Writing & Picturing by Jay Allen (CFCR Program Director and co-host of Pirate Radio, Thursdays 7:30-9pm)

It was actually surprising how many great bands were scheduled in the first couple days of Sled Island 2017. It seems like the festival just keeps growing and growing, with some of the headliners playing on Wednesday & Thursday. Eventually they're just going to have to make the thing a full week long. Lucky for everyone, the second half of this year's Sled Island was just as good as the first.

Friday, June 23, 2017

CFCR Showcase (@ Tubby Dog)
Friday was THE day as far as CFCR was concerned, as it was the day we put on our annual Showcase at Tubby Dog, featuring four bands from right here in Saskatoon. This was the seventh time we organized a showcase, and the sixth time we actually put on the show (the 2013 iteration was cancelled due to flooding). This year, we were pumped to have Ponteix, The Garrys, Man Meat and Shooting Guns playing the event, which was dubbed "Sask Invaders" this year.

The small hot dog restaurant was busy throughout the afternoon showcase (and sometimes totally PACKED), with people coming and going, enjoying music and hot dogs alike. The bands were all amazing, and as usual, I left Tubby Dog with a full belly and a strong sense of pride of what we've got going on musically in this little prairie burg.


The Garrys

Man Meat

Shooting Guns

The hours following the showcase were spent running stuff back to the hotel, and having a little waking nap  in the air-conditioned comfort of the room. I made it out to catch the very end notes of Hamilton shoegaze legends SIANspheric on the rooftop patio at Broken City, but didn't get the camera out in time to get anything good. I wasn't too disappointed by that, since I knew I'd get to see them the next day. I went inside Broken City for a spell, to catch Saskatoon's The Avulsions again, and then caught up with some Saskatoon pals to head over to The Legion for one of my must-see bands of the festival: Meatbodies.

Meatbodies (@ #1 Royal Canadian Legion (Main Floor))
As I walked up to the Legion, my heart sank a bit. The lineup snaked  down the street, and I worried I woudn't get in. I cursed my own name for walking from Broken City with my friends, instead of hopping on my bike and getting there way quicker, but I calmed down once I eventually got through the doors and into the venue, just in time to catch Los Angeles, California's Meatbodies. They played in Saskatoon a couple years ago, opening for Mac DeMarco, and in my mind, blew that little wood sprite off the stage (nothing against Mac, I just really enjoyed Meatbodies). They did not disappoint, and played an awesome set of riffy (but not wanky) rock n' roll. It was a bit strange that it was the first night of the festival where I ended up at The Legion at the end of the night, so I felt a sense of familiarity. I thought of staying to see Shonen Knife, but thinking about that huge lineup outside, I decided to to leave on a good note after the set, picking up Meatbodies' last album Alice from guitarist/singer Chad (fan boy!).  

Saturday, June 24, 2017

SIANspheric (@ Local 510 (Parking Lot))
This time, I got to the venue in lots of time to see SIANspheric. It was kind of strange that both their Sled Island sets were booked at outdoor venues, since they are a very atmospheric, soundscape-y band, but nevertheless, I really enjoyed their set out behind Local 510. They've been around for over 20 years (with various hiastuses), and are definitely a very influential Canadian band (listen to any project with Chris Laramee (Shooting Guns, etc) or Chad Munson (The Moas, etc), and you'll hear what I mean). 

Meatbodies (@ Local 501 (Parking Lot))
What can I say? I had to see Meatbodies again!

Power Buddies (@ The Ship & Anchor)
I hadn't seen Edmonton's Power Buddies (or is it "Power-Buddies?") until recently in Saskatoon at Amigos. I don't know why, but I always thought they were more of an "indie pop" band (maybe it's the "Buddies" part of their name or something), but was happy to find out I was wrong, and ended up really liking their set of keyboard-heavy garage rock/pop. And when I saw they were playing on a bill with Montreal/LA band American Lips, I knew my next destination was The Ship & Anchor. Despite being the WORST-LIT venue at Sled Island (making photography a bit tricky), Power-Buddies put on a really good show. Normally a three-piece band, they were joined by Edmonton pals Archaics, who were sort of their "backing band," so there were like 10 people on stage, so it was like a cult hitting the stage when they all came out with big, homemade tin foil hats on their heads.

American Lips (@ The Ship & Anchor)
This band features former Tricky Woo guitarist Adrien Popvich and Death From Above 1979 drummer Sebastien Grainger. American Lips started with Adrian & Sebastien sending each other music back & forth between Montreal & LA, and apparently they jammed over Skype in preparation for the Sled Island gig, but it all sounded pretty together and cohesive on stage! After the show, I headed down to The Palomino to see Guitar Wolf, but the line for that show was too daunting, so I decided to cut my losses and head to the hotel. I wasn't too bummed out, because having American Lips be the last band I'd see at the festival was pretty great.

All words & photos (c) 2017 Jay Allen.