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photos by Zach Pollack; words by Parker Langvardt
Boris / Russian Circles at Dickens, Sled Island 6/20/201
The sixth annual Sled Island festival is in full swing, happening at over 40 venues (and makeshift venues) all over Calgary, Alberta. Aircraft problems delayed our arrival till early evening on Wednesday, with barely enough time to check in to the hotel and the festival before heading over to Dickens for a Sargent House Records centric show.
Calgary metal outfit The Weir opened the sold out show with slow, sludgy doom, complete with growled vocals, dissonant riffing, and droning ambience.
Next up was Barrie, Ontario hard rock duo Indian Handcrafts who opened their set with a spoken word sample over slow, clean guitar. Then fast drumming came in, sending them into them into the heavy, distorted stoner rock of "Starcraft.". The band bantered about their hometown, causing audience members to yell that they had family there. Drummer Brandyn Aikins responded, "That's what everyone says," and proceeded to say, "My cousin's from there!" in a goofy, redneck Cookie Monster voice. Guitarist Daniel Allen then looked at Aikins and said, "Whistle!" and the pair began whistling to open "Centauri Teenage Riot." A split second before the song started, someone yelled, "Get a theremin!" and Allen responded, "No money!" right as they launched into the pulverizing main riff. Later on in the set, they were joined by a guest vocalist to cover Nirvana's "Negative Creep." They followed with the quick, punk-ish "Terminal Horse," which is featured in the promo video for their upcoming album, Civil Disobedience For Losers.
Belfast, Ireland instrumental rockers And So I Watch You From Afar delivered a positive and energetic performance. They opened with "BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION," which covers a broad spectrum of the band's styles -- crashing chords, tight, fast guitar melodies, and chill melodious sections. They opened with "Gang (starting never stopping)," following that with two songs from their EP Letters, "S is for Salamander" and "D is for Django the Bastard." ASIWYFA won't be there when the Russian Circles/Chelsea Wolfe/Marriages tour hits NYC at Highline Ballroom (8/18), but they play their own NYC show on July 27 at The Studio at Webster Hall. Tickets for that show are on sale now.
Chicago instrumentalists Russian Circles began with "309," blasting through the supercharged intro riff with several dramatic mood swings. Drummer Dave Turncrantz broke into the final, heaviest section before falling into the floor tom-based intro of "Harper Lewis," rather than the outro of "309." He occasionally added exaggerated rests in songs to play with the audience's expectation of their otherwise fairly precise representation of their recorded music. They followed with "Geneva," which is highlighted by a serpentine bassline that guitarist Mike Sullivan compliments with a bizarre Middle Eastern-like countermelody. The band then busted through the angular and twisting "Youngblood," kept up the momentum with their classic "Death Rides a Horse," and closed the show with "Mladek."
The night ended with a secret headlining set from Japanese rockers Boris, who played a publicized Sled Island show the next night (6/21) where they played their droning, psychedelic one-song album Feedbacker in its entirety. Boris have also added another Sled Island show at The Distillery tonight (6/22) with Banff, Alberta trio Lost.Book.Found, followed by the bluesy hard rock of Edmonton, Alberta's Black Mastiff, and the Vancouver progressive metal band Ancients.
Sled Island continues through Saturday, June 23 and more BV coverage of the fest is to come. More pictures from Wednesday night are below.
And So I Watch You From Afar