Sled Island 2014 — day three in review

Holy shit. Dan Deacon . (See above sorry about the sound quality.)

Okay sorry I’m getting ahead of myself.

Starting the day at Local 510 the first surprise came from Dories . Jangly guitar and off beats kept them interesting as the rain poured down outside the parking lot tent.

Braving the weather we ventured to The Palomino getting off our bikes just in time for huge drops of rain to start hammering down. Inside woolworm were worth the wetness followed by Sontag and their heavy satisfying guitar.

At National Music Centre Crystal Swells were an intense and excellent punk interlude before hitting Bamboo and taking in Mormon Crosses . This band was fantastic and it has to be said that there’s no better place in the city to catch a punk show — cramped loud and lacking a stage Bamboo is perfect and Mormon Crosses were close.

Over at the Legion local crooner and sultry performer Mark Mills had the crowd eating out of his hand. Thrusting his way through yet another awesome set he was the perfect warm up for Dan Deacon not that Dan Deacon needs warming up.

Deacon’s set was intense with everyone surging and pushing and dancing and just all around freaking the hell out to his hard hitting digital beats and general chaos. This was fun loud and mad making it a highlight of this year’s festival. Deacon coordinated weird dance competitions and events (you really just had to be there) in order to get the already hyped crowd moving and then punished the room with his insanely catchy sounds.

And then it was home though not without seeing some asshole tagging the Langevin bridge heading into Bridgeland with a shitty marker. I told him it was a dick move and it was. This is why we can’t have nice things. Asshole.


Soupcans and Cross at Tubby Dog.

Jon Daly for comedy at Big Secret Theatre.

Jung People at Local 510.

Gaytheist at The Palomino.

The Slabs at Bamboo.

Screaming Females Mindtroll and Obits at the Legion.


Day three started around 4 p.m. at Commonwealth which if I’m being honest felt like 7 a.m. with my current sleep schedule. That said the Mint Records day party filled the club with a feel-good family vibe as labelmates from around the country performed together.

Jay Arner who has yet to stop touring his fantastic self-titled debut album crooned his way through the hits while introducing some new material from a forthcoming record. While the new songs weren’t familiar enough to stick with me afterward they were incredible to experience — while he’s retained the warm melodies and sonic choices Arner’s new material is built on complex chord progressions and welcome surprises. Pop music is rarely both inviting and inventive.

After the band’s set we ate some food at The Palomino. Between gobs of pulled pork I noticed that the comedy was in danger of selling out via some Tweets from promoter Evan Wilson. Turns out he was exaggerating a little but showing up early did mean we had some prime seats for the comedy show.

The show was hosted by Alan Cho who was about as Alan Cho as Alan Cho can be. Then there were a mixed bag of mostly-local comics including solid work from Britney Lyseng Jeff Toth and (Vancouver transplant) Brett Constantine .

All three comics were talented offering a respectable amount of chuckles. But none achieved the transcendent lunacy of Jon Daly . First appearing as Brooklyn comedian "Come on now" then after a brief break as the crowd favourite Bill Cosby Bukowski Daly offered truly inspired performances. Whether subtly gesturing during long fits of silence or shrieking at running around the stage he delivered on all fronts.

The show was headlined by Hari Kondabolu a Brooklyn comic best known for his work on Totally Biased with Kamau Bell and his recently-released Waiting for 2042 stand-up record (via Kill Rock Stars of all places). It would have been interesting to see Kondabolu play a less progressive room because his comedy comes with some strong views (against bigotry mostly — but there are plenty rooms in Calgary that are unwittingly pro-bigotry I’m sure).

That said Kondabolu’s witty jokes warm delivery (his soothing voice and Queens accent make him a pleasure to listen to — no wonder he’s a regular on NPR) meta-commentary (at one point he chastised himself for not including the trans community in his "feminist dick joke") and flawless execution made him a pleasure to watch. Though he was (rightly) dissecting white colonialism throughout his set he managed to keep the mostly white room onboard the whole time.

Outside the Epcor Centre the sounds of Joel Plaskett rang through the streets as rain bucketed down. We ran down Stephen Ave. to catch Jon McKiel who joined by local drummer Chris Dadge kept the cellar warm with his gritty guitar-heavy rock.

The next few hours were a blur of drinking and running into old friends but we eventually made our way to the No. 1 Legion where we were able to experience the Black Box Gallery firsthand. Downstairs B.A. Johnston commanded the packed room with his highly weird highly energetic show before Teledrome brought things down to a bummer level (in a good way) with their icy haunting post-punk. Through the massive sound-system Ryan Sadler’s vocals were crystal-clear and a friend observed that he occasionally shares some operatic qualities with Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson of all people.

After a performance from Technical Kidman (that to be honest didn’t really connect with me — I’m more of a VideoCameran Diaz kinda guy) Mark Mills led the packed upstairs Legion through a bouncy sweaty set.

Then the moment we’d all been waiting for — Baltimore symphonic synth wizard Dan Deacon . After a warm ambient introduction he his inner cult-leader/hypnotist run free coaxing the crowd through all sorts of audience participation. It was wild energetic and fun — everything Deacon accomplished the last time he was here but on a bigger scale.

That said when you’re on the verge of blacking out from a lack of sleep and a wealth of alcohol other people’s fun is kinda miserable. Here’s a photo of me watching Dan Deacon captured by The Greater Wall’s Dustin Bromley:

This is @josiahhughes having the time of his life during Dan Deacon. pic.twitter.com/4mijJ2Vv3l

— Dustin John Bromley (@DustinJBromley) June 21 2014


There have been some last-minute shows announced. To celebrate Go Skateboarding Day Sabertooth NEEDS and woolworm are playing at Commonwealth. The show starts at 2 p.m.

In the early evening a Local 510 show featuring B-Lines The Greater Wall and more has been booked.

Screaming Females have been getting a ton of praise by everyone around the fest and there’s one more chance to see them at the Legion tonight.

If you’ve never seen The Spits you need to. If you’ve never been to the Golden Age Club you need to go. Remedy both things tonight.