Sled Island now even that much more than just a music festival

"Yes, of course, it’s the sounds that get most people into the annual alt culture event — this year’s headliners are another amazing crop, including Shonen Knife, Low, Simply Saucer, Wavves, DJ Quik, Bash and Pop, Flying Lotus and so much … more

But that’s only one part of the picture.

Wanna know what more will be going on during the event, which takes place this year from (officially) Wednesday, June 21 to Sunday, June 25?

Here are five more ways for you to get involved, experience and appreciate all that Sled Island does.

1. Comedy: The funny has always been an element of Sled Island, going back to year No. 1 when SNL alum/Portlandia star Fred Armisen baffled just about everyone in the room with a set that has been described as everything from, “Heh,” and, “Well, um, that was odd,” to, “What the fuck just happened?” But more often than not, there are enough ha-has to be had to have you coming back for more. This year, once again promises to be a good one with international, national and local mirthmakers including: New Yorker and former Late Night with Seth Meyers writer Aparna Nancherla; Brent Weinbach, an L.A. writer, comic and actor, who’s appeared at other fests including Seattle’s Bumbershoot, the mighty Coachella and Just for Laughs; and Calgary-born, Loose Moose-trained Levi MacDougall, who now puts laughy stuff in the mouth of Conan O’Brien. All shows are either at the Studio Bell Performance Hall or in the Library of the Nite Owl. Click here for the complete lineup, schedule and to sample some of each of their wares.

2. Art: Another firm fixture at the fest is the visual arts programming, with it being a natural bridging of this city’s remarkably strong, utterly unique and incredibly collaborative and supportive artistic community. Sponsored by the Alberta College of Art + Design, there’s so much to consume, experience and ponder in the 2017 programming, which is spread throughout the fest’s reach in the downtown core and perimeter. A video-based sculptural exhibition that “will physically respond to its tangible surroundings, while functioning in isolation, separate from its immediate environment”? Sure. Check out Calgary artist Anna Semenoff’s Phantom Form at the Marion Nicoll Gallery from Tuesday to Sunday. How about Ejideh: Push it!, which is “a moose hide that interrupts space through Indigenous construction and reverberations” and when “touched, it becomes a decolonial instrument for resonating the Land.” First Nation artist Tsēma Igharas will have her work at the Royal Canadian Legion No. 1 Thursday through Saturday. There’s also the fest fave Sled Island Poster Show, featuring original creations by local artists and designers for acts appearing at the event. The complete list of arts options can be found here.

3. Film: Movies and music go together like pants and Jell-O. That is to say, that one inside the other is a goddamm delight! (That can’t just be me …) Anyhoo, the Sled film series is always a great blend of music documentaries, documentaries about music and music over movies. The slate this year is another winning collection, with highlights such as: the Tuesday Canadian premiere of an event called Videokills — The Explorer Series: Invisible City Symphonies at the Hifi Club, which “combines international short films with original scores performed live by local musicians”; a Wednesday Globe Cinema screening — also a Canadian first — of the U.K. doc Cassette: A Documentary Mixtape, featuring such notable names as Mike Watt, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and Henry Rollins talking about their love and the history of the cassette tape; and a Thursday Globe showing of the classic 1922 silent film Nosferatu, with accompanying score provided live by Sasky psych metal act Shooting Guns. Check out the complete programming here.

4. Sound-Off Summit: A first for the fest, the summit is an industry- and artist-aimed three-day event put on by Music Calgary, with Sled and Alberta Music as partners, and FACTOR ponying up with support. Some of the panels and talks will focus on such things as getting funding in Canada, promotion, music marketing, video production and advice from labels on making your music a little more memorable — there’s also an opportunity for one-on-one mentorship sessions. For the summit, organizers are bringing in reps from labels and management from around the country, as well as local insiders, including promoters and buyers at some of the city’s clubs and festivals. Sound-Off runs from Wednesday to Friday at several Sled venues, and it’s free to every Music Calgary or Alberta Music member, or anyone who has a festival wristband. For a complete list of events, click here.

5. More: Yes. More. Much more. You need more? You got more. More it is then. What more? Well, there’s: a special Sled edition of the Ship & Anchor’s Punk Rock Bingo on Tuesday; some dance by way of the One Yellow Rabbit’s In & Out of Love: A Listening Party to Watch, which will take place Wednesday through Saturday at the Big Secret Theatre and features the company’s beautifulyoungartists physically interpreting music from acts such as City and Colour, Grimes and Amanda Palmer; a badass, all-ages roller derby at Max Bell Arena on Saturday; Sled Island Yoga on the weekend at Central Memorial Park (weather dependent); and, of course, the always community-building free Block Party, which this year takes place on the Saturday in Inglewood and will feature a lineup of musicians curated by the Hifi Club, including Melted Mirror, Jimmy Edgar and Seven Davis Jr., as well as a Steam Whistle beer garden, food trucks and a vintage clothing market. That’s more. Lots more. Look here. Even more. Enjoy more music and more than music at this year’s Sled Island.

Sled Island runs from July 21 to 25 at various locations around Calgary. For a complete list of events, tickets and so much more please click here.

Mike Bell has been covering the Calgary music scene for the past 25 years with publications such as VOX, Fast Forward, the Calgary Sun and, most recently, the Calgary Herald. He is currently the music writer and content editor for Follow him on Twitter/@mrbell_23 or email him at"