By Joel Dryden and Michael Grondin
June 23, 2015
Kick-Off Party – Commonwealth
Sled Island was booted into the stratosphere at last night’s kick-off party at Commonwealth Bar and Stage with a full lineup of diverse bands.
Calgary’s Brushsigns were the first official act to perform at this year’s festival, a charming, melodic trio that welcomed the start of the week with their heart-warming, lo-fi indie-rock downstairs.
Shaani Cage, the dynamic duo of brothers Kaleem and Aleem Khan hit the upstairs stage with a brand new live set of rich, R&B, soul and electronic inspired jams.
Back in the basement, the fast and aggressive Prepared, a collection of Calgary hardcore kids, played their hearts out.
Montreal’s Avec Le Soleil Sortant De Sa Bouche set fire to the main stage with their weird, smooth and jazzy psychedelic rock.
Portland’s Genders made waves with fun, poppy shoegaze, followed by Cousins whose bright, twinkling guitars and garage-rock anthems won over the growing audience.
Then the seductive and strange Orthicon played his unique full sounding electro-pop.
The Courtneys embraced Commonwealth like a warm hug with their sweet pop melodies and catchy hooks, resulting in a great end to the night.
Running up and down the stairs to see all the acts of the night was a reminder of a week-long of running around the city trying to see as many bands as possible. There’s a lot to see, and it’ll be a rush, but well worth it, and at Commonwealth on Tuesday night, a quick glimpse into the fun insanity that will follow was well received. (MG)
Sled Island Film, Danny Says – The Hifi Club
Fifty-odd people slid onto stiff auditorium-style metal chairs at the Hifi Club to catch the Canadian premiere of Danny Says, a biopic surrounding prolific manager Danny Fields. Picturing the screening months prior, when Fields was a confirmed guest, one could imagine the electricity if the man himself had been looming behind the bar, watching his life unfold. His cancellation was a disappointment, considering just how fun it is to listen to the man ramble and rant.
The screening opened with a series of shorts – one, a super 8mm film serving as a music video for Vancouver electro-pop songwriter Mark Mills called Liberate and another tongue-in-cheek eight-minute short by Ten Stenson called Craig, The Loneliest Man in the World, Makes a Friend, Loses a Friend, and Ultimately Learns the Value of Solitude. The film, slowly paced, got big laughs at its eventual payoff.
Once Danny Says started playing, it became pretty evident that the sound system wasn’t going to be able to keep up with the subject of the doc – Fields is a bit of a mutterer and often speaks under his breath, and his voice was hard to make out in points.
Much of the fun of the film comes from getting to look behind the curtain. Fields told a story of how he was trying to hook up Jim Morrison and Nico (of the Velvet Underground) because he felt the groupies Morrison was spending time with were bad for his image. Fields took Morrison to meet Nico, feeling as though Nico was a more appropriate breed of woman.
But Morrison and Nico had zero connection and spent much of the evening staring at the floor in front of them. Fields and Morrison proceeded to take handfuls of drugs, resulting in Morrison jumping naked across the roof of Nico’s house and left Nico crying on the floor. Morrison remained one of the few people who Fields said, “never liked him.”
Fields, of course, went on to become one of the most influential figures in punk music in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, and managed (among others) The Ramones and The Stooges. The film takes an in-depth look at a man who possesses one of the best eyes for talent and yet still proclaims he really doesn’t care for music.
The screening wrapped up with a Skype Q&A call with director Brendan Toller – who is only 28 years old (and looks it). Though Fields did not make the screening, the film was a perfect slot-in for day one of Sled Island – a strong and insightful treasure trove of industry secrets for a festival focused on discovering the unknown. (JD)
AB, Alberta, Avec Le Soleil Sortant de sa Bouche, Brushsigns, Commonwealth, Cousins, Danny Says, Genders, Orthicon, Prepared, Shaani Cage, Sled Island, Sled Island 2015, Sled Island Film, The Courtneys