the show, it was still reasonably easy to move up towards the stage, where I set myself up to shoot some photos.
Vile and his band took the stage to a rousing cheer from the crowd and got their set started, playing a variety of songs, mostly from his latest album Smoke Ring For My Halo. I really liked the band’s performance, but honestly I felt like there was something missing or off about Vile himself. He seemed quite reserved and didn’t want to connect with the crowd; so much so that he didn’t leave his veil of long, brown hair for the entire set. The only time I saw his face was when he was setting up. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need an artist to suck up unnecessarily to a crowd, but it sort of didn’t seem like maybe he wanted to be there. Despite this, I still really enjoyed the set and left for the hotel feeling down right satisfied.
Day two, check. Next up, day three. Raveonettes, Deadhorse, Dandy Warhols, Labcoast, Uncle Badtouch, Sonny & The Sunsets and a special secret show by The Sheepdogs! Stay tuned.
CFCR Program Director
Photos (c) 2011 Jason Allen