Sled Island 2012 Day 4

Saturday was my final day sledding; I was sad for the music to stop but my feet were tired from dancing and my liver was having trouble keeping up. After a free breakfast of scrambled eggs, beans, pulled pork and salsa at the Palomino, I headed over to Market Collective at the Ant Hill building in Kensington to check out some local vendors. Oh No! Yoko was about to perform as I was leaving and I didn’t want to look like a groupie watching them for the third time this weekend so I didn’t hang around.

I ended up back at Broken City in time for Dojo Warhorse, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that Dojo included members of the Dudes who I planned on seeing later tonight at the Plaza. I was lucky to see them play in a much more intimate atmosphere with a couple excellent musicians who aren’t on the Dudes roster. It was a full house atBrokenCity; I guess I stumbled on one ofCalgary’s favorite local bands. The guitarist/vocalist from the Dudes was slaying guitar riffs, and keeping everybody entertained by joking with his friends in the front row. The keyboardist killed it with his soulful voice and up tempo keys. Everything was working. This has to be one of my favorite shows from the weekend.

I was again encouraged to stick around for the secret guest performance following Dojo. Not to be disappointed by two secret guests in a row at my new favorite venue I was skeptical, but at this point I would have jumped off a bridge if Dojo Warhorse was doing it. The secret guest turned out to be Archer’s of Loaf frontman, Eric Bachmann. He arrived without most of his gear, simply a backpack with some harmonicas and guitar picks; the rest had been lost in transit flying over fromChicago. Dojo graciously loaned  him a guitar and amp, and Bachmann picked it up and plucked the shit out of it like he had been playing that guitar for thirty years. Bachmann amazed me with his fingerpicking right off the bat, opening with a killer instrumental, before picking up a harmonica and getting into more indie folk songs. I didn’t want to miss Bonjay to I took off and sped across town to the Olympic Plaza for their 4:00PM set.

I apologize for not having an earlier review from Bonjay’s Thursday show at the HIFI Club and hopefully this one will suffice. Bonjay, a Canadian electronic duo from Tornoto, is singer/songwriter Alanna Stuart, DJ Ian “Pho” Swain, and joined by drummer Kieran for their live shows. The trio heated up the stage with a few high-energy dancehall hits before slowing it down with a couple reggae tracks. Stuart spent the show swirling and shaking across the stage wearing a flowing orange blouse while DJ Pho mixed fat beats to her right and drummer Kieran pounded away on percussion to her right.

As the set was nearing its end Stuart advised she didn’t want to slow down and didn’t want to stop and so the band breezed through the last two songs at 100 beats per minute with no breaths and no breaks. Stuart closed down Bonjay’s phenomenal show with a break neck speed verse, spitting so hard that she collapsed to the stage out of breathe at the end of it.

One-upping Bonjay’s set would be hard to do but that’s exactly what Seattlehip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces planned to do. They hit the Olympic Plaza stage hard with the pounding of their bongo drums and beat machines. Using synchronized hand gestures and auto-tuned lyrics, every song was vastly different from the last.

Until this moment I had only heard their recent hit, “Swerve the Reaping of All That is Worthwhile” so I was familiar with their electronic inspired beats and tongue twisting lyrics, but I think when they played this song it was my least favorite of the set. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, it’s just to say that everything they put together was solid.

I was warned that the Dudes sometimes don’t come out to their own shows. They were definitely there in full force Saturday night at the Olympic Plaza in the rain. Their hit single from 2009 “Girl Police” kicked off the show with a bang and had people rushing from their shaded seats under the surrounding trees to join the splash party on the floor. The Dudes are a true rock band with a soulful-voiced frontman, brilliant bassist, high-energy drummer, and a solid rhythm guitarist. Singer Dan Vacon dedicated a song to his grandfather in the sky, and went on to say that “he is here with us today” and he is the Calgary Tower. Near the end of their set they were joined by Danny from Bend Sinister on keyboard. All in all it was a good performance by a wicked localCalgary band.

Teen Daze is a solo electro gig from Vancouver. I had heard a few of his remixes online and thoroughly enjoyed them, but I can’t say I felt the same about his live set at the Palomino. Maybe it’s hard to get amped up about somebody turning knobs and slapping a laptop, but the bleep bloop bliss he creates in his bedroom sure sounds better to me.

I ditched the Palo and headed to #1 Legion for Andrew W.K.’s Hand-Picked Mega House Party. The thought of the king of party rock choosing his favorite musicians to perform one after another, upstairs and down, all night long, in the biggest indoor venue of the festival is pretty exciting to me. It was pretty exciting to a lot of people; the joint was jumping. I arrived just in time to witness one of the stranger but cooler shows of the festival; that of Aleister X. He was hooded in an embroidered boxer robe, wearing shorts and sandals, face painted, growling goth-rock and moving around the stage like a jumping spider. He rocked hard and people ate it up.

Cherie Lily, aka Ms. Andrew W.K., led the Legion’s evening dance-fitness class with sass, in a performance that was half striptease, half choreographed workout video. She started out in mechanic’s overalls, and by the end of it she had stripped down to her bra and was shaking her money makers all over the place.

Her set winded down and the carpets legion stage was littered with glitter confetti and spilled beer. That was nothing compared to what would happen next.

The anticipation in the room was like everyone was holding a lottery ticket and all had the same first 6 numbers and we were all waiting for the last. We all knew what was coming but didn’t know if it would be as good as we hoped. We were all dead tired and drunk and probably weren’t sure if we were even ready for what was about to happen. I can only translate the next part in point form:

Lights go out. Lights go on. Andrew W.K. is on stage. Lights go on and off a bunch. Everyone is on stage. Way better than Girl Talk. Cherie Lily is thrashing about. Stage diving is normal. Security needs to hold onto W.K.’s keyboard. So many people are on stage. Somebody gets hurt. Another person is taken away in an ambulance. That’s it. Who cares? It was epic.

More photos here.

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