DEP Does Sled 2011: Days Two and Three

'It's the most wonderful time of the year' - Fist City, Twisted Element Sled 2011

'When is your Rodeo?' - Wild Flag, Twisted Element Sled 2011

'Does anybody have any pot?' - The Soft Pack, The Legion Sled 2011

Day Two: Rock me Gently/Good Vibrations

Day two of Sled Island Music and Arts Festival was like any other; full frontal nudity, Cyndi Lauper, and excessive body shattering good fun. Here are my highlights:

 Lee Ranaldo (Central United Church, all ages) - Ranaldo took the stage after Zola Jesus did their interpretive flash mob all over the pews. He began by weaving himself through the crowd and creating his frequencies between and around the several amps set up in the church.What struck me immediately was the video projection behind Ranaldo. Festival organizers say the Ranaldo suggested a tape be played that his wife made, so they popped it in. Full frontal man bush and ta-tas for the all ages group in a church, perfect background scenery for the musings and abusing of Ranaldo's guitar. The audience became either hypnotized or chatty admits the vibrating air and ritualistic dancing and occasionally bleeding naked folks behind Ranaldo.

The Nancees/STRFKR (Legion, The Republik) - I caught the last two songs from local heros The Nancees at The Legion and was taken in by their straight up garage punk and melodies. Can't wait to hear more from these guys and I look forward to playing them more often on the show.

During set-up for Crocodiles, I headed over to The Republik to get close and personal with perfect strangers and to catch STRFKR. Admittedly, I have never been a big fan of the name but their new album Reptilians (2011) has been in rotation for this dj. The track 'Death as a Fetish' featuring Mattress is a favourite. I rarely ever shout out a song name to be played because I feel the band has created their set list and sometimes I really am not in the mood for requests either, but I shouted twice. And what I got instead was over the top pop cover of Cyndi Lauper's 'Girls Just wanna have Fun.' When a band like STRFKR covers a song like this I can't help but thinking 'are they really having fun? Cause I am having a tonne of fun, but that keyboardist looks wasted and bored...' Oh well, I wanted entertainment, I got it. The good people at The Republik had a jammed pack club and a wicked line-up for the rest of the night with Wild Nothing up next and Blonde Redhead closing, I headed back to The Legion just in time for my new favourites.

The Soft Pack : Part One/ Dum Dum Girls: Part Two (The Legion) -
It is not a festival without discovering great new bands you have never heard of. In fact, it is one of the most important reasons to purchase a full pass so you can run around and explore. Case in point with The Soft Pack from San Diego. I got back to the Legion just in time for the foursome to take the stage and lead the next dance revolution with their romantic post punk. This being their second show of the fest, they held the crowd's attention and I am positive that several recently baptised by their sound had returned to the Legion for round two. This was just my round one, but I caught up with the band again on Day Three.

Speaking of part two's, Dum Dum Girls made their second appearance of the festival at The Legion on Thursday. The war era wood of the great hall provided perfect acoustics for the band and increased the quality of the listening experience ten fold from their first night. Crystal clear melodies and attitudes made for a great ending to day two.

Day Three: Papa Was A Rodeo

The Donkey's (Ship and Anchor)- After catching the last few songs from Times New Viking at Broken City, I headed to the Ship and Anchor for rock and roll fun with The Donkey's, this is their second year playing Sled. For their second performance in a row, the band led the audience in a dance off to 'Gloria' as homage to The Smuggler's 'Calgarians Can't Dance'. And for the second time, Calgarians broke the dance floor with their incredible skills proving Grant Lawrence wrong and uninformed yet again. Didn't you know G. Lawrence? The west is the best and The Donkey's know it too! The band had the most fun on stage of anyone to date I have seen at the festival, it was contagious. Their eclectic rock/post punk with sitar and blues infused rhythms made for a perfect afternoon at the Ship. I bought their latest LP and look forward to spending time listening to it.

Next up I headed to Twisted Element for what I anticipated as a a major highlight of the fest. The show featured Fist City from Lethbridge AB, that's right Lethbridge, The Intelligence from California, and Wild Flag from DC and California featuring members of Sleater Kinney, Helium, and The Minders. It was the first band performance for the venue in 7 years of business. The room features showers on the dance floor which were unfortunately not being used and streaming video of shadow dancing cowboys. And despite the lack of purse hooks in the ladies room, the hospitality of Twisted was superb.

Fist City (Twisted Element) - Thank goodness I didn't have to go to Lethbridge to see how amazing this band is live. Although, if it were the only option I would definitely go because Fist City is bigger than L city, C city, and possibly any damn city in this country. This foursome takes straight ahead LA garage rock and makes delicious with it all over your tastes. Twin sisters Kirsten and Brittany Griffiths make teganandsara look like flush puppets on the Polk a Dot Door, the kind that no-one wants to see but are forced to watch while you wait for Polk-a-Roo. I digress. Fist City's new album features a track called Iggy Pup that the band ended the show with while lead singer Kirsten threw herself on the crowd. They carried her powerful lungs through to the bridge as she shouted "I don't wanna be a dog! I don't wanna be a dog!". Holy shit Calgary.

The Intelligence (Twisted Element) -  This band is another example of my limited knowledge and the amazing job Sled organizers do every year to bring bands I would not get to see otherwise or even know exist. The nerd fest that took place during their set featured a song about males and one of personal favourites "Like Like Like Like Like Like Like" the poetics are limited to a minimalists dream and the pop rich punk and angular semantics of their sound are richly fantastic. Really fun.

Wild Flag (Twisted Element)  - I really really really wanted to see this. I wanted to see a group of chicks who know their shit kicking ass on stage, done and done. Wild Flag doesn't release their new album until September 2011 but all the buzz is abound for the ladies with good reason. They put on a great show. Carrie Brownstein's screaming vocals are arresting and counter balanced by Helium's Mary Timony creating a pendulum of emotion and power. Rebecca Cole rocks the keys and Janet Weiss is definitely a heavy hitter on drums. Although many members of the crowd knew the faces and names, no-one knew the songs. But it didn't matter, they are just that good.

The Soft Pack: Part Two (Vern's) - I love heading down to Vern's for a show. It's like entering your friend's basement and watching their band play. It's a very close and personal arrangement that made for a rewarding adventure at the end of the night. I wanted to see The Soft Pack again and was treated to a sweaty rock and roll dance floor as bonus. It was unfortunate that they couldn't bring their merch over the border but you can order here:

- JB

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