Sled Island 2011

by Aaron Vanimere on July 23, 2011

In keeping with the twitter-centric nature of our group (and due to the fact that I’m a photographer and not a writer), I’ve decided to write up each band I saw in 140 characters or less (I may have cheated on a few). All of the artists are listed in the order that I saw them. Here it goes:

Day 1:

Faux Fur: These guys couldn’t have been much older than 15, and I think they listen to a lot of the same music that I did at that age. Not bad at all.

Wild Nothing: Second band of the festival, and already a pleasant surprise. Indie pop without being cute, reminding me of the genre’s mid-90′s glory days.

Braids: According to @newmusicmichael, the band’s performance was more reserved than usual. It showed, and I probably left a little disappointed.

The Luyas: I’m prone to liking Montreal indie-bands, but The Luyas were so good that I was distracted from the shittiness of the Kokanee I was drinking.

Dum Dum Girls: I’m a sucker for the Dum Dum Girls’ aesthetic, so they could have been terrible and I wouldn’t have noticed. Thankfully, they were great.

Blonde Redhead: A comedown from the energy of prior acts, but reverent silence is probably the best reaction to the emotional weight of these legends’ songs.

Day 2:

Zola Jesus: Zola Jesus. Central United Church. Without hyperbole, one of the most beautiful, moving, haunting, astounding concert experiences of my life.

Lee Ranaldo: I adore Sonic Youth, but it’s not like Lee Ranaldo was going to whip out “Karen Revisited”. Interesting for 15-20min, but maybe not an hour.

Grey Kingdom: Lots of singer-songwriters are compared to Elliot Smith, but few properly capture his balance between heartbreak and humour. This guy does.

The Donkeys: Probably the most MOR set I saw during the festival. And I was drunk enough at the time that a boring band would seem interesting.

Justin Townes Earle: I really like Justin Townes Earle, and his set would have been a highlight even if he didn’t blow my mind by covering “Racing In The Streets”.

Day 3:

C’mon: Set the stage for a day of bearded metal guys trying hard to overcome the fact that they were playing outside in the middle of the afternoon.

Bison B.C.: A quick downpour of rain signaled that these guys may have won the afternoon’s battle against the sun. But, alas, the sun won that war.

Buzzcocks: I love the Buzzcocks (of the legendary punk bands, only The Clash are better), but let’s just say I was glad I saw them last year at New City.

The Sword: I seem to have a soft spot for hipster-approved American metal bands. The Sword aren’t Mastodon or Baroness, but they hit the spot just fine.

Sleep: You can guess how well an iconic band whose best album is called “Dopesmoker” went over with a crowd of stoner metal bands and their fans.

In Medias Res: Reminded me of the indie/emo bands I grew up on like Sunny Day Real Estate and Pedro The Lion. My undisputed best discovery of the festival.

Library Voices: I judged this band on their name, which made me think they would be an overly twee Belle & Sebastian knockoff. I was dead wrong, and glad.

Moon Duo: Moon Duo were pretty good, but on a day full of drone/psychedelic bands, I probably could have done without a Wooden Shjips side-project.

Kurt Vile & The Violators: I like Vile but underestimated his popularity. The last show I saw that kind of crowd react that strongly to was Titus Andronicus, who are better.

Cursive: I was tired and hungry so I left Cursive early and went for dim-sum with some friends, where we saw a gang fight break out. Lesson learned.

Day 4:

Alberta Cross: I arrived halfway through their set because I was watching Teen Wolf & Teen Wolf Too. If this band gets big, I’ll probably regret that.

The Greenhornes: After their solid but unspectacular set, I can see why Jack White likes these guys, and why I’ve been underwhelmed by the Raconteurs.

Twin Shadow: I was surprised to see that George Lewis Jr. is a witty, engaging and charismatic performer, and not standoffish like many of his peers.

Raveonettes: Made the best of their technical difficulties (and based on their appearance, a terrible fear of the sun) to play a pleasant, engaging set.

Chad VanGaalen: Everyone loves a “local boy done well” story, and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s introduction to CVG’s set made me proud to be an Albertan.

Minus The Bear: Playing after a local favorite put the band in an unfortunate position, and they seemed a little miffed by the crowd’s muted response.

The Dandy Warhols: I love the Dandys, and if their set didn’t already transform me from “professional photographer” to “giddy fanboy”, Zia smiling at me sure did.

Of Montreal: As a huge Of Montreal fan, their performance was everything I could have wanted and more. A perfect end to a glorious festival.

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