Superchunk Flames Central, Calgary AB, June 20

Superchunk Flames Central, Calgary AB, June 20
Photo: Steve Louie
The biggest story of Sled Island this year hasn't been the bands, unfortunately, but the flooding affecting the fest's surrounding neighborhood. Acts like Vancouver's B-Lines and White Lung, for instance, missed their respective set times after a mudslide trapped them in Banff. As the day progressed and intense periods of showers rained down on Calgary, close to thirty neighborhoods had been evacuated. This left a number of venues displacing shows not just out of necessity, but over safety issues. One such venue was Republik, which was to host the return of indie vets Superchunk, who had last been to town in 1998. The bar was forced to shut down earlier in the day, but the show was bounced blocks away to the hockey-themed Flames Central.

"Don't be intimidated by the flaming C's on the wall," eternally elfin-voiced guitarist-vocalist Mac McCaughan joked mid-set of the venue's vast array of team logos.

Superchunk put on a brave face the whole night through, delivering a back catalogue-scouring set list over twenty years deep. Opting out of showcasing their impending I Hate Music LP, they brought out classic pep-punk cuts like "Detroit Has a Skyline" and "Skip Steps 1 & 3," the deceptively doom-laden riffing of "Hello Hawk," and relative set list new comers "Learned to Surf" and "Digging For Something," off of 2010's Majesty Shredding. No matter the tempo, McCaughan pogoed and lunged around the stage in between his lines.

During the encore, Superchunk paid tribute to Calgary's punk rock history by ripping into a raw and ragged cover of Cowtown oldies the Sturgeons' "Punk Rock Virgins," but followed it up with a classic of their own: "Slack Motherfucker."