By Liv Ingram, June 27 2015 —
The Avulsions, Acronyms, Susan, The Radiation Flowers — Tubby Dog
Because of my aversion to paying a lot of money for something that by its nature should be inherently shitty, I have never eaten at Tubby Dog. I could never bring myself to pay $8 for a hot dog. But since Tubby Dog is a Sled Island venue, I made an exception.
And I’m glad I did, or I would have missed an excellent showcase of Saskatoon bands presented by the city’s community radio station, CFCR. The station presented four of their favourite bands — Acronyms, The Avulsions, Susan and the Radiation Flowers.
The Avulsions’ spaced-out drone rock scored my inaugural Tubby Dog-eating defeat with an understated, melodic set. The small 17th Ave. hot dog shop was filled with folks eager to sample some of Saskatchewan’s best.
Next to the stage was Acronyms. The band’s lush, shoegazey set was defined by dreamy vocals and the guy in the back of the crowd yelling “hot dog!”
Susan kept the show going with their delightful garage rock. Guitarist Josh Rohs was electric as he bounced around singing a collection of quintessential summer anthems.
Closing out the afternoon were the Radiation Flowers, who played a set of wistful, slow-burning psychedelia. Their innovative textural soundscapes created an immersive performance that left me wanting to hear more. Make sure you check out CFCR’s showcase next year, and listen to our own community radio station, CJSW. Trust me, there’s some fantastic music coming out of both Saskatoon and Calgary.
Lab Coast, Yo La Tengo — Flames Central:
Local Calgary powerhouse Lab Coast opened the show, filling the massive venue with their celebrated lo-fi indie-pop. Their introspective and airy vocals topped with saxophone flourishes had couples dancing like it was their first date. An appropriate opener for Yo La Tengo, Lab Coast brought blissful smiles to weary Sled Island attendees.
Yo La Tengo, one of the festival’s most talked about bands, shattered expectations as guitarist Ira Kaplan broke no fewer than three strings in his inspired guitar shredding. With the band rotating instruments throughout the set, their level of musicianship was nothing short of awe-inspiring.
The highlight of the evening came when Kaplan passed his guitar to those of us glued to the front of the stage. One by one fans plucked and mashed the whammy bar, adding their own touch to the set. Having long forgotten the riff to “Smoke on the Water,” I happily strummed and tried my best whammy bar dives before handing the song back over to Kaplan, whose free-flowing energy was an honour to witness firsthand.
The set ended too soon, but the band graciously returned for a two-song encore before sending us back into the world, humbled and amazed. While the show would likely have felt more intimate in a smaller venue, Yo La Tengo has earned the right to stand a bit above the rest of us.
The final full day of Sled is today, and it’s a big one! Post-punk legends Television and local stars Viet Cong are highlights of the marquee Olympic Plaza show, and after that there’s countless shows going on well into the night. So get out there, stay hydrated and enjoy today’s sunny Sled Island!