Sled Island Festival Calgary, AB June 24 – 27

Kicking off with a choice between Final Fantasy in a church or Wednesday night's Factory Party at the Uptown Theatre, our festival experience began with an oh-so-soulful DJ set by New York genius Jonathan Toubin and a pretty mediocre set from Andrew WK (dude needs a backing band!), but the real treat was Japanther. Setting up in a cramped, sweaty corner, the duo played a long, messy set of their bass/drum/cassette-based pop-punk jams.

On Thursday, Edmonton post-hardcore monsters Gift Eaters were an amazing discovery, shredding through weirdo hardcore jams like nobody's business. Then it was over to the Central United Church, where Mount Eerie performed intimate, solo versions of tracks from his upcoming Wind's Poem record, punctuating his quiet, heady songs with the odd Michael Jackson quip.

As with every night at the fest, the Legion concluded Thursday with a riotous, party atmosphere that welcomed sets from Japanther, Japandroids, King Khan and BBQ Show, Andrew WK, and documentary subjects Anvil, whose front man Lips joked about his age and did some hammer-ons in the crowd. Needless to say, getting up for work on Friday was a struggle, but getting through the day was worth it. Israeli rock n' roll avengers Monotonix nearly exploded local hot dog restaurant Tubby Dog, attracting hundreds of people. They set up their drums on the counter, had a food fight with the crowd, and spilled out onto 17th Ave with their hilarious, high-energy set, and it was a miracle that nothing went horribly wrong.

From there, it was time to check out the mainstage at Olympic Plaza. The outdoor festival environment was indeed a bizarre forum for the noisy tendencies of Holy Fuck, but Anvil were right at home, greeted with the same half-capacity crowd as in their movie. Rather than wait around for Liars, it was off to Broken City for a rousing set by Vancouver Graceland-lovers No Gold, who provided both the rapturous joy and technical difficulties that twelve-string guitars are wont to bring. A quick jaunt over to the Plaza Theatre gave plenty of time for Quintron and Miss Pussycat's swampy organ blues and a delightful set from The Evaporators, who have changed members but not much else over the years.

Then, it was back to the Legion, where These Arms Are Snakes brought the heavy jams promised on record, and Obits were just as loud without their fourth member. Saturday, being the final set of music, kicked off early with a breakfast show where Calgary's own Hunter-Gatherer played noisy indie rock that was a nice morning treat. Then, a house party added a sense of excitement and danger to sets from Stamina Mantis, Nu Sensae, The Bayonets!!!, and Puberty, all of which were badass in their own special way.

After dinner, it was time for The Bayonets!!! to perform again at Broken City, and if there's one rule, it's that this Edmonton post-hardcore band should be seen as many times as possible. When that was over, we headed to the Distillery to catch a stupidly fun set from Calgary pub punk legends Knucklehead, followed by Los Angeles rock n' roll heavyweights The Bronx. All in all, the festival brought a glowing sense of the diversity and community that Calgary is capable of, leaving many excited and inspired. Here's hoping more than a few great bands were started that weekend.