Written by Shane Joines
Photos from Greg Bennett and Mat Simpson
Cover Photo: Dada Centauri @ Commonwealth. Sled Island 2018. Photo by Greg Bennett.
Calgary, Alberta hosts the 13th iteration of Sled Island, June 19-23, welcoming over 250 artists in 30+ venues scattered throughout the inner city. Comedy, film and art installations fill in the gaps for 5 days of galavanting, general carousing, and frankly, getting walloped over the head with a cotton candy sledge hammer of syrupy grooves. Check out some of the can’t miss artists on this year’s Sled Island line-up below.
The name signifies disruption, but Muqata’a plucks the sublime from the cacophony of Ramallah, Lebanon. Found sounds from a fractured cityscape crumble into serene moments of beauty. Protest music digging into Palestinian crates repurposed for the dance floor. Parties as protest. Let Muqata’a tell it:
“Being a glitch in the system is very important. When your heritage is being attacked by the state, you have to find ways of being remembered, so I sample a lot.”
Strangely, this show is at the Central Library Auditorium, so I am expecting visuals instead of a dance floor. Either way, don’t miss this.
Cate le Bon
When I’m down at the local brewery I often chat music with local artist Samantha Savage Smith, and her Sled Island recommendation was Cate le Bon, point blank, period. Now I should preface by saying that I’m pretty sure Samantha is opening for Cate at Sled Island, but I have to tell you, she wasn’t kidding. Cat le Bon doesn’t sound like she messes around.
The Comet is Coming
Second Line from the depths of outer space; Somewhere between Sun Ra and Carrnivale. Christian Hutchings recordings stretch the imagination from a Carribean Fish Fry through an avant garde wormhole and spit you out the other end. The Comet is Coming bring apocalypse and salvation; macaroni & cheese on the side. It’s Hutchings at his funkiest, a doomsayer of groove.
Sometimes shimmering, always sultry, sub- bassy dance floor goodness. Ouri’s pristinely layers her viscous tunes at the Annual Sled Island Block Party or closing hours at Hifi.
Sinjin Hawke & Zora Jones Live AV
Like shiny Soryama robots fighting in spaceship arenas to appease their misguided human overseers (as the revolution beckons).
Post-apocalyptic moshpit under the Terrordome to please their robot overlords (as the revolution beckons).
One sings the body electronic with weirdo motion capture instruments and visuals; the other, a dopamine release of dystopian anxiety through raw human contact.
Pick your palette, because you probably can’t see them both.
Torres plays at exactly the same time as well. Which is why Sled Island turns into a Choose-Your-Own Adventure. You knock heads with the crew and plot relative courses, but generally go with where your bike and intuition will take you.
I’ll leave you with a few more names to check out while you’re roaming around Calgary, June 19-23rd: Thanya Iyer, Ziibiwan, Barry Paquin Roberge, Beach Body, L CON, The Pink Lincolns, The Orange Kyte, Hermitess, Selci, Madras Cartel and Hundredmillionthousand…