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Artists to catch at Sled Island 2016

June 16 2016 —

Sled Island kicks off its 10th year as one of Calgary’s most beloved summer festivals from June 21–26. This year’s lineup is packed to the brim with musical acts of all genres.

The festival is curated by Peaches — an eclectic Canadian electronic musician who performs her art as passionately as she makes it. Sled Island executive director Maud Salvi says Peaches’ influence made a big difference to this year’s lineup.

“I feel like you can sense the Peaches touch even in some of the stuff she didn’t directly choose,” Salvi says. “There’s definitely more dancey stuff. Someone in the office said this is the sexiest lineup of Sled Island.”

Deafheaven and Guided by Voices are among noteable headliners.

The festival takes place at venues throughout downtown Calgary, which means Sled Island music will fill theatres, bars, parking lots, patios and nightclubs for six days and nights.

It can be tough to narrow down which acts to catch during the hectic festival, where something is happening almost all the time.

“The lineup can seem overwhelming,” Salvi says. “But we try to make it easily walkable or bikeable so people can venue-hop and see as many shows as they can,” Salvi says.

With that in mind, here are our four picks to keep on your radar at this year’s Sled Island.

Courtesy Sarah Creighton

Courtesy Sarah Creighton

Chastity Belt:

When: Wednesday June 22 at 1:00 a.m. (Thursday morning) and Thursday June 23 at 11:30 p.m.

Where: Broken City and Tubby Dog

Washington-based band Chastity Belt are no prudes. Fueled by booze, rock and irony, they have all the necessary ingredients for a grunge-rock trifecta.

Hypnotic guitar loops buzz over Julia Shapiro’s poignant lyricism, punching at stereotypical notions of femininity. “We’re just a couple of sluts. So what? We like to fuck,” sings Shapiro on the song “Cool Slut.”

Their latest record, Time To Go Home, is more than just an apathetic stab at the patriarchy — it also takes aim at apathy itself. “Is it cool not to care?” repeats Shapiro on the late cut “IDC.”

It is a question rarely considered by a genre known for its
bravado, and this sense of self-awareness gives Chastity Belt an edge over the seemingly infinite number of male-only garage bands that dominate the business.

“He was just another man trying to teach me something” sings Shapiro on album opener “Drone.” Head down to Broken City and Tubby Dog and educate yourself — or whatever.

Jarrett Edmund


Courtesy Nicole Straub

Courtesy Nicole Straub

The Shiverettes: 

When: Wednesday June 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday June 26 at 6:00 p.m.

Where: The John Dutton Theatre and The Palomino

Feminist punk band The Shiverettes is bound to be one of the festival’s rowdiest acts with their politically charged discography.

The band rocked the local punk music scene last year with the release of “Stephen Harper, Suck My Dick.” The track featured pointed lyrics like, “Women are missing, women are murdered,” paired ​w​ith hollering vocals and a janky guitar. The song quickly became an anthem within the progressive music scene, voicing the concerns of the politically dissident in an election peppered with social issues surrounding missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.

Hailing from Calgary, the band expresses an important voice of discontent with Alberta’s political elite, and expresses a kind of unrest that is definitive of the punk genre.

It’s obvious that The Shiverettes have a tough skin. The kind of music they produce is not only brave in a time when the punk aesthetic has largely retreated — its impassioned, feminist- discontent is also quintessentially Canadian.

Emilie Medland-Marchen


Julia Holter: 

Courtesy Marc Sethi

Courtesy Marc Sethi

When: Thursday, June 23 at 10:00 p.m.

Where: Theatre Junction GRAND

There’s a reason Julia Holter will play her set in a theatre instead of one of Sled Island’s many rowdier venues — her unique brand of baroque pop is best served in an environment where the audience can hear every detail.

Holter will likely play material from her exceptional 2015 release Have You in My Wilderness. The album’s ability to evoke deep emotions of romance, anxiety and longing through inviting pop tracks made it one of last year’s best records.

The musician’s other work may be even better on a live stage. Previously, Holter released a number of albums that explore more experimental pop alongside heady spiritual themes. While these tracks are harder to swallow, they’re sure to feel transcendent on stage.

Holter creates some of the best sounding songs I’ve ever heard. Her music is meticulously arranged, and each listen reveals another layer. If Holter can make her songs sound half as good live as their in-studio versions, festival-goers are in for a real treat.

Jason Herring


Courtesy Casey Lewis

Courtesy Casey Lewis


When: Friday June 24th at 11:00 p.m.

Where: Flames Central

Montreal-raised, Haitian-born producer Kaytranada will bring his alternative electronic jams to Flames Central. With the release of his debut studio album, 99.9%, Kaytranda has mastered his distinct, vibrant sound while maintaining an undercurrent of Haitian island vibes.

Although many of his remixes and collaborations suggest a conformation to the always changing hip-hop genre, Kaytranada continually diverges from the
constructs of the genre.

With a splattering of funk, R&B, hip-hop and house, this is the perfect show anyone who has a hunger for fun. Audiences can also expect a kick of nostalgia along with Kaytranada’s renewed remixes of Missy Elliot and TLC classics.

Kaytranada’s beats dive into a dreamy, lightly psychedelic state — the perfect vibe for a summer evening among friends.

Kaytranada is known to keep the crowd on their feet and loving it. He last played at the Hifi Club two years ago, and if you missed that show, you’ll certainly want to make this one.

Hayden McBennett

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