Mike Bell’s Top 5 Sled Island 2018 picks for Thursday

36?, Broken City (patio) at 7 p.m.

Calgary’s best band. Period. Trying to describe them is to try and understand frontman and songwriter Taylor Cochrane. And you don’t ever, ever want to go there. But you do want to go here. On Broken City’s roof, under the blue sky, with a pint in your hand, another one or two in your head and belly, this is the perfect way to start any night, let alone Sled as it ramps up, hits full speed.

Ada Lea, Central United Church at 7:30 p.m.

Her voice will make you ache. Her music the perfect balance of restraint and release. Like UK shoegaze wonders Wolf Alice, this Montreal fuzz-pop artist charms, disarms before overwhelming you with a wall of noise that swallows you in. If you missed her in the cozy, meat-worshipping confines of Tubby Dog Wednesday night, see her in the similarly holy house of Central United tonight as she converts and preaches to the true believers.

The Flaming Lips, McEwan Hall at 9:15 p.m.

Gonna add an extra one to the list because this kinda goes without saying. If you haven’t seen these psychmaster supremes live, you must. It’s a show. An experience. And a mind-blowing one. That said, if you have seen them, you’ve seen them. Know what I mean? And the fact that it’s up at the U of C means it removes you from the heart of Sled for a considerable amount of time. Where you might miss something like …

Wye Oak, Central United Church at 8:30 p.m.

If you took the Ada advice, why not stick around for the headliners? The Baltimore duo are a destination in their own right — an uber pleasing, dreamy folk-pop act who recall everyone on the spectrum from Enya to Yo La Tengo. It’s lush music that takes you soaring, pushes your heart into your head, while still giving you enough noise and groove to make your feet move on the terra firma. Beautiful.

Snotty Nose Rez Kids, Commonwealth (main floor) at 11:30 p.m.

A perfect bit of programming from Sled, as this Haisla Nation hip-hop pair will be performing on National Indigenous Peoples Day and as part of a lineup that also features Mob Bounce — who they’ve collaborated with — and Polaris Prize-winner Lido Pimienta. But not that they need that hook to get you in the door — Young D and Yung Trybez and their sharp, smart and smooth flowing rhythms and rhymes from a uniquely Aboriginal and socially aware perspective are fine and fly enough on their own to get any party started.

John Maus, Royal Canadian Legion No. 1 (main floor) at 12:30 a.m.

An actual philosomophizer who makes cool nu wave songs and sonicscapes that sound like a mix of Diamond Rings, Landscape and Vangelis. How could you not be on board with that? Mr. Maus should probably be performing in Studio Bell, utilizing all of their synth craziness, but at the Legion, with his live reputation, pretty sure he’ll still make some magic happen.

(Photo of Ada Lea courtesy Laurence Philomène.)

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.com. Follow him on Twitter/@mrbell_23 or email him at mike@theyyscene.com. He likes beer. Buy him one.