The first wave is meant to gently rock your boat.
The next ones will swamp you.
That’s the feeling you get from discussing with Maud Salvi the list of 15 names on the first wave of acts announced to play this year’s edition of the Sled Island alternative music and arts festival.
“This year we definitely included a few smaller acts,” says the executive director of Sled.
“I don’t think there’s name-recognition there, it’s more so that people check them out early — to mix things up a little bit.”
That’s not to say the initial peek of what’s to come at this year’s event — which takes place June 21-25 at various locations around Calgary — is not an impressive and eclectic crew of artists once you dig in.
First wavers include: influential Minnesota indie rock act Low; Salem metal vets Converge; Waxahatchee, which is the project of Katie Crutchfield, who will perform a solo set at Sled; New York electro psych legends Silver Apples; the new hard and heavy side project of the Polaris-loved Colin Stetson called Ex Eye; Montreal faves Land of Talk, who make a return after a well-received showing last year; legendary Ethiopian jazz giant Hailu Mergia; Pacific Northwest dooms men Wolves In the Throne Room; and the new experimental ensemble of Swans member Thor Harris called, appropriately, Thor and Friends.
The list of firsters is rounded out by New Fries, Cloud Nothings, Weyes Blood, Mothers, King Woman and Daughters.
The acts join previously announced L.A. producer and hip-hop artist Flying Lotus, who will be the guest curator for this year’s Sled, joining past participants such as Peaches, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Andrew W.K. and Kathleen Hanna in the role.
None of the first wave artists are, Salvi says, his picks, with those being awaited with great interest.
In fact, due to an incredible bit of fortuitous booking, the buzz surrounding Flying Lotus (a.k.a. Steven Ellison) could not be greater, thanks to the screening of his debut feature length film Kuso at Sundance last month just after he was announced as Sled’s guest curator.
It’s an extreme movie that was met, purposely the artist says, with revulsion by some, walkouts by others, and a whole lotta press.
“We totally lucked out,” Salvi says. “We totally lucked out because I didn’t even know his film was going to premiere at Sundance, I just found that out after the fact.
“It’s just one of these,” she laughs, “ ‘Oh, fuck, yeah,’ we really lucked out.”
Salvi says “it’s a possibility” that Kuso will screen at this year’s fest as part of the film programming, but nothing has been confirmed or finalized.
He will, however, perform a special show at The Palace Theatre on June 24, with tickets for that as well as other single shows going on sale later in the spring.
Discounted passes for Sled are available now until March 13 from the website. Prices range from $191 for the Discovery Pass, which grants access to all Sled Island events (music, comedy, film and art), subject to capacity, to the Discovery Plus Pass for $327, which grants priority access to all Sled events, entrance into the artist lounge access, a T-shirt,limited edition screen-printed poster and other goodies. As with every year, there’s also an All-Ages Pass, now priced at $3, which lets those under 18 into the more than 50 all-ages events.
The second wave of artists will be announced March 14 and at that point prices will change.
Mike Bell has been covering the Calgary music scene for the past 25 years with publications such as VOX, Fast Forward, the Calgary Sun and, most recently, the Calgary Herald. He is currently the music writer and content editor for theYYSCENE.ca, and the co-host of the show Saved By the Bell, which airs Wednesdays from 4-6 p.m. on CJSW 90.9 FM. Follow him on at Twitter/@mrbell_23 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He likes beer. Buy him one.