Thursday 21st, June 2012 / 14:46


Sled Island 2012 started off with a band on Wednesday night. Shows resonated across the city, signaling the start of a weekend to celebrate all things music and independent. Our staff spent all night running around town taking it all in. Below are some of the highlights from Day One of the festival. Check out our gallery too.

C1RCA x Sled Island Poster Show
Sloth Records

The C1RCA x Sled Island Poster Show started on Tuesday night at a lively Sloth Records. With Josh Ruck spinning some fantastic vinyl and the cold beers flowing, crowds grazed through rows of records as the locally produced Sled Island gig posters adorned the walls. With 14 silk-screened posters to choose from, any attendee was sure to find at least one poster that caught their eye and, for a low price of $35, could decorate their homestead. As curator of the show, Ruck pushed this year to allow artists to include three colours of ink in their creations rather than two as has been done in previous years. This added an extra punch of colour to some of the posters, while others stood out vibrantly with a simple black and white design. (Kaely Cormack)

Andrew WK on Partying
Good Life Community Bike Shop

Party enthusiast and Sled Island curator, Andrew WK, took the stage yesterday at the Good Life Community Bike Shop in Kensington. Rather than his regular party antics and crowd-pumping music being blasted from the stage, however, Andrew WK sat with a beer and microphone in hand as members of the audience were invited to ask him any question on which they felt he could offer insight. Questions ranged from the rules of partying, to time travel and even included oddities regarding body odour and money management. Always quick on his feet and full of witty remarks, not a single question was left unanswered and it’s doubtful that anyone left the talk without feeling at least moderately inspired by his positive outlook on life. Life is a party, according to Andrew WK, and we should strive to party in whatever way makes us happy. Rather than pick a favourite party in one’s life, his existential thinking expresses that this exact moment is the best party of your life and you should be enjoying it right now. (Kaely Cormack)

The Weir
Dickens Pub

It was 7:55 p.m. and, already, about 50 people were milling about the entrance to Dickens Pub, chattering excitedly. When the doors opened at 8, the sounds of the Weir’s sound check could already be heard from the backlogged stairs and people were getting tense. Friends were everywhere and the guys jumped off stage and tried to reconcile one member’s sickness with the excitement. After all, this was to be one of the best shows of Sled Island and it was only Wednesday! The only bummer? Everyone had to pick between the Black Wizard/Waster/Falcon/Ancients show at the Ship and Anchor and this. Things could be much, much worse.

The Weir started the evening off precisely on schedule with their growling, howling, yowling post metal hybrid, and immediately got blaowed, sweating out the sickness and kicking out some NeurISIS/Yob jams. The band has impressed the hell out of Calgarians since their inception back in February and this and tonight’s show with Boris at the Commonwealth will be their last for several months until vocalist and guitarist Alex Kurth returns from Brain Fever’s European tour. So don’t miss out tonight! (Sarah Kitteringham)

Indian Handcrafts
Dickens Pub

Following the Weir was Barrie-based Melvins/Hella/indie rock hybrid, Indian Handcrafts, a dynamic duo whose gritty-then-pretty melodies teetered between inducing headbanging and booty shaking. At one point, a buddy of theirs jumped up on stage and sang a song they said was “by someone else,” but by that point it mattered little. Barrie jokes notwithstanding, the band was well placed on the lineup between the Weir and And So I Watch You From Afar. (Sarah Kitteringham)

And So I Watch You From Afar
Dickens Pub

And So I Watch You From Afar caused one hell of a ruckus and was the clear highlight of the evening (and no, I didn’t stay for the secret guests, Boris. Thursday morning work means [less] play for me, who’ll see them Thursday and Friday, anyway). The Belfast band was exuberant on stage and the crowd responded accordingly. Dancing, screaming, fist pumping and shimmying became the status quo, as the members alternated between high kicks, constantly thanking everyone for the warm reception, and performing their absolutely joyous, fast-paced instrumental rock. Eventually, guitarist Rory Friers jumped into the surging crowd and the sweat truly poured from the fans. The band could have concluded the evening and everyone would have gone home happy. (Sarah Kitteringham)

Russian Circles
Dickens Pub

At around 11:30 p.m., Russian Circles were on stage and twiddling knobs during a problematic sound check. During the first several tracks they were visibly frustrated, but remained calm and played through with their surging quiet/loud dynamics-infused instrumental metal. By midnight, the performance seemed an odd follow-up to the Belfast quartet and the crowd’s energy had tapered off considerably. Eventually, the band strongly regained their momentum with some thunderous tracks and then the side of the stage and floor was crammed with musicians and fans in varying forms of movement. As the last booming chords and crashing percussive notes reverberated through the room, Russian Circles had regained us all. Despite the poor beginning, it was a triumphant end. (Sarah Kitteringham)

The Antlers
The Republik

The Republik has seen its fair share of big names for such a seemingly unassuming venue and they usually manage to pack the club to the brim. Last night’s performance by The Antlers was no exception. The club was filled to capacity for the eagerly anticipated show and the quartet delivered a smooth and emotional performance that never crossed the line into gauche. On stage, the quartet deliver even their most straightforward songs, such as the radio-ready, “I Don’t Want Love,” with a fervour and intensity that clearly has nothing to do with stagecraft and everything to do with throwing themselves into their music. It was a beautifully affecting performance and Calgary should count itself lucky to have hosted such an amazingly talented group of musicians. (Christine Waiand)

