I made a mix for GET BENT!
Vibe out on this.
Ketamines’ Paul Lawton is a busy guy, between touring (dates here), the recent release of Spaced Out, and running Mammoth Cave Recording Co. So it’s pretty neat that he found some time to make us a mix of his current favorite Canadian bands. Download the mix here and check out our other guest mixes here.
1. Cousins (Halifax, NS) - Speech - Cousins released this song on a 7” last summer, and I just redescovered it on their brilliant new LP The Palm at the End of the Mind (Saved by Vinyl). Speech was my Summer jam last year, and it is getting me right back in the proverbial mood…
What can we say about this years lineup? It’s as solid as it gets. Not only are THE SPITS, THE REIGNING SOUND, ARCHERS OF LOAF, THE SADIES and so many more of our favourites coming to Calgary, tonnes of Mammoth Cave related bands who we have worked with or WILL BE WORKING WITH (shhh) are coming to town. It’s gonna be the party to end all parties.
Here is the list.
Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet - It’s no secret that we are doing the reissues of all of the Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet records, starting with Savvy Show Stoppers (Pre-Order is immanent!), but they are only playing TWO reunion shows (Calgary and Toronto on July 14). Period. Filling in for Reid Diamond (my bass-guitar hero, may he rest in peace) is Dallas Good from The Sadies. Epic. If you think you don’t know Shadowy Men, you are wrong - they did all the Kids in the Hall music, and Savvy Show Stoppers, Dim The Lights, Chill The Ham, Sport Fishin’ are three all-time Canadian classics. We couldn’t be more excited!
At the same time that Savvy Show Stoppers comes out, we will be releasing Vancouver’s Needles//PIns debut LP “12:34,” which I guarantee you will get EVERYONE STOKED once it comes out. This record is instant classic. So good. Best band. Best bros and lady-bro.
Also, of special note (to us), this Sled Island will be the LAST EVER shows of Edmonton’s The Wicked Awesomes. They’ve been dying a slow death for YEARS, but this is the final nail and we are pleased to help them go out in style. MCR001!!! Best band. Best “bros”.
Also, we have a new 7” coming VERY SOON from FEEL ALRIGHT. They are gonna blow you away with how great they are. SOOOO GOOOD!!!!
THE REST OF THE LIST FOLLOWS HERE:
The Allovers (Garrett from The Famines new band…. SOOO KILLER!!!)
*NOTE: This isn’t edited. I hope you enjoy anyway.
My Sled Island Rules of Engagement:
1) No matter who is playing at Olympic Plaza, I’m probably going to hate it because the further away I am from the musicians, the less I care and the more apt I am to feel disconnected. Just not my thing.
2) Avoid the huge crowds because there are so many good bands to see who are playing to small crowds somewhere else. This is generally where the epiphany moments for me have been in the past. Also, all I can think of in these situations is barring the doors and burning down the buildling, which they tell me is unhealthy thinking.
3) Friends are more important than checklists of “bands you’ve seen.” No exceptions.
The Plan: (Ketamines Set) Then Faux Fur, Wild Nothing, Play Guitar, B-Lines, Jeremy Clarkson, Vicious Cycles
The Reality: Played (WIN) +Dinosaur Feathers, Dum Dum Girls, B-Lines, Grown-Ups, Pierced Arrows
Got into town around 7pm and checked into the too-fancy Palliser-Fairmont downtown. Almost every headlining band stayed here, and it made for some exciting fan-boy moments (Elevator rides with: John Dwyer, Carrie Brownstein, Dave Hernandez, some dudes in SLEEP), and overall added to the grandiosity of the whole festival.
Ketamines had the 10PM opening slot at the Palomino, and from playing Sled Island as a “’local act” every-year since inception (Square Waves, Endangered Ape, Myelin Sheaths, Moby Dicks, Radians, etc), I knew not to get my hopes up for either (A) the headlining band to watch your set (this has happened to me 0 times in five years, and this year was no exception) (B) People watching you. Why would your average show-goer see a local band when there bands playing from far away to get excited about? No hard feelings here, local bands get $100 plus wristbands, and the chance to play the band-lottery (AKA THE BRAIDS STORY!). Except everyone loses the band-lottery, that thing is fucking rigged.
By 9:50 The Palomino was deserted, we were getting ready to practice our stage moves to the bartender and a few stragglers who accidentally wandered in off the street. 10:00 – BOOM! 125 people basically came in all at once. We killed and felt really positive about the set.
Instead of watching the bands following us (Dinosaur Feathers, Crocodiles, neither of whom watched us so fuck ‘em), we abandoned our gear and took off. Jane and I headed to the Distillery to see Dum Dum Girls, but didn’t stay long because it was too hot and crowded (GREAT WHITE!!!), but what I saw sounded cool I suppose. Headed to Broken City to see the last bit of B-Lines, who can do no wrong at this point. Grown-Ups were up next, and Josiah was in full asshole mode which is always fun, except for when he made a joke about the Zak Pashuk’s failed Alderman bid and Pashuk was in the audience… awkward as hell. Aside from the bad case of foot-in-mouth, Grown-Ups sounded good. Also, because I only started watching Friday Night Lights this year, I FINALLY GET IT. Smash my dumbness with that stupid football that was being thrown at people’s heads (ouch).
Pierced Arrows were up next, my first time seeing them live and they did not disappoint, though really how could they? Broken City continues its reign as the best live-music club in Canada, and it was impossible not to feel really privileged watching legends like Fred and Toody Cole in such an intimate and familliar setting.
The Plan: Zola Jesus, Slates, The Nancees, Stressed Out, Quivers, Crocodiles, Wild Nothing, Role Mach, Needles//Pins, Moon Duo, The Intelligence, Dum Dum Girls, Moon Duo.
The Reality: Keep Tidy, Zola Jesus, Slates, Stressed Out (x2), Role Mach, Wild Nothing, Moon Duo, The Intelligence
Keeping with the Sled Island tradition of making elaborate plans and then just being a good-for-nothing bum and yucking it up with pals, Thursday was a party. First, some pals came to our Hotel and helped us assemble Gooeys 7”s and get wasted on “RED” 4Loko, which was followed by a drunken/sobering walk to the artist lounge where they had an open bar for bands and REALLY LOUD DANCE MUSIC which was a real bummer considering that we were just trying to GET DRUNK/pretend we weren’t in a designer clothing store at 3 in the afternoon.
Ryan Grieve and I then decided to try and find some “pool party”, but when we realized it was 100 blocks away, we went to Grown-Ups House-Party where we saw Vancouver’s Keep Tidy who sounded pretty cool and also very “Vancouver.” Some guy rapped for a bit, and it was only from Discorder’s review that I realized that it wasn’t some random partygoer joking around. My good pals Stressed Out played a great set that brought out the police, who surprisingly didn’t shut the whole thing down. They probably should have.
Back at the hotel for a quick nap (money well spent), and we went to see Zola Jesus at Central United Church. What? People were into this? Weird Canada. I got the hell out of there, almost running Lee Ranaldo on the street (see, Lee Ranaldo was definitely not inside watching the Zola Jesus set). I rode my bike over to the New Black to see SLATES absolutely kill to a near-empty room. I caught half the set before getting a text from Jane that I had locked her bike up with my lock and that how was my bike locked up, to which I replied that it wasn’t locked up, but it wasn’t a big deal because no-one was here. Smarts!
Went back with Jane to watch Stressed Out again, and at least this set they played “Shit Safari”, which for the non-Lethbridge people is about all of the terrible bars and clubs in this town and how people make regular efforts to “bar hop” here for some reason. Vancouver friends Role Machwere up next, sounding good, though I realized that my favourite Role Mach sets are when Jarrett gets mad at Patrick, Patrick pretends to be oblivious and the horns and Tom are actually oblivious. See, then Jarrett grinds extra hard on his bass and Patrick gets extra intense in his vocal delivery. Sounding good kids, keep it up. Can’t wait to hear the LP in 2015!
After Role Mach, I met up with my pal Kallen Law and we went over to The Republic to watch Wild Nothing. Kallen spent the whole walk trying to convince me that they were boring, but I JUST HAD TO SEE FOR MYSELF. Went into the Republic and it was claustrophobically-full of people in there, and indeed boring..
Finished the night in an “altered zone” (heh) with Moon Duo and The Intelligence. Moon Duo features Ripley Johnson of Wooden Shjips and Sanae Yamada. They sound pretty much exactly like Wooden Shjips, but without having to haul around a bunch of dudes. Honestly, I haven’t been psyched on the Moon Duo records that I’ve picked up, but I dug the hell out of this set.
The Intelligence went on to play, what I drunkenly tweeted as “the best set I’ve ever seen at #SledIsland.” With a few days reflection, I stand behind that sentiment. Mostly because I’ve listened to those records so many times now, know the songs so well, that I was primed to fall in love. The new lineup, with Dave Alvarez from The Shins and the drummer from Coconut Coolouts are so killer. I loved it. PLUS: they played “Dating Cops” and “Confidence” and “Estate Sales.”
