Yes, there’s some great talent coming into town for Sled Island – internationally renowned acts like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, De La Soul, and Body/Head. You probably have a list of your own of must-see bands. And for every act you know and love, there are ten groups coming in that will blow your socks off, if you happen to wander in during their show.
But don’t forget (we certainly don’t – it’s our mandate!) about all the great Calgary talent that’s popping up around town next week – bands that don’t just fill out the roster of awesome music, they provide a lion’s share of what makes this festival really unique.
If you want to see maximum Calgary talent in one take, try Commonwealth on Tuesday, Bamboo or Dicken’s on Wednesday, the East Village Riverwalk on Thursday, Palomino on Friday, Olympic Plaza on Saturday and Central Memorial Park on Sunday.
Are you ready for this? (This, being a ton of different ways of saying X band and Y location on Z date) Here’s the high-level, shallow review version of a breakdown of all of the Calgary bands playing Sled Island, in alphabetical order:
Indie fun-poppers 36? are playing two sets on the weekend, one at the Ship and one at Central Memorial Park.
A.Y.E. & The Extraordinary Gentlemen represent in the 403 on Thursday night up in the Commonwealth with some old-school rap.
The smooth soul stylings of Aleem Khan will be on the Broken City patio early on Saturday evening.
Wednesday night at the Legion, that noise you hear coming from up the stairs is probably Ashley Soft, taking apart the description of ‘post-punk’ and building something new.
This isn’t the Astral Swans first performance, but if you’ve somehow lived in Calgary without seeing them, you have three opportunities – Wednesday night in the Local parking lot, Thursday at the Ship, and upstairs at the Palomino on Friday.
The Basement Demons might sound like a young, punk homage to last year’s curator, Kathleen Hanna, but Friday night at Tubby Dog, they can show you that they’re no mere copy.
Wanna hear that “booty wave” is all about? Check out Beach Season Friday at the Palomino, or Saturday at the Hifi Club.
If you’re more into improv guitar instrumentals, Bitter Fictions will be playing downstairs at the Legion on Saturday night.
Also on Saturday night, The Blue will be rapping at the National Music Centre.
Formerly known as Little Seizures, the indie-ish Blu Shorts will liven up both Bamboo (Wednesday night) and the upper floor of the Legion (Friday, real late).
For something completely different, check out the crazy noise of Bog Bodies, Wednesday night at the Nite Owl, and late Thursday at the Palomino.
Brushsigns will be helping to launch the festival, putting their peaceful indie-pop first on Tuesday night at the Commonwealth.
Tarrantino fan? You should be downstairs at the Legion on Thursday night for Burnt Shrines. The guitars will make you feel at home.
For a more explorative rock experience, check out Burro on Friday night at Bamboo, or Saturday night at the Palomino.
Need something heavier? Dicken’s is always a safe bet, and on Wednesday night, Chieftain will be there for your metal needs. They’re also at Bamboo Friday night.
The previous night (Thursday), Dicken’s will host Chron Goblin and their twangy, upbeat rock sound.
Also on Thursday, over at Commonwealth, Corinthian is bringing those hypnotic electronic sounds (and sights) for your late evening enjoyment.
Too new school for you? Bring it back to the 80s with a fresh take from Dextress, late Friday night at Broken City.
Ever wonder what “shoegaze” is? Divepool has your answer, but with a touch more surf than you might expect. Catch the wave on Wednesday at Local, or Thursday upstairs at the Palomino.
Wednesday at the Hifi Club, DJ Heebz will be showing you what a DJ should be.
Now, let’s folk this up a little. Dojo Workhorse plays Wednesday night at Wine-Ohs, and Saturday in the Local parking lot.
For some bright-lit punk, check out Dream Whip on Wednesday night at Bamboo, and Sunday on the Broken City patio.
Featuring some up-tempo beats and a fantastic name, Thursday night at the Legion will give you the DRI HIEV.
Grindy punk can be found, courtesy the compilation band Empty Heads, who are playing Tubby Dog on Wednesday night, and Dicken’s on Saturday.
If it’s showmanship that makes the band, The Ex-Boyfriends are going to be a hit this year. You get one chance with these punks – Thursday night at Broken City.
Two sets for the appropriately named Feel Alright – Broken City’s patio on Thursday night, and Saturday afternoon at Tubby Dog.
A little Bitter Fictions, a little Cable-Knits and Hunter-Gatherer, the Friesen/Waters Duo will be melting minds on Friday night at the NMC.
By their name, you’ve gotta know that Fuckworld isn’t playing giggle pop. Thrash with them on Friday night at the Legion.
Enjoy the trippy lyrical love of Ghostkeeper, twice as nice on Wednesday night at the Legion and Friday night at Broken City.
Thursday night at the Nite Owl, Glitter is going to bring the hardcore.
If you like your punk music, Hag Face is your hookup. Thursday night at Tubby Dog and Saturday night at Bamboo.
The softer side of rock brings HexRay to the Palomino on Wednesday night.
Who says there’s no hip-hop talent in Calgary? Certainly not Humble Giants. Wednesday night at Flames Central, and Saturday night at NMC, yo.
