TGIF, am I right? We started Day Two of Sled Island on the top of the world. Or perhaps I should say at the top of the city. The artist lounge for Sled Island is located at the top of the Calgary Tower, which puts you at 525 feet above the city so you can see the spanning prairie skyline from a 360 degree view while eating free candy and rubbing shoulders with the indie rock elite that the festival is so infamously stacked with.
Unfortunately Neko Case ended up cancelling her performance at the festival so we skipped Olympic Plaza and went over to a rustic Jazz venue in the basement of one of Calgary’s oldest sandstone buildings, the Grain Exchange, to see Halifax folk-rock troubadour John McKiel. He was even joined on stage by Calgary musician Chris Dadge on drums as he played a beautiful and heartfelt set of zingers and ballads alike that make McKiel so much more than a boring sensitive singer-songwriter, he’s a true poet with heart, rhythm and soul.
The stage was draped in red velvet, there was a huge bingo calling board on the side of it and it was at this venue where I was met with perhaps my most favorite festival highlight, Shannon & The Clams. This Oakland-based rock ‘n’ roll doo-wop trio is very distinguishable, not only by their unique sound but also by the strong stage presence. I felt like I was walking in to a scene from Twin Peaks as the maximum capacity gymnasium pulsated and swayed with positive youthful vibes that sucked you in to the middle of the crowd.
I don’t care what you think about electronic music but this guy can command an audience better than any other one-man electronic act I’ve ever seen (Yes, even better than that Girl Talk nerd). Dan Deacon had the entire audience engaged in a sweaty dance party from the second he took the stage.
Sled Island’s Friday night festivities ended on a very high note in so many different ways but I was exhausted so we headed home for some much deserved rest.
Photo and words: Glenn Alderson