The Plan: The Gooeys, (Ketamines Set), Topless Mongos, Bare Wires, Times New Viking, Shooting Guns, Mode Moderne, Buzzcocks, Slates, Sun Wizard, The Mandates, Fist City, The Intelligence, Duzheknew, Neil Hamburger, Sleep, The Sandwiches, Teenanger, Demon’s Claws, Wild Flag, Crow Eater, Shannon and the Clams, Auld Beak, Chains of Love, Kurt Vile, Sonny and the Sunsets, Crocodiles, Hunx
The Reality: The Gooeys, (Ketamines Set), Topless Mongos, Bare Wires, Times New Viking, Buzzcocks, Fist City, The Intelligence, Timecopz, Indian Wars, Sonny and the Sunsets
First of all, what was I thinking with that plan? Stupidly ambitious.
Frankly, this day is fairly blurred in my head for whatever reason. And by “whatever reason” I meant all the 4Loko we drank. That shit is POISON. Never again.
Friday afternoon was the Mammoth Cave showcase at Broken City. We had a showcase at the 2010 Sled Island, but it was up against MONSTER SHOW at the #1 Legion featuring all your favourite bands dead and alive. So nobody came and it was really depressing. Not even Evan came!
This year was different though. The Gooeys opened, and Craig Storm is fast becoming my favourite frontman. He is such a unique presence, and after every song, he looks over his shoulder and half-shrugs, and you can never tell if it was a “heh, that was ok” shrug or a “heh, that sucked” shrug. I love the hell out of it. Plus The Gooeys are so fucking rad and they sounded SO GOOD! I got really excited and redeemed about putting out their 7” after only seeing them twice. Love them.
Ketamines played next. I was three or four Pilsner Tallboys in (2pm) and so that meant I was drunk enough to want to wear my “shades” on stage (douchey) and rock the hell out. “Hey, lets play the same set as Wednesday, but backwards in case anyone saw us then and we can trick them.” BOOM! We went off. I think. Broken City was full and I had fun. What a concept! Having fun on stage? Ya. Gimmie another Tallboy barkeep.
Topless Mongos played, and even though I’ve seen them already 3 times in June I just can’t get enough. Two guitars, no bass means that the one “issue” with the Mongos live sound is that their guitar tones can sometimes blend a little too much, but this time, Saddler put his guitar through a bass amp, and MAGIC HAPPENED. Loved it.
As Topless Mongos arrived, Bare Wires came rushing in, set up their stuff and off they went with a parade of hits that went for miles. Really happy that I finally got to see them live because I really like Matthew Melton’s records/recordings and live they area really good and played everything I would have wanted to hear. Apache was on drums!
As Bare Wires finished, Times New Viking came rushing in (notice the trend??), and played for like an hour. I saw them open for Guided By Voices in Portland last fall and liked them enough, but either from drunken exhaustion, or from the elation that was the Bare Wires set, I was left cold. I offered to help them set-up, and they just wanted me to get them beer tickets and leave them alone.
A group of us (mainly Ketamines and Role Mach members) left Broken City and made our way towards Olympic Plaza to watch The Buzzcocks, my one and only venture to the mainstage all weekend. I watched them butcher “Orgasm Addict” and decided my time would be better spent having a nap.
I woke groggy and hung-over (7pm) and Jane and I biked over to Twisted Element, “Western Canada’s Largest Gay Bar”, and we watched Fist City absolutely destroy the room, the sonic equivalent of taking an Advil and drinking a litre of water (it made me feel better). The Intelligence followed and it was JUST AS GOOD as the night before. Earlier that evening, I outed myself to Lars Finberg as the guy who wrote the blurb in the Sled Island festival guide as having a “man-crush” on him, and to my surprise he was cool about it and gave me a hug. Hope he didn’t get weirded out by the uncomfortably long time I kept the hug going.
Kept hearing about this “party” with “free food” and “Free drinks”, and that was supposed to feature Timecopz, Indian Wars, Teenanger and Demon’s Claws. Me being the fat alcoholic that I am, I went to this party over sticking around for Wild Flag, probably a mistake.Got there and found that this party was being hosted by my favourite Calgarians Ben and Seth Leon (who are in the amazing two-piece The Jeremy Clarkson). Things seemed to be running behind, but I ate some good sausage, drank some terrible beer (do not love Tankhouse) and saw Timecopz and a bit Indian Wars, both Vancouver bands that never fail to blow me away, this was no exception.
Final stop of the night was at BAMBOO for Sonny and the Sunsets, another one of the hundred Bay Area garage bands at this year’s Sled Island. They were good, but some guy trying desperately to get me to give him money for a beer for some reason made it hard to get into the set. Went over to the Beatroute afterparty, where The Moby Dicks, but I’ll leave that part off the public record.