You can find Isis Graham in the club, but actually, performing outside at the East Village Riverwalk Plaza on Thursday afternoon.
Perennial Calgary performers Jung People are playing upstairs at the Legion on Saturday night. You know who they are.
Same spot, different night, completely different feel. Thursday. Upstairs at the Legion. La Luna. Expect the floor to bend.
Need your indie fix? Get some Lab Coast on Friday at Flames Central, and most fittingly, Sunday afternoon at Central Memorial Park.
Friday night at Wine-Ohs, that perfect mix of folk guitar and heavy drums means Lucid 44 is playing.
If you’re going to Sled with someone who never dances, bring them to a MANcub set and watch their world crumble in an explosion of garage rock. Thursday night at Dicken’s and Friday night at Palomino.
If that doesn’t work, take them to see The Mandates on Friday downstairs at the Legion.
For something a little, oh, suggestive, see one of Mark Mills‘ sets, either Wednesday night at the Nite Owl, or Saturday afternoon on the Broken City patio.
Thursday night at the Palomino, feel the flow from Melted Mirror.
Or, if you want to party a little harder, go bang with Monolith AB on Wednesday night at Dicken’s.
Equally as heavy but a bit punkier, Mortality Rate will assault the senses on Friday afternoon at the upper deck of the Legion.
Yo DJ, pump this party! Natural Selection DJs will bring the nostalgia to Broken City on Saturday night.
Wednesday night, as part of the Topman Presents at Republik, The Neutral States will give you a good, honest dose of indie goodness.
Want more? Check out the Night Committee, upstairs at the Nite Owl on Friday night.
Or maybe you should hear the rootsy, folkie, homegrown goodness of No River on Friday, if you’re near the Ship.
Get tripped up with The Now Feeling when they rock the Local parking lot on Saturday night. You can almost hear the smoke and patio lights.
Go ahead, try to pronounce Numenorean. I think it’s pronounced “canadian metal’. They’re playing Bamboo on Friday evening.
The name is simple, but the spins aren’t. OAK will be at the East Village Riverwalk Plaza on Thursday afternoon.
There’s nothing jazzy about OK Jazz, but OK Lo-Fi Twang Punk sounds weird, even for a band name. Wednesday night at Bamboo, and Friday night at Broken City.
Wanna get to something awesome right away? Orthicon is playing Tuesday night, downstairs at Commonwealth, bringing electronic beats to open the festival right.
Folkster Patrick Seager will bring his haunting voice to the Local 510 on Wednesday in the early evening.
Two times in one day? Yes, sombre punk Plastick can do it. Dinner at Tubby Dog, and a late night session at Nite Owl, all on Saturday.
Another twofer, but split between a Tuesday night set at Commonwealth and a Thursday night date with the downstairs of Nite Owl. Get Prepared for some hard-ass punk music.
Bring out the plaid shirts and board shorts to the Palomino for a late night Pygmies gig on Thursday.
What’s that Racket at Tubby Dog on Wednesday night, and in the basement of the Nite Owl on Friday night? Yeah, it’s those punks again.
Performing on her own as well as with Lab Coast, Samantha Savage Smith is an indie institution. She’s on the Broken City patio on Wednesday night, and in the Local parking lot on Friday afternoon.
Late on Wednesay night, in the lower levels of Commonwealth, you might hear something very European beating at the speakers. It’s SET.
Aleem is going solo at Sled, but he’s also teaming with his brother Kaleem as part of soulful Shaani Cage, playing three shows – Tuesday night at Commonwealth, Thursday night at Wine-Ohs, and Saturday afternoon at Olympic Plaza.
Thursday. Nite Owl. Sigil. More metal than you’re ready for.
Get ready to go clubbing with the Smalldown DJs on Thursday, as they join forces with other local DJs to rock the East Village Riverwalk Plaza.
Make your weekend with one of Soft Cure‘s sets – Friday afternoon at Local, or Saturday afternoon at Palomino. See how his lo-fi sound translates live.
Friday night at Dicken’s, The Soft Option shows that there’s more than one way to bring the surf and punk worlds together.
Tigerwing is bringing her distorted electro-pop sound to Commonwealth on Thursday night, with an encore at the Hifi Club on Saturday night.
On Wednesday night at Wine-Ohs, The Tontos will bring their laid-back, not-quite-punk, not-quite-rock sound.
Saturday night at the Republik, you’ll hear the ambient and very danceable Untrained Animals.
Surprisingly, Viet Cong are only playing one set this year. Happily, it’s at Olympic Plaza on Saturday evening, so everyone can go get their fill of their deliberate and expressive take on rock/punk.
The Ship & Anchor plays host to powerful metallurgist masters The Weir on Saturday night.
Feel the pull of that slower, grinding stoner metal with Witchstone, Wednesday night at Dicken’s (where else?)
If you’re looking for something experimental, Yankee Yankee will bring the digital difference to Commonwealth on Wednesday night, and Local on Thursday night.
Sorry, Yung Sioux, you’re last on the list, but in name only. A Hifi regular, he’ll be in the house on Wednesday night.