The venue was just the right amount of packed with enough room to sway your body but still brimming with beautiful energy. The band primarily played songs off Burst Apart, with a few new ones to keep us intrigued and mesmerized. If my memory serves me well (which, c’mon, it never does), the Antlers didn’t play anything off their first record, Hospice, which was rather unfortunate. However, hearing “Putting the Dog to Sleep” live is one of the most incredible experiences one can have.  It was commanding, entrancing and draped our bodies in sonic waves of sentiment. (Caitlyn Browning)

The Evaporators
HiFi Club

Canadian icon Nardwuar the Human Serviette took the stage last night at the HiFi Club with his outlandishly beloved band, The Evaporators. While the crowd wasn’t a huge one, it certainly was an enthusiastic one.  Nardwuar often shared his microphone with the front row keeners, allowing them to sing along to fan favourites, like “Barney Rubble is My Double” and the Tubby Dog-inspired, “Hot Dog High.” Sporting a maple leaf-covered spandex athletic suit and red glitter helmet, Nardwuar encouraged the audience to join together as he crowd surfed across their eager hands, all the while playing a solo on his keyboard which was also being supported by his faithful audience members. Say what you will about the musicianship of The Evaporators, but there’s no denying that Nardwuar has the bewildering ability to put his audience in the palm of his sweaty little hand and command them to do as he wishes — and he wishes for them to be entertained.  Now, let’s just hope he doesn’t ask us to drink the Kool-Aid. (Kaely Cormack)

Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet
#1 Legion (downstairs)

At any late night show at Sled Island, you can expect your fair share of inebriated music fans stumbling around murmuring to themselves things about bike locks and overpriced beers. The Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet show at the Legion last night was packed with just these kinds of people. Drunk on Kokanee and life, the crowd swayed to the familiar tunes of Shadowy Planet with a surprisingly tight rhythm. Although it seemed like half the people at the show were more concerned with squeezing out the last drop of beer from their now-empty bottles than listening to the band that is known for supplying the theme song to ’90s staple, The Kids in the Hall, the show was surprisingly well attended. Oh and Nardwuar the Human Serviette was there!! Live, in-person and acting drunk but intensely likeable, he rocked his short plaid golf pants and yellow beret like nobody’s business. Overall the Legion is one of the best places to end off any Sled night, especially for those of you looking to run into Canadian celebrities. (Christine Waiand)

Performing together for one of only two reunion shows since 1994, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet packed a sweaty #1 Legion for a late slot at 1 a.m. With people showing up hours early to be sure they didn’t miss the show, one of the most highly anticipated performances of Sled Island proved to be everything we had hoped for. The band came on stage and dove straight into their first song with a bout of confidence that echoed the sensibility that this was a band that needed no introduction. After a few songs, everyone tipped their glasses in respect to the late Reid Diamond, founding bass player of the group. Dallas Good of The Sadies made a worthy replacement, though, keeping pace with the high energy rockabilly stylings of guitarist Brian Connelly and drummer Don Pyle.  This instrumental trio kept the crowd grooving and proved that, nearly two decades later, they can still rock with the best of them. (Kaely Cormack)

No Sinner
Commonwealth Bar

I absolutely fell in love with this band last weekend at NXNE, where they played an intense, sweaty, sultry, sexy and riveting 3 a.m. show at the Horseshoe Tavern, following Reigning Sound. Unfortunately, the entire band couldn’t make the trek out for Sled Island, which left singer Colleen Rennison and guitarist Eric Campbell to fend for themselves on stage. Campbell traded his Telecaster for a keyboard and, together, they proceeded to put on one of the best, off-the-cuff, semi-improvised performances I have ever seen. No Sinner traded their boozy, bluesy rock for a jazzier sound without losing anything in translation.

Two things became apparent within moments of the band’s start: Rennison has an absolutely fantastic voice that is well-tempered and expressive, equally at home screeching above a howling rock and roll band as it was last night, sultry and smoky; and No Sinner’s song-writing stands on its own, rather than relying on late-night antics and volume to make their point. Looking around the room, there wasn’t a single soul left unimpressed. Definitely the early sleeper hit of Sled 2012. (Sebastian Buzzalino)

Lou Barlow
Commonwealth Bar

The iconic lo-fi bassist took the stage without preamble or parade, a self-deprecating grin shyly hiding underneath his carefree, mop-top hair. Lou Barlow stood alone with only a classical guitar, kicking things off with a lazy, “strumming, strumming, strumming,” as he plinked out a few chords. As was expected, the set was quiet and low-key, showcasing his own, sad-sack stories rather than any instrumentals. Barlow was in good spirits throughout, sipping whiskey and cracking a few jokes with the audience. He even took the opportunity to play “Rude,” off Dinosaur Jr.’s upcoming album, I Bet on Sky (a title he doesn’t understand, but enjoys nonetheless), which was one of the most well-received songs of the evening. Barlow, who apparently “massaged the right connections” to return to the fest (Dinosaur Jr. played two years ago), riveted rows of die-hard fans who hung onto every one of his words, even above the rest of the bar’s incessant chatter. (Sebastian Buzzalino)

The Zolas

Self-described as a “progressive piano rock band,” the Zolas borrowed We Are The City’s keyboardist and kept the crowd moving with their creative songwriting, gentle breakdowns and funky rhythms. Their charismatic frontman played a cheery toy-like keyboard while a pumping bassist drove it home.  (Caitlin Lepla)

by Team BeatRoute

No Sinner Photo: Sebastian Buzzalino