Antlers photo (c) Kevin M. Murphy

by Matthew Stefanson

Sled Island Report, Wednesday June 20, Broken City and Beyond

Simple facts are easy to relate to, that’s what my English teacher used to tell me, so that’s what I’m going to deliver.

Fact 1: Chip Tunes can be as innovative and entertaining as any other kind of music.
Calgary’s Greyscreen is a great example of this and when he opened the night at Broken City, it was a spectacle. The lone figure on stage is a personal phobia of mine, especially in electronic music. I have nightmares about being forced to watch a man slowly sway in front of a laptop, pressing buttons at random intervals and then getting paid for it. Greyscreen doesn’t do that. With a mixing board, a gameboy and an admirable amount of stage presence, the moustachioed artist put on a show that more than entertained.

Fact 2: Food is always better when a) sold from a cart and b) free.
While I would never besmirch the fine work that Saskatoon's hot dog carts do, the scale at which food becomes available at Sled Island is staggering. In the right neighbourhood you can't go two blocks without hitting a fried chicken and pizza joint with a taco truck parked outside and an ironically named hot dog cart on the corner. It's a gluttonous heaven of late-night mistakes.

And as an added bonus, if you manage to time your arrival so that you order right after someone who has verbally and/or physically assaulted the vendor, you will probably get free food.

Also, beautiful ladies and the gentlemen accompanying them get free cheddar cheese from the cross-eyed fellow at Sausage Time.

Fact 3: Basketball, the Vancouver world-electro group that was one of this year’s more exciting prospects at the festival – at least for me – has a terrible van.
Their show on Wednesday was cancelled, as was their show the following night, because they were unable to move their jalopy to Calgary. Luckily, not 15 minutes away from Broken City, The Antlers were performing during the very same time slot.
The Antlers play a brand of dreamy rock that is vaguely folkish in recording, but played live they switch it all up. What I had been used to as a slow, melodic musical catalogue became a wall of sound topped by Peter Silberman’s amazing vocals.

Fact 4: Humans who are under some sort of influence are just as capable of performing music as those who are not, if not moreso.
Case in point, the electro dance group Trust. They closed out the night at Broken City and it was the best possible way to end the night. The driving beats, the wailing vocals and frontman Robert Alfons’ boundless energy made up the most amazing experience.

The one failing of the show is that it stuck so closely to the Sled Island schedule. Shows at the festival end exactly when they are supposed to and there are no encores, even if the band is the last one of the night and they just played a 45 minute set for a bunch of adoring fans. Fans who could quit if they just got one more taste of Trust. We could all get clean for good this time, I swear...

If you’re into it, you can listen to my interview with Greyscreen, in which we discuss why loneliness drove him to start making chip tunes, how the genre lets him grow and his history with the festival.