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Photo recap: Sled Island Day 3

By Jason Herring with photos by Jarrett Edmund — June 25, 2016

We kicked off day three of Sled Island at Commonwealth for the Mint Records showcase, where indie-rock artist Jay Arner’s pulsing dream-pop highlighted a packed set. With cheesy ‘90s outfits and a laid-back attitude, Arner’s music was a perfect fit for the balloon-adorned stage. The Vancouver native played a number of new tracks from his latest release Jay II, and the crowd bobbed along to wobbly basslines and heavenly synthpads.


Devanch Smith


We arrived at Central United Church in time for the pulsing drone music of Vancouver’s Davachi/Smith. The duo built up walls of repetitive noise that penetrated the pews of the church. The performance felt similar to Oneohtrix Point Never’s church performance two years ago, holding the crowd rapt and leaving them shaken by the set’s conclusion. Davachi/Smith will play live on CJSW 90.9 FM at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday evening, if you want to check out the duo or relive the ethereal experience.




The church reached capacity before Tortoise began their set, anticipation flowing through the audience as we waited for the band to arrive. Once they started playing, Tortoise certainly didn’t disappoint. The Chicago band ripped through a set that bounced between post-rock, progressive rock and jazz with the most technical dexterity seen so far at Sled. Members of Tortoise played seemingly asynchronous parts on different instruments, weaving in and out of one another until a glorious moment where all of Tortoise’s disparate pieces came together in syncopation. Every song that Tortoise played — whether it featured two drum kits or two xylophones — was exceptional. Even after an encore fans still gave a standing ovation hoping for more.


Central United


Sled Island’s all-ages venues are among the festival’s coolest and feature some of the week’s best talent. Central United Church is a gorgeous venue, with a giant organ and beautiful stained glass. It’s a shame more shows don’t happen there during the rest of the year. Theatre Junction Grand is one of the best-sounding spaces Sled uses, and 17th Avenue’s Tubby Dog is always good for an off-the-rails punk show.




The Royal Canadian Legion #1 is a surprisingly spacious venue, with two floors of music, a huge dance floor and plenty of seating space to the side. There were also a few pieces of visual art upstairs, including an isolated bathroom stall that asked, “Would you traverse a desert to reach an oasis?” We arrived in time to catch the start of BETRAYERS, an Edmonton psych rock band that brought a chill vibe to the buzzing venue. The band’s flowery rock riffs struck a chord with the crowd and made for one of the funnest sets of the evening.




By the time The Sonics were set to appear, the upstairs show at the Legion had finished and everyone funnelled downstairs to wait for the iconic ‘60s garage band to play a set 50 years after the release of their seminal album Here Are The Sonics!!!. In fact, most shows had finished by The Sonics’ 1:00 a.m. set time, creating lines out the door and a solid mass of people in front of the stage. When The Sonics finally started playing, they sounded like they hadn’t aged a day, playing a style of garage rock with more intensity and louder screams than any of the night’s predecessors. The show also featured the first crowd-surfing we witnessed during the festival.


end photo
We’re entering the twilight of Sled Island, with only one full day left. The main attraction will be Olympic Plaza, where ‘90s indie rock titans Guided by Voices and Built to Spill will play, but a rainy forecast might drive some away from that outdoor show. That’s okay — Saturday’s packed schedule has enough wicked bands that I wish I had Hermione’s time-turner so I could be at three venues at once.

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