The summer of festivals
Sled Island, Folk Fest, and X-fest gave Calgarians all they could handle
Calgary showed a lot of resiliency in dealing with the flood this summer, and that attitude spilled over into festival season.
Sled Island was hit the hardest by the flood, as the festival had to cancel halfway through before the main stage at Olympic Plaza had even a single act on it. It was a shame too, as this year’s show was very strong before getting cut.
Colin Stetson played one of the first shows of the week and mesmerized Commonwealth with his unique style of sax music. Having mastered the art of circle breathing, Stetson played a breathtaking set, with the music only stopping when he changed between his contra bass and soprano sax.
Later in the festival, John K. Samson took his show to the Globe Theatre after the Ironwood flooded, and entranced the small crowd who braved the storm and made their way to the new venue. With Samson’s lyrical prowess on display, the show became an eerie escape from the city drowning outside. Unfortunately, that would be all for Sled Island.
Despite Prince’s Island Park taking an incredible beating – and forcing Shakespeare in the Park to relocate here to Mount Royal – the volunteers who help make Calgary Folk Festival what it is stormed the grounds in the weeks leading up to the fest to ensure it would run. Despite losing stages, and with reminders of the disaster all around the park, Folk Fest ran as smoothly as it possibly could have.
Despite the state of Prince’s Island, “tarpies” were still camping out overnight to make sure they got the best spot to catch not only favourite acts, but bands from all over the world as well, something Folk Fest is known for.
This year featured much more dancing, possibly because Calgarians needed a reason to let loose. Acts like the Mexican Institute of Sound, Danish dance-polka group Habadekuk and French electro-swing band Caravan Palace rejuvenated attendees before acts Steve Earle and Alabama Shakes reminded why festivals like this are so important to Calgary.
Not only do they provide the city with a fun escape for a weekend, but they also bring communities together who would ordinarily not run in the same circles.
For a weekend that was in danger of getting canceled, it was the same quality show that Calgary Folk Fest puts on year in and year out.
Rounding out the summer was X-Fest, put on last weekend at Fort Calgary. The event ran without a hitch, and it was almost as if you couldn’t tell there had been a natural disaster only months before.
Saturday had a great mix of bands frequently heard on the radio today – Mother Mother and Capital Cities – and nostalgia-laced acts such as Weezer and Blink 182.
Sunday held bands who are frequently played on X92.9 – the title sponsor of the event – but acts such as City and Colour and Dan Mangan brought out thousands of Calgarians. X-Fest isn’t as well run as other festivals, however. One of the bigger issues was the fact that attendees were not permitted to re-enter Fort Calgary if they left, meaning they were stuck between being there for the day or risk missing acts if they needed to leave.
While Sled Island was definitely hit the hardest – both weather-wise and financially – Calgary still had its fair share of delights this summer — making life a little more normal after the end of June was anything but.