By Roog Kubur, June 30 2022—
This year’s Sled Island brought heat to Calgary’s rainy days. It’s probably the most unique festival you’ll ever attend, taking place in dozens of diverse venues across Calgary’s downtown. Walking down the streets from June 22–26 meant interacting with a slew of festival-goers planning their next move, whether it be catching a showcase at PinBar or stopping by the poster show at the I Love You Coffee Shop.
To call the range of venues hosting the festival diverse would be an understatement. People walking down any downtown street were caught in the fray, whether it be individuals trying to grab dinner at The Palomino Smokehouse or someone looking to browse Sloth Records. Places that were previously reserved for relaxing evening endeavours were transformed into concert venues, and existing concert venues were filled to the brim with audiences awaiting the next act.
The music was without a doubt the most sought after part of the festival. Walking through downtown during the week meant that you were able to attend several different shows throughout a single night, with most festival attendees spending their evenings hopping from venue to venue to catch whatever they could. For the places that didn’t require passes to attend like the upstairs shows at The Palomino Smokehouse, crowds quickly formed to catch glimpses of whatever act was up next. Regardless of whether it was a band beloved by locals or an act travelling across the country, there was something to satiate whoever was in the audience that night.
Those familiar with Calgary’s music scene or looking to learn more about it had lots to look forward to. The festival was dominated by local acts that have become household names, ranging from punk bands like DA’AT and Sunglaciers to indie pop-rock artists like Samantha Savage Smith and Clea Anaïs. Each set meant you were being introduced to musicians that have made names for themselves in the city.
However, those who weren’t interested in spending their evenings venue hopping were also treated during the week because CJSW hosted a series of live sets. Tuning into the station meant hearing from bands that were set to perform during the festival as well, giving listeners a taste of the festivities. Manitoba-metalheads Vagina Witchcraft first made their presence known on The Good Medicine Show, offering a sneak peak into what fans could expect for their later show at The Palomino Smokehouse. Both on-air and in-person versions of the set were absolute sights to be reckoned with, taking names and making sure listeners remembered the band.
At this point, it’s becoming redundant to say the clichéd phrase “Calgary is actually cool! Trust me!” Sled Island didn’t need to prove anything that hasn’t already been said before. A festival of this nature is not only unique in execution but also just cool. It’s fun to say that you were able to spend a night going around the city being introduced to new spots and exploring the different musicians. If you still think Calgary is cowboy county with nothing to offer except for the Stampede, you’re missing out on one of the most exciting events that could have taken place. Next year, if you’re looking for an excuse to listen to incredible live music, meet an interesting cast of characters and simply have a good time, buy yourself a pass to Sled Island. It will be worth it, no questions asked.