Program Director’s Report
Sled Island Festival Day 2
Thursday, July 1, 2010

Canada Day was a busy one in Calgary, but not for the reasons you may think. There were no maple leaves or fireworks in my day this July 1st, but there was a heck of a lot of music for me to take in. After a great Day 1 of Sled Island, I was really excited about Day 2. Let’s get started with this epic day of festivalization...

The day started with my two of my favourite words in the English language: “Free” and “Barbecue.” We arrived at the resurrected Republik night club on 17th Avenue just before 1pm to catch Vancouver’s Makeout Videotape. Much to our delight and surprise, we found a free barbecue with beef and veggie burgers on the outdoor patio. Talk about getting the day started right.

Entranced by my free lunch, I almost forgot why we were there, so it was with partially consumed burger in-hand that I ran into the club as I heard the opening notes of Makeout Videotape. Formerly a duo, this Vancouver three-piece played a short set of indie lo-fi to a sparse but receptive crowd (it was only 1pm, afterall).

Makeout Videotape

After Makeout Videotape’s early set, it was off to Broken City, where Mint Records’ showcase featuring Hot Panda, The Pack AD and Calgary instrumentalist The Ramblin’ Ambassadors had the joint filled to the gills. Literally. It was the only time I was turned away from a show during the whole festival. There were others that sold out (Melvins, Fucked Up’s showcase to name a couple), but I always managed to get there in time.

So, slightly dejected, I walked over to what would become my Sled Island mecca (not to be too dramatic): Tubby Dog. This small hot dog restaurant features great grub and often, great bands. Underground websitists Weird Canada and Texture Magazine, as well as Edmonton campus station CJSR presented some great showcases at Tubby Dog, and I got there on Thursday afternoon just in time to catch a great punk outfit from Lethbridge called Fist City. Fronted by a pair of female singers, this four piece lays down energetic, melodic rock jams with great dual female vocals.

Fist City

After shooting photos of Fist City, I made the heart-sinking realization that I had not only forgotten my battery charger at home in Saskatoon, but had also forgotten my back-up battery. So, with dying battery in-hand, I had to cut out of Tubby’s to find somewhere to get it charged up. This caused me to miss Calgary’s Mount Analogue, but I got back in time to catch one of my favourite local Saskatoon bands, Feral Children, who closed the afternoon showcase presented by Weird (or Wyrd) Canada and Texture Magazine.

For those not wise to the greatness of Feral Children, do yourselves a favour and check them out. CFCR host Ryan Davidson (Hallucinations, Thursdays at 3pm) and his recently assembled band of merry noisemakers sample, loop and jam their way into some truly amazing music.

Feral Children

After the Tubby Dog set, the next stop was to be some hours later and was to be one of the greatest spectacles of the festival. The venue was the Telus Science Centre, in the planetarium to be specific. The band was San Francisco’s Sleepy Sun. It was shaping up to be an epic performance. The only problem was a buzzing speaker in the PA system. The band wasn’t able to crank up the volume, and as a result, coupled with the fact that the seating was akin to a movie theatre, they couldn’t really connect with the crowd as directly as usual. Don’t get me wrong, the show was still amazing, but it seemed like it was lacking a little something. And the visuals were awesome.

Sleepy Sun

Sleepy Sun left me pretty awe-struck, so a little down time was in order. Later that night, we took in The Black Lips at The Legion before calling it a night. The main floor of the legion was packed (as was the norm throughout the festival) and the boys from Atlanta, GA strutted around their usual bratty selves to the crowd’s delight. Maybe I’m easy to impress and maybe it’s just gross, but I like how guitarist Cole Alexander can spit in the air and catch it in his mouth while still playing his guitar part. By this time, I was pretty sick of navigating sweaty crowds with my camera gear, so you'll have to picture this one in your mind's eye.

Stay tuned to for more music musings and rock recounts from Sled Island coming soon!