MIKE BELL, CALGARY HERALD
Published on: June 24, 2012
Pretend you had four Adam Levines.
I’d like to spend some time attempting to allow you to get attached to them, but, really, unless you’re a 13-year-old girl or a woman with low self-esteem whose sole requirements for a mate are “dreamy,” “pulse” and “must love cats and/or annoy millions of viewers weekly,” we know that ain’t gonna happen.
Besides, too late anyway. All four of them have already died a horrible, horrible death. I’d like to describe it to you but, really, the details are far more gruesome than even Marquis de Sade, Marsellus Wallace or Eli Roth could imagine on their worst hair/merkin day. But I see it. I see it clearly. And. It. Is. Beautiful. . . .
I’d also like to say it’s a metaphor for something, but, nah. It’s merely because, at the gunpoint of a paycheque, I’m listening to the new Maroon 5 album, and questioning God’s existence with every lazy cliché, recycled sound choice and hamfisted hit-aiming melody.
(As a side note: Payphone? Really? I know you’re looking to charm with your antiquated wink, but even Lily Tomlin wants to punch you right in your smug, mealy face you vapid, sanctimonious little prat.)
Making matters worse, is that it’s being done to the detriment of the memories attempting to be conjured from the past two magical days, the final ones of this year’s Sled Island festival. (Well, again, that’s not considering the overtime session of this evening’s wrap-up bbq at the Republik and some DJ sets at the HiFi. Pretty sure there’s also a three-week cruise that departs from the shores of the pristine Sikome Lake this Tuesday.)
And those memories are ones that, like most of the record-setting numbers taking in the past few days — now, officially, the best of not only the summer, but the entire music-going year — will remain for ages, survive even the most Maroon 5iest of experiences.
Because it’s late in the process, and because at this point I’m not even sure of what day it is — for proof, please see printed copies of today’s Calgary Herald, which, besides seemingly pre-imagining a conversation this afternoon with Sled festival director Lindsay Shedden, also declares “Dewey Defeats Truman,” itself a time-challenged statement having 1998’s The Truman Show beating 2007’s Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox story at the box office — we’re going to do the highlights all point-form like.
Unless there are any objections. And in that case, we’ll strap you into that school bus filled with Mummy-conjured scarabs alongside four paper-cutted and vinegar-marinated Adam Levines as you drive around in search of a working payphone.
– Feist, Timber Timbre, and Wake Owl at Olympic Plaza: It was raining! (Thanks, Ollie.) Read this.
– Cowpuncher at Palomino (Upstairs): One of Calgary’s finest bands, that seems to improve with every week, every sweet alt country performance. If I hear them perform the Waterboys’ Fisherman’s Blues one more wonderful time, I will ask the Almighty to strike me dead in that very spot. And, probably, run. Cuz I’m kinda a puss.
– Reigning Sound at the Legion #1 (Downstairs): The veteran American rockers attracted the old folks of the Sled set and delivered a pretty no-nonsense performance that apparently was also a subliminal advertisement for drinking. Which. By the end of their set meant Alexander Keith’s was the only option. Which isn’t one.
– Craig Finn at the Palomino (Downstairs): The highlight of the entire Sled week from one person’s perspective. Finn, the frontman for The Hold Steady, the highlight of the next night at Olympic Plaza, is the most passionate, incredibly astute and remarkably intelligent storytelling American songwriter of the past two decades. It was impossible not to be held (lovingly) rapt, as he weaved tales of meeting school bullies who were now working at Perkins and describing in brilliant, universal detail the experience of seeing live music. And, of seeing, him. A set of pure, mature bliss.
– Night Committee, Dojo Workhorse, Eric Bachmann at Broken City: An early afternoon show, it was also the epitome of Sled. A spectacular showcase of two of the finest local acts this city has to offer, paired with an unannounced solo set by Archers of Loaf frontman Bachmann. The Night trio sweated up a storm and put it all out there with their organ fuelled rock while Sled curator Danny Vacon and his subdued Dudes side-project were a cold compress soothing any hangover in the room with their sweet melodies and harmonic, gospel debauchery. Both set the table perfectly for Bachmann, whose post folk rock was less wordy than Finn’s but still had an intensity that transcended the one guy, one guitar scenario.
– Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, and The Hold Steady at Olympic Plaza: The rain and the lack of mainstream recognition that Feist provided on Friday night meant that the crowds were a whole lot less for the Saturday mainstage show, but that doesn’t mean the entertainment was any less. In fact, the final two acts of the Plaza night — after earlier sets by The Dudes, Shabazz Palaces and Bonjay — probably doubled the satisfaction of the previous evening. Malkmus and his post-Pavement band provide a fabulous, off-kilter, slightly askew alt pop that umbrella-ed away the clouds. And The Hold Steady, well, seriously, if you’ve never seen them, you truly can’t appreciate the sub-Boss rock that they hammer their audience with. It’s smart, fun and utterly spellbinding, as Finn is as extroverted a frontman as he is a simmering solo artist.
– Bend Sinister and Archers of Loaf at the Republik: A final sweat-glow show for a Saturday night that had everything you look for in a man: Hair and experience. (Note: It’s the definition I found when I randomly googled “Bears.” Still not sure what it means.) The hair came by way of Vancouver’s BS, a great West Coast, classic-rockier version of The Trews, whose beardy, coonskin capped appearance matched their sound and loud, lumbering energy. Their version of Supertramp’s Logical Song which closed the set was a shaggy, shambolic joy. That gave way to the experience of reunited American ’90s indie vets Archers of Loaf, who showed confidence, poise, a sure, solid rock sound and the energy of four friends who love what they do. And who are damn good at it. But, the week-long, and the lids and liver weighted down by the past several days, it was a show that was done halfway before it ended. From one person’s point of view.
There you have it. Another Sled Island proper in the books. For a purely academic (i.e. one where there are less deaths, canine or otherwise, and the secrets of time travel are revealed) you can go here.
And for a more concise wrap, well, I don’t do that without footnotes, brackets and extended metaphors that try the patience of even the most Dalai Lamaic of monks at peace with themselves. I can just say, once more for the record, that Sled Island, reaching its sixth year, has hit its stride. Yes, it may be harder to fully experience, harder to take in because of the success it has achieved because of the popularity and scope of the event. But, so? It’s sold-out venues and long lines are testament to the fact that it continues to attract to town the most diverse, intriguing and enjoyable lineup of artists while bringing the entire city of Calgary alive during its memorable multi-day run.
In fact, I wish there were four of them
And I would keep them all safe.