If you asked the average millennial music fan about cultural happenings in Canada, what would you expect to hear? No doubt they’d mention Montreal. The iconic Quebecois city has a rich history and a track record for birthing acts like Arcade Fire, Leonard Cohen, Chromeo, and many more. They may even list Toronto, the city of Drake, Deadmau5, Rush, and Feist. Obviously they would be correct to identify Montreal and Toronto as hubs for Canadian culture. But are they missing anything?
As population and gentrification continue to expand in Calgary, so too does the mountain city’s influence over Canadian sub-culture. With the help of events like the annual Sled Island Festival (in its 12th year starting June 19th), Calgary’s cultural underbelly is exploding onto the national scene. Anybody exploring Calgary’s bustling downtown will encounter a city fallen under the influence of Shoreditch and Williamsburg style hipsterization (is that a word? It is now). With New-American gastropubs, small ethically sourced coffee shops, and hip cocktail bars popping up everywhere, it’s no wonder that Calgary is so often compared to Portland, Oregon.
The epic transformation from Canadian Mountie backwater to vibrant cultural hotbed is largely thanks to the Sled Island Festival. With over 250 bands, rappers, comedians, filmmakers, and artists performing in over 35 venues all over Calgary, this 5-day CMJ-esque celebration of independent art and culture is a must-see for music executives from Canada and beyond. But with so many incredible independent artists and exciting events on offer, where does one even begin? LFI has compiled a list of must-see events for Sled Island 2019. See below for our recommendations.
Guest Curator Julien Baker’s Hauntingly Beautiful Ambient Indie-Folk
Singer-songwriter Julien Baker is the youngest guest curator in Sled Island’s history. Thanks to her, Sled Island 2019’s line up is jam-packed with game-changing artists from Canada and beyond.
This Memphis, TN native’s powerful voice and ambient guitar work are iconic. The content of her relatable and powerful songs tackle trauma, mental health issues, substance abuse, and relationship failure. But Julien Baker isn’t interested in counting her battle scars. Through her haunting and ethereal songwriting, she shows the world how to spin internal conflict and struggle into strength and victory. With two critically acclaimed solo albums already out, and a new collaboration by the name boygenius underway, this indie titan is showing no signs of slowing down. Be sure to catch her set at The Palace Theatre on Saturday, June 22. Doors open at 7 and the show starts at 8.
To buy tickets for Julien Baker at Sled Island, follow this link: https://www.showpass.com/sled-island-presents-julien-baker/
Lo-Fi Jangly Pop with Japanese Breakfast (aka Michelle Zauner)
It’s difficult to describe Japanese Breakfast’s musical style. The amazing one-woman outfit’s (led by Michelle Zauner) sound is somehow deliciously retro and undeniably modern. This pop princesses’ musical aesthetic draws influence from shoegazing acts like Beach House and My Bloody Valentine. It contains splashes of new wave icons like the B-52’s and Cyndi Lauper. Taken together, these influences allowed Japanese Breakfast to take her act from her bedroom to festival stages all over the world. If you’re in need of intoxicatingly jangly indie-pop perfection, check out Japanese Breakfast’s set at #1 Royal Canadian Legion in Calgary. Wednesday, June 19th at 9 pm.
To buy tickets for Japanese Breakfast at Sled Island, follow this link: https://www.showpass.com/sled-island-presents-japanese-breakfast/
Versatile, Heart Wrenching, & Ever Evolving: Torres at Sled Island 2019
Born in Orlando Florida and raised in Georgia, 28-year-old Mackenzie Scott (AKA Torres) is bringing her signature brand of versatile indie rock/ folk/ indie-pop to Calgary. Torres is an artist in constant flux. Since the release of her critically acclaimed self-titled debut album in 2013, fans have witnessed the scope and style of her songwriting change with each new release. But as her sound and style evolve from release to release, one common thread remains between each one: unrelenting honesty. She bares her soul to an audience that finds comfort in her powerful storytelling and robust singing voice. As she switches from delicate synth pop to traditionally instrumented indie rock, her authenticity and willingness to share her inner-demons with an eager audience remain. Be sure to check out her transformative set at Broken City in Calgary at 9 pm on Thursday, June 20th.
To buy tickets for Torres at Sled Island, follow this link: https://www.showpass.com/sled-island-presents-torres/
Sled Island 2019: Putting Talented Women and Calgary on the Map
LFI’s recommended list of must-see Sled Island artists includes only unashamed, unabashed, and incredibly talented women. We love the stories that these lady bosses tell. We love their incredible music and what they are doing for Calgary’s robust and thriving sub-culture. It’s easy to overlook Calgary when thinking about Canadian music and culture. But when events like Sled Island promise to turn this formerly sleepy city into a hotbed for independent art and culture, it’s important to take a closer look and see what Calgary has to offer. For more musings on Canadian arts and culture, be sure to follow along here and on our Instagram @leadingfashioninfluencers.