The Sled Island festival was in full force in Calgary this weekend, and what a weekend it was. One cloudless sky, dozens of mostly indie, mostly unknown rock and folk bands and forced hot dog consumption make me one happy girl.
You see, there was only a handful of food stands inside the park so I was “forced” to eat a couple of meals at Tubby Dog. The infamous hot dog restaurant on 17th Avenue came to the festival in portable form, so I finally got to sample a lot of their menu.
All right, the one that raises the eyebrows the most first. The Cap’n’s Dog has peanut butter, jelly and Captain Crunch cereal. Jason says he liked it. I don’t like PB but I had a bite. I can see why this dog works, with the sweetness playing against the savoury.
I looved the Sumo with Japanese mayo, wasabi, pickled ginger, and sesame seeds. Sweet, hot, crunchy and all-round delicious. Not for the faint-at-heart.
The basic Tubby Dog (left) is a little alarming to see, piled high with homemade chili, bacon, cheese, onions and mustard, but it’s really good if you’re in a basic meat-lovers’ mood. Make sure you get a fork and knife and lots of napkins.
The A-Bomb (right) is pretty popular too, probably because it’s covered with everyone’s favourite — crushed ketchup chips. Ketchup, mustard, mayo, bacon and a whole whack of squeeze-cheese round it out.
JJ got a Cheetah on the first day with sauerkraut, cheese, mustard, relish. I didn’t get a taste because I was stuffing my face with a Tubby Dog but I’m sure it was good too. However, I did get a shot of his new Tubby Dog button on his too-cool Evan Davis T-shirt.
All the dogs are 1/3 pounds and were going for $6 — about 50 cents more than at their regular location. But I was more than happy to fork that over after I felt the blast of heat the workers in the stand were sweating in.
This was the first year the two-year-old Sled Island had a main stage and it rocked. Friday’s highlights for me were the always-stellar Tegan and Sara and the admittedly hungover, but ridiculously energetic Calgary stalwarts Chixdiggit.
Yo La Tengo lost me with their drawn-out songs, and Broken Social Scene was meh.
Saturday was full of shiny discoveries. With just his voice and classical guitar, Jose Gonzales, a Swedish folk singer of Argentine descent, gave the sunny day a nice start.
Calgary’s Jane Vain & the Dark Matter did a tight four-song set (we wanted more!), and Of Montreal (from Athens, Georgia) gave the most theatrical performance for sure — ie, masked people in silver capes skulking around to catchy pop tunes.
My favourite was Still Flyin’ from San Francisco. I hate their name, but I love their sense of fun. I think there were 15 people on stage, including a xylophonist (he’s wearing the captain’s hat in the photo) and a skinny guy in a red Tshirt and tight shorts whose only task I think was to dance like mad.
I dare you to listen to their ska-influenced songs and NOT feel happy.
I think I spent a total of 16 hours at Sled Island under the sun (I did remember sunscreen), but next year, I’m going to try to get to more of the smaller performances in the week leading up to the main stage. And you should too if you’re in Calgary. This is one of the best music festivals I’ve been to in a long time.
Note to organizers: please add more food vendors, or relax the silly no re-entry rule. I mean, hot dogs are good, but even I shouldn’t have had so many in 48 hours. Thanks.