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Photo recap: Sled Island Day 4

By Jason Herring, Liv Ingram and Jarrett Edmund with photos by Jarrett Edmund — June 26, 2016

Our fourth day of Sled Island began at Tubby Dog for Victoria’s Fountains. Blending vaguely surf-rock moments with ’70s post-punk sensibilities, Fountains’ capricious sound is endlessly likeable and fun. As the band’s sound exploded into a frenzied peak near the end of the set, the audience stripped the stage of its decorative balloons and sent them floating through the crowd. That juxtaposition encapsulated what Fountains does best, blending visceral post-punk energy with buoyant playfulness. For everyone who still hasn’t gotten over Women, let Fountain be your new favourite band.




Bursts of torrential rain poured down on the walk to Olympic Plaza, but Sled-goers still came out to the outdoor venue in droves to watch the evening’s stacked lineup. We arrived in time for SUUNS, whose intense and meticulous post-rock compositions provided a ray of light in the dreary weather. The Montreal band made full use of their long set to dish out both accessible and enigmatic songs.


Land of Talk


Up next at Olympic Plaza was Montreal indie band Land of Talk. The band is back on tour after taking a long hiatus following release of their excellent 2010 album Cloak and Cipher. The set was full of nostalgia for many, as the Canadian indie staples dug deep into their discography to play hits and fan favourites. Guitarist Joseph Yarmush took a double shift during the evening, first ripping through a heavy set with Suuns before returning to stage to help give Land of Talk their signature reverb guitar sound.


Dancing in the rain


Despite heavy rain, Sledders kicked off their shoes to dance and run barefoot through the wet Olympic Plaza. Couples splashed and chased each other in the water while parents danced and tossed a beach ball around with their kids. The annual Olympic Plaza show usually has the most crossover appeal of any Sled Island show, so it’s always fun to see the different Calgarians who come down to enjoy the day of music.


Built to Spill


The rain let up just in time for ‘90s alt rock icons Built to Spill. After a long soundcheck, the Idaho band launched into the festival’s best rock setlist. Frontman Doug Martsch is an exceptional songwriter and an even better guitarist, and each Built to Spill track is packed with five or six unique and catchy riffs. It’s stunning to watch Martsch string these pieces together. Fan favourite “Carry the Zero” finished the set, but the band refused to let that be the end, stretching the song out with an extended guitar breakdown — and even then it felt like it wasn’t enough.


Guided by Voices


While Built to Spill were one of the tightest and more structured rock bands of the ‘90s, Guided by Voices are about as messy as it gets. The band has a prolific discography of over 500 songs. Guitarist Robert Pollard wasted no time getting to as many of those songs as he could, packing over 30 tracks into the band’s 75 minutes on stage and announcing each one with a drunken fervor. The audience responded, as fans sung along to favourites like “A Salty Salute” and “Echoes Myron.” The band was everything a festival headliner should be — fun, rowdy and full of hilarious dance moves and banter.




We capped off our Sled Island with a performance by festival curator Peaches. The crowd at Flames Central was as raucous as they were bizarre, as Sled attendees busted out their most eclectic outfits for the beloved musician. And Peaches did not disappoint. Her backup dancers had a costume booth on-stage where they changed into elaborate outfits including blonde unicorns in g-strings and giant vaginas. The set was electric, and Peaches’ post-Rocky Horror aesthetic was the perfect fit for her gritty, bass-driven dance music.

After an incredible week full of local and international talent, Sled Island wraps up today at the Palomino for the 7th annual Pig Roast at 3:30 p.m., featuring a number of bands including Speedy Ortiz and the Shiverettes. The final celebration will be an evening karaoke party at Broken City, as the sun sets on another unbelievable local festival.

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