WORDS: Brett Fillmore
PHOTOGRAPHY: Jessica Wittman for Sled Island Photo / Ashley Orzel
Weirdness has descended on Calgary’s downtown core for Sled Island, the city’s multi-venue celebration of music and counterculture. This year’s installment features a segment of the lineup hand selected by guest curator Peaches, whose Saturday night set will most likely set a never-to-be-broken record for largest amount of phallic stage props. What is else there to look forward to, you ask?
Sled Island brings in acts from all over, but there’s always room in the lineup for home cooking. From the warm singer-songwriter wit of Astral Swans to the bass-drenched EDM buzz of Chuurch to the head-nodding anthemic rock of veterans Night Committee, the weekend will bring out the best in Calgary’s native music scene.
Special Edition Beer!
The festival has teamed up with Big Rock to introduce a limited edition session IPA exclusively to Sled Island venues. At $5.50 for a tallboy, you’ll have plenty of coin left in your pocket for that late night pizza run.
Hilarious Band Names!
A great aspect of any festival is discovering great music you weren’t familiar with before. If you’re the kind of person that will show up to a gig based solely on the entertainment value of a band’s name, this festival is for you. Highlights include: An Ant And An Atom, Technical Kidman, WHOOP-Szo, Ultra Gash, shitlord fuckerman, Quaker Parents, Pigeon Breeders, Latex Honey Glove, Junglepussy, Milk Toast, and Untrained Animals.
With over 250 acts on the docket, the venue list is long and includes many of Calgary’s most notable music bars. Most fun are bars with two stages going at once, either in an upstairs/downstairs format (the Legion, Commonwealth, Palomino), or an inside/outside one (Broken City, Local 510). An eclectic mix of the city’s more unique venues are also featured, including Theatre Junction Grand (a restored historical theatre) and Wine-Ohs (an underground wine cellar), as well as makeshift stages at Sloth Records (a vinyl shop) and Tubby Dog (a hot dog fast food joint).
Like stockings hanging above the hearth, the appearance of bike racks all across the downtown core is the harbinger of Sled Island. Since the festival’s venues aren’t all within walking distance and attendees are usually enjoying a libation or two, a two-wheeled steed is the best and liveliest way to experience what Sled Island has to offer. If you aren’t familiar with the city the festival guide includes a map of bike pathways and cycle tracks, or just follow one of the legion of hipster cyclists you’re bound to see cruising the inner city.