The end of June means a downhill ride until the end of summer — the ideal time for the always anticipated Sled Island. As with the last three years, this is cause for celebration here in Cowtown, and this year, those celebrations will stretch beyond the festival itself, with a number of venues throughout town holding unofficial day parties. Free food, drinks and, most importantly, music — how cool is that?
On Thursday, July 1, Vancouver’s Mint Records hosts a piñata-theme party at Broken City starting at 1 p.m. Shena Yoshida, Mint’s rhythmically named label manager, opens with what Calgarians might consider a fairly stereotypical Vancouver attitude towards our fair city, but fortunately, she quickly redeems herself.
“The stereotype of Calgary, you usually think of a place where there’s cowboys and Stampede and lots of big, new buildings, somewhere you don’t expect to find very many cool shows,” she says. “But I view Sled Island, in terms of indie rock and the things that I’m really excited about, as being the closest thing Western Canada has to Pop Montreal. So many of my friends from Vancouver are making the journey.”
Why is the vision of a flock of Vancouverites descending on Calgary for our festival so smugly satisfying?
Musically, Mint will showcase the frenetic, eclectic fun of Hot Panda, hard-working dynamic duo The Pack AD and Calgary’s own Ramblin’ Ambassadors, whose guitarist, Brent Cooper, has a relationship with Mint that stretches back 10 years to Heuvos Rancheros’ 2008 platter, Get Outa Dodge. “We’re really proud of Brent,” Yoshida says. “He’s the longest-running recording artist on Mint and he is a total sweetheart.”
Of course, every piñata party needs a piñata, and Mint’s features a trinket-and-treat-stuffed effigy of iconoclastic rock oddity Nardwuar the Human Serviette’s head. Eager hipsters can line up to take a crack and see for themselves what’s actually inside that notorious noggin.
“I spent my first couple of years here trying to figure the guy out,” Yoshida admits. “But he’s really just like that.”
If that’s still not enough to get you down there, Yoshida also promises nachos for all and Pocky sticks aplenty.
There’s a whole whack of daytime all-ages shows and celebrations this year, too. Broken City, The Palomino and the Ship & Anchor each have all-ages friendly events throughout the week. If you’re old enough to imbibe, Local 510 will host a special “hangover breakfast” on Saturday featuring Norway’s Silje Nes, Southeast Engine and Hard Drugs. At press time, it hasn’t been confirmed whether Comrad Sound will be able to host its scheduled shows, due to its current licensing woes (visit ffwdweekly.com for more details), but our fingers are firmly crossed.
If, at the end of the four days of music and party overload, you still haven’t quite had your fill, Sunday, July 4 bookends the festivities with a free admission, good old-fashioned pig roast at the Republik. It also affords a second opportunity to catch Unnatural Helpers, So Cow, Tyvek and Victoria hardcore headliners NoMeansNo, among others, along with some secret special guests. Dan Northfield, the promoter responsible for booking entertainment at Local 510, Local 522 and The Drum and Monkey, is ready to offer pork, pints and tunes to 400 people.
“It’s basically a chance for all the venue staff and volunteers who have been too busy working, running around and pouring pints for everybody else to lay back, enjoy some music and partake themselves,” says Northfield. “So yeah, come out, have a pint and chow down on some pig.”