The Plan: Mandates, Shannon and the Clams, The Jolts, The Sandwiches, Hunx, Dead Ghosts, Jim Ward, Deadhorse, Chad VanGaalen, Timecopz, Mode Moderne, Neil Hamburger, Lab Coast, Feel Alright, Babysitter, Shrapnelles, Intelligence, Oh Sees, Kurt Vile, Teenanger, Wild Flag
The Reality: Mandates, Shannon and the Clams, Hunx, The Sandwiches, Neil Hamburger, Tig Notaro, Brody Stevens, Shrapnelles, Cousins, The Intelligence, Thee Oh Sees
I didn’t even get to sleep until 4am, but I willed myself awake to make it down for the Mandates at Broken City at a punishing 1pm. I really wanted to see them because I like everyone in the band so much, and also because I only saw two songs in Victoria two-weeks prior for Talk’s Cheap garage festival Earthquake Shake that The Moby Dicks played (nay killed) at. Reason: I was hanging out in Macy from Needles//Pins SWEET van that has hardwood floors and Tom Petty tapes, and Tiemen put Mandates on first and super early.
Two songs and two tallboys into the Mandates set I was getting rock n’ roll powerups and Saturday was off to a good start. One question though: how do Mandates already have a 42 song set. I stuck around for Shannon and The Clams and loved them, two of the best singers I’ve heard in a long time. Shannon Shaw also sings backups for Hunx and his Punx, who were similarly great, as funny as I had heard, but the band had a weird vibe where it seemed like they went on stage after a big fight and then played through the rage-fire. Been there too many times, can spot it from a mile away! Ha.
I went over to a deserted Ship and Anchor to watch The Sandwiches play, and I liked them as well, though the lack of audience was clearly having an effect on the band. I tried to talk to one of the members after the show, mostly because we share a label, but somehow I made it awkward and bailed.
AN ASIDE: I don’t know how talking to other bands usually becomes the most painful, wretched experiences all the goddamned time. Sixteen years into doing this, I’m still in awe, excited and fascinated by other bands, how and why they continue to do this stuff against all odds, etc. I always expect that other musicians have this outlook too but this is so rarely the case anymore, and I’m usually met with blank stares and shrugs. In my mind, the worst thing that has happened in music over my time in it isn’t the “death of the music industry” – Sled Island proves that there is still a healthy pulse, if anything. No, the worst thing is how the enthusiasm that was so rampant in my hardcore days has been replaced by the attitude of “I have to pretend to be unfazed by everything and never show enthusiasm because showing enthusiasm is weak and/or uncool or both, so I will pretend that nothing fazes me.” Do you know what the problem with “pretending to be unfazed” by everything is? Eventually, you aren’t pretending anymore and then you are just fucking dead inside and taking up space.
I went back downtown and tried to convince myself to go check out Olympic Plaza again, but I just couldn’t do it. I was Burnt Reynolds, so Kallen and I went over to the Auburn Saloon to see some comedy. This turned out to be EXACTLY THE RIGHT MOVE. I was inspired and reinvigorated, Ryan from the great AM I RIGHT? Podcast/radio show on CJSW was an amazing host, and Brody Stevens, Tig Notaro and the other-worldy Neil Hamburger had me crying with laughter. You know what? This was my first ever stand-up comedy show, but it won’t be my last! I hope this segment of Sled Island continues to develop.
Kallen and I headed back to Broken City with the amazing Kevin J Boyer, and we downed the last 4Loko and got re-buzzed. Broken City was already fucking PACKED, as was to be expected considering Thee Oh Sees were playing. The next four hours were rock and roll heaven, Shrapnelles, Cousins, The Intelligence and Thee Oh Sees all got everyone moving and excited and that was the end of my Sled Island.
Overall: THIS WAS THE BEST YEAR OF SLED ISLAND, even if I missed out on 95% on it. I had a blast, and I hope they continue it for five more years.
Highlights: The Intelligence / The Gooeys / Role Mach / Comedy Showcase
Lowlights: 4 Loko “death hangovers” and weirding out other bands.
5 days to go, which is scary and exciting. I should have been doing a countdown all week, but here we are. Who knew running a three-day travelling festival would be so damn time-consuming? Oh, everyone? Shit.
This is part one of two of the VIDEO MELTDOWN
The next posts will showcase my personal favourite vidZ of the travelling portion of WYRD III.
OUT JUNE 24!!!
MCR 015 - Korean Gut - Your Misery, Our Opinion 7” EP (Debut 7” from this amazing throw-back surf/instrumental jams!!)
MCR 016 - The Gooeys - Scary Black Cherry Nap 7” EP (Debut 7” from this amazing 5 piece - Haunted George fronting the Hanna Barberra house band!)
MCR 017 - Bloodstains Across Ontario (Stretching the very concept of what a 7” can handle!)
June 24 will be the Mammoth Cave showcase at this year’s Sled Island festival! Join us at Broken City and get AFTERNOON DRUNK!! Bands: Topless Mongos, The Gooeys, Ketamines, Bare Wires and Times New Viking!!