Wednesday was the first day of Sled Island for me but already the festival had been underway since Tuesday. I started my day off at the National Music Centre to check out a few different local hip-hop groups.
National Music Centre
Chief Navaho are two young Mexican-Canadian brothers from Calgary who are already very skilled They were joined by another mc, Yogi, and a beat maker. The best part of the show was when the three mcs would freestyle with one beginning and another jumping in without skipping a beat where the last left off. This was followed by laughs and applause from the intimate crowd at NMC. Stay tuned to Chiefo, these guys have talent.
Ricca Razor Sharp came on stage alone wearing a blazer and a fedora and I was skeptical that he would get swallowed up by the emptiness in the room. I was pleasantly surprised when he hit play on his laptop and started rapping. His beats were simple enough that they didn’t draw from his voice which came through crisp and clear. He performed with a swagger of somebody who had been in the scene for a few years. For the crowd-favorite disco rap “Do you in the 80s” he was joined on stage by his friend Chantel. My favorite track was a rap about Calgary’s 17th Ave, called “Avenue”.
Oh No! Yoko performed at 9:00pm on Wednesday to get things kicked off at the Palomino. Their high pitched vocals and dreamy surf rock vibe is totally west coast and it makes sense that these guys hail from Abbotsford, BC. Stay on the lookout for these recent high school graduates, they are making a name for themselves in Vancouver’s indie scene.
Watermelon Continuing with the surf rock trend, another Vancouver band followed at the Palo and had the whole crowd swinging and swaying to their toned down beachy fuzz pop. Muddled lofi vocals get boring after a while when you can’t make out the lyrics; luckily Watermelon has some super catchy, jangly guitar riffs. For a band that plays such happy upbeat music, it was strange to see them act so sombre. I don’t believe the drummer smiled once. Nevertheless the crowd enjoyed it.
HONHEEHONHEE from Montreal, QC play pop rock with clear, clever vocals and interesting guitar work. I instantly found myself singing along. The musicians keep their high-energy live set entertaining by switching between musical instruments from song to song.
The Antlers I had to huck across downtown Calgary to make it to The Antlers’ headline performance at Republik on 17th Ave. and I was lucky to get in because it was jam-packed. This Brooklyn based band plays progressive indie folk music that is pure beauty. They had the crowd in a trance, and I felt like I was interrupting something when I came in late. The room was decorated with lightning bolts and clouds, a perfect setting for music to console you through a perfect storm.
Boris I was able to catch the last couple songs from Japanese experimental rock group, Boris performing a secret headlining show at Dicken’s Pub. Their ability to combine droning minimalism with full-on metal sludge is impressive.