For the past six years, Sled Island has been the meat of Calgary's summer festival sandwich, giving opportunity and inspiration for audiences and artists alike to sink their teeth into. Newcomers to Sled Island, however, may find the larger-than-life festival a bit daunting at first glance.
Most Sled Island veterans, or 'Sledders,' would agree that the festival's summer-night shenanigans create an experience that is hard to find anywhere else -- riding around on a bicycle, bumping into fellow Sledders, soaking in the atmosphere of Calgary's urban streets and stumbling upon bands and artists that you have never heard of. This sense of discovery is the essence of what Sled Island is.
A devoted member of Calgary's music scene Brock Geiger has long been a fan of the festival. The current bass player for The Dudes and former member of Raleigh, Geiger has attended Sled Island as both a performer and a fan.
"The impact Sled has on the music scene lasts longer than five days. The festival really supports local Calgary musicians, so many Sled fans come out to local shows year round and show support," says Geiger. "Not many festivals in town unite Calgary's culture, art and music with such unique camaraderie the way Sled Island does."
When done right, Sledding requires that festival goers keep both their minds and ears open, and remain willing to try new things. With over 200 artists performing, and even more comedians, films and art exhibits, there will be many chances to take in new experiences.
"Sled Island magnifies Calgary's music scene, giving the audience a wider scope of alternative and postmodern rock," says Geiger. "Calgary's art and music scene is really starting to expand, and Sled Island definitely helps the cause."
Besides an open mind, other festival necessities include a bicycle for transportation and a water bottle for hydration. Planning a route or a schedule can help, but sometimes letting the festival take the reigns is the fun part.
"You really don't even need to know what you're doing or where you are going," says Geiger. "If you have a bunch of friends and you hit a couple shows, you are bound to find a couple new artists that you really enjoy."