Sled Island Day 1, part 1:
By Selina Renfrow
213 bands. 4 days. It’s not the most music in that short a short period of time, but Sled Island’s line up is impressive and daunting.
Knowing full well that I couldn’t see everything, I decided to be both choosy and random at the same time. But key to all this was rest and stamina. I was missing those keys.
In preparation I looked up the Calgary bands that were playing Sled Island on MySpace, contacted them and arranged to hang out. I didn’t want to interview them, I just wanted to have fun because really, that’s what Sled is all about. Get drunk, have fun and listen.
First stop was picking up the pass at Comrad Sound. The boxy building on 14th street was supposed to be one of the all-ages venues for Sled but weeks before the festival started the city threatened to shut it down due to having the wrong license. While that whole thing is being sorted out, Comrad Sound founder and local musician Michael Wallace (Friendo, Women) is making a video asking people why they care about Comrad Sound. We’ll have more on that one later.
After a pint and a panini I was off to Central United Church to catch Lorrie Matheson. I ran into Matheson the night before and promised him I’d be there. And while I did intend on going, promise or not, it was a tempting to keep drinking but instead I went to church tipsy. Because really, who hasn’t? Matheson is a guaranteed solid performance and while the set was short and I was late it was nevertheless exactly what I came for. He introduced me to another local musician, Samantha Savage Smith. The lovely alliterated songwriter is playing Folk Festival later this month.
The best way to get around Sled Island, hands down, is by bike. Driving is ridiculous if you plan on hitting up more than one venue. You’d just end up parking somewhere convenient and walking. Walking takes too long and I can’t help but not wear sensible shoes. Not having my bike was quickly becoming a pain. While taking the train from 1st street to 7th street, a drunk douchebag from Edmonton attached himself to me (damn camera grabbed his attention) and it wasn’t until I passed a liquor store was I able to lose him.
The lads from Minstrel Cycle were kind enough to arrange a hang out time before their 10 p.m. show at Arrata and I met up with them to drink beers and smoke cigarettes in the alley. The Calgary quartet formed in January and started playing shows a month later and haven’t quit yet. I can’t tell you what they sound like because I didn’t stay for the show but that’s what their MySpace is for. Adam and Austin were a little worse for wear, having rafted from Cochrane to Calgary, leaving first thing in the morning. Both were burnt and suffering from heat stroke but then that’s what the beers, water and cigarettes were for. Paul debated the merits of tucked in versus untucked and Eric tried to remember the time he took his pants off on stage.
After walking a total of 20 blocks or so already I was really regretting not having a bike for Sled. So I popped by my friend’s house and borrowed hers. The back tire was flat but I didn’t have to time to pump it up before heading to the Hifi for Key To The City. Formerly VAILHALEN, Chris, Brent, Pablo and Joel have the musical chops that deserved a better sized crowd than they had last night. But that’s one of the tough things about Sled Island. With so many good bands to see you just can’t see them all.