Who?: CFCR Program Director, Jay Allen
What?: The Sled Island Music & Arts Festival
When?: June 30 — July 3, 2010
Where?: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Why?: The rock music, of course

Now that the basics are out of the way, I’ll start by saying that I now know that I love venue-based festivals. The only other one I had attended was Pop Montreal in the mid-oughts, so I felt like I needed to confirm the awesomeness of these urban festivals as opposed to those that happen in some stinking mud pit in some random field. Enter, Sled Island 2010. With over 200 bands at 25 venues across Calgary's downtown and 17th Avenue, including pubs, clubs, a science centre and a hot dog restaurant, the weekend promised to be a good one.

Day 1: Wednesday, June 30th

After one of the easiest 6-hour drives I’ve ever had, I arrived with my weekend compadres at what I dubbed “Sled Island Central,” the Hyatt hotel in downtown Calgary. This hotel housed many of the bands who would appear at the festival, as well as a good portion of the out-of-town attendees. It was also in very close proximity to the Olympic Plaza (Sled Island’s outdoor mainstage), and several other downtown venues. After a pulled pork poutine (which is exactly as good as it sounds) at the Palamino, it was off to The Legion No. 1 to take in the Wednesday night lineup.

The Legion is a great venue, with a large main floor venue as well as a smaller upstairs room, so there were always bands playing.

First, I checked out Golden Triangle on the main floor. This Brooklyn, NY sextet plays chugging garage rock and features two front-woman singers, whose harmonized vocals gave the whole thing a 60s girl group-via-B52s vibe.

Golden Triangle

After Golden Triangle, it was up the stairs for San Francisco psychster Ty Segall. Ty and the rest of his trio played a great set of lo-fi garage-adelia. I found out later that Ty does a cover of Simply Saucer’s “Bullet Proof Nothing” and “Dropout Boogie” by Captain Beefheart. The kid can pick a cover.

Ty Segall

While Ty was playing his set upstairs, The Almighty Defenders were getting going on the main level. This garage-gospel revival band, made up of King Khan, Mark Sultan (aka BBQ) and The Black Lips was supposed to be one of my highlights of the festival. But in the weeks leading up to Sled Island, The King Khan and BBQ Show broke up in epic fashion. Despite being one of the curators of the festival, King Khan decided not to attend, leaving The Almighty Defenders a very important man short. The show went on, however, complete with white choir-boy robes. But it seemed to lack any real energy at all, which is surprising when you take into account even the band’s remaining members. It’s also possible that it was just past my bedtime. After all, I had to rest up for day two (be sure to check back for words and photos of that...)

The Almighty Defenders

Stay tuned to CFCR.ca for more music musings and rock recounts from Sled Island coming tomorrow!