Virgin Music Festival v. Sled Island

I just saw this note from Sled Island organizer Zak Pashak on Facebook:

Yes, Virgin Fest falls during the last two days of Sled Island. If the goal of starting a festival in Calgary was to bring great bands and musical interest here- then it looks like things are moving that way pretty quickly and we think it’s great. We will do our best to program a festival that is interesting enough to stay relevant regardless of other programming in the city.

If you didn’t hear, grade-A d-bag Richard Branson announced yesterday that he is bringing the Virgin Music festival to Calgary on June 21 and 22, 2008, which happens to fall on the same time slot at next year’s Sled Island.

Sled Island, if you don’t remember, was the music festival held in Calgary for the first time this past summer. It featured an amazing lineup that included The Boredoms, Cat Power, Spoon, Destroyer, The Walkmen, Miracle Fortress, Montag, Chad VanGