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Hundred Waters

If the remainder of Sled Island is completely awful (and I really, really doubt it will be), I won’t even care, because of the perfection of Wednesday night’s performances at Central Church in downtown Calgary. 

First up on the roster was Feverfew, an Edmonton group whose gothic fairytale sound, is led by a telltale-harp and chortling vocals straight out of a medieval myth. Lyrics and content were delightfully occult-infused, and the setting of the church really lent to the eeriness.  Though the driving melodies were enchanting and whimsical, and eclectic enough that they could have existed satisfyingly on their own without the aid of additional accompaniment, the second wonderful factor to this band is they do not hold back on the heaviness.  Electronic distortions with maximum droning, as well as both live and electronic drumming, blurred together to create a beautifully tortured monster of sound, in moments, a serene kind of white noise.  The overwhelming texture contrasting with the harp, was a dark and deluded sound to behold, and all the while the members kept their solemn and fixed stares, as if off in other realms, completely unaware of the dark magic they were conjuring.

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Hundred Waters took the stage next.  This up-and-coming band from Florida is a euphoria-inducing blend of folky and electronic sounds, using a variety of traditional instrument samples such as flute, piano and fiddle, alongside elevating electronic beats and textures.  The songs are as complex and well composed as songs get, yet still evocatively innocent and human.  Nicole Miglis’ ethereal voice has the texture of velvet, and her heart stopping scaling of multi-octaved melodies is a sound like rising and falling into baptismal waters of the deep-south.  If you listen closely, there is a very traditional folk structure existing at the core of their songs, something almost gospel, with that sadness that haunts the most timeless of folk tunes.  But this becomes almost unrecognizable when deconstructed by the bands playful experimentation.  Moments of intimacy and quiet communion, contrasted with sweeping, danceable builds, made this performance one of the most moving live sets I have ever seen.  For such amazing sound, their stage presence was so humble, and this made them all the more captivating to watch.  After an amazingly bass-heavy, and danceable version of ‘down from the rafters,’ the band received a standing ovation from the now max-capacity crowd.

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Last, but most certainly not least was Son Lux.  An entirely different sound from the two previous bands, Son Lux immediately dissolved the aura of lingering dreamland bliss and once-again grounded us back into the moment.   With a more minimalist and clean sound then their predecessors, Song Lux writes wonderfully catchy tunes, that are poppy in formula, but otherworldly in their execution and build, with both 80s and 90s electronic and art-rock influences.  I was surprised at how much the sound differed from what I am used to hearing on albums.  With less layering and vocal filtration, the songs had a much more stripped down feel to them that felt authentic and raw, and I think the audience really appreciated this.  There is a distinct urban feeling to Son Flux’s music, influenced no doubt by his residing in both Denver and New York city, a cold sparseness and hard-hitting quality to even the most grooviest tunes.  Nonetheless, the songs were still splendidly moving and catchy and the awareness we were all confined to sitting in and could do very minimal dancing became very apparent during this set.  Ransom, a particularly epic piece of music, was met with much fist pumping and head swaying from both audience and Son Lux himself.

Three amazing and complimentary performances, and in such a perfect and intimate space.  Stay tuned for more Sled-ing to come!