Sled Island 2022: 5 to see on Wednesday

Pretend for a second you have just awoken from a, let’s say, three-year coma.

Sure, you’ll likely want to reconnect with family, loved ones and friends — well, those who haven’t already moved on, presuming you were pretty much dead (hint: all of them. It was all of them) — but you’ll also want to get out there and enjoy the shell of a life you’re left with.

Best way to do that?

Well, sure, hookers and blow is probably high up on the list, but after you’re done with those welcome-back-to-the-living necessities you’ll also want to hear some amazing music, have some fun, and hang with a roomful of partying strangers (we’re assuming everyone at this point is a stranger, due to, you know, the mass exodus of people from your life since the accident).

Sled’s got you covered.

It is, finally, time for the return of in-person Sledding (oh, right: we should probably talk about the whole global pandemic shit you missed — but we’ll save that for later) with the arts festival taking place from June 22 to 26 this year, and taking over the city with some of the most exciting, exhilarating and challenging music, comedy and visual art you’ll find around these or any other parts.

You’re probably confused, though, about what you should see at the fest, what bands and artists you should target over the four days (as well as things such as your name, what shoes are meant for and why you are, in the blink of an eye, so very, very alone).

Like Sled, we’re here to help.

Here’s a suggestion of how you should plan Day 1 of your recovery and entrance back into the land of the living, what route you should follow, and five can’t-miss shows you should target as your new life begins.

Florida BC (8 p.m. at Royal Canadian Legion No. 1, main floor)

One of the city’s finest. Period. The latest project by Clinton St. John is a thrillingly foreboding, gothic-folk, hitchhiker-in-the-ditch sonic haunting. Dark. Sardonic. Dreamy. Hazy. Their debut Salt Breaker Sand deservedly topped our list of best Calgary albums in 2020. The perfect way to start your Sledding experience.

Dead Friends (9:30 p.m. at Dickens)

Keep the creepy feeling going with this Edmonton garage act that sounds as if it was recorded in the basement of the House on Haunted Hill. The four-piece are a lot slower, darker, odder, psychier and less schtickier than, say, The Gruesomes, but they fuzz and jangle it up in a weird, weird wonderful way.

Low (11 p.m. at Royal Canadian Legion No. 1, main floor)

Legends. The Duluth now-duo have been at it for more than two-and-a-half decades, with their ever-evolving and influential sound. Straight-up indie-rock and dream-pop to more layered, electro-infused subtleness, what brings it all back in is the vocal harmonizing between band principals Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker. Their live shows are, well, legendary. 

Mares of Thrace (11:30 p.m. at Broken City, main floor)

Eardrums will explode. Faces will be melted. This Calgary-birthed doom-metal pair are back after an almost decade-long hiatus. Sure, there’s been one subtraction (co-founder and drummer Stef MacKichan) and one addition (Casey Rogers), but with banshee wailer Therese Lanz leading the attack, none of that power has been lost. Welcome them back. And get ready to feel the burn.

BACKXWASH (Midnight at Commonwealth, main floor)

Polaris Prize-winning rapper and producer Ashanti Mutinta is capital “F” Fierce. The Zambian-Canadian artist comes at you hard and keeps on coming. Based in Montreal, she gained attention with that aforementioned prize-winner, 2020’s God Has Nothing To Do With This Leave Him Out Of It, a relentless, sinister and throbbing 20-minute assault, that is as much metal as hip-hop, and as satisfying and concise a recording you’re likely to hear. Live? Oh, my.