Annie-Claude Deschênes with Duchess Says playing at The Palomino during the Sled Island Music Festival, Calgary, June 23, 2016.
© J. Ashley Nixon
The tenth annual edition of Calgary’s Sled Island music festival kicked off this week. Over five days there will be over 250 bands playing plus comedy, art and film events across over 35 venues. Thursday night had both floors of The Palomino reverberating heavily with talent from more than ten performing acts. Upstairs at the pub alongside the 7th Avenue C-train tracks was the Big Fun Festival Presentation featuring The Zorgs, Shattered, Darto, The Avulsions and others. Down in the basement, a crimson lit underground where the Red Witch, from Game of Thrones, would feel comfortably at home, had local Calgary band Burro plus Crosss and Duchess Says from Montreal. Shearing Pinx and Blü Shorts were on stage earlier in this Femme Wave presentation.
Three-piece Burro played out a set on the noisier, experimental rim of psychedelic rock, filled with urban, reverberated feedback from Whitney Ota, who runs the recording label, USSR (Unit Structure Sound Recordings). Guitar-fretted up and over the edge, strong enough to wake up androids from their dreams of electric sheep (shearing).
Crosss, spelt with a triple s, played a heavy metal set with vocals from under the hoodie of songwriter Andy March to get us into the wee hours of a Friday morning marked by the looming news of BREXIT over the pond (the vote in Great Britain to remain or leave the European Union).
Duchess Says closed out the night at The Palomino with a very exciting performance full of heavy, danceable tunes hinting at Kraftwerk, Devo and the B-52’s. The Montreal-based band’s Euro-sounding, electro-punk tunes such as Negative Thoughts and Time to Reiterate slowed down for a moment and Annie-Claude Deschênes cajoled the crowd to crouch down on the floor. Just for a moment mind, as she returned to her Cabaret-like, facial contortions, and craftily catapulted the crowd back up, creating a Moog-mangling mosh-pit at the front of the stage.
Hey, the Brits just voted themselves out of the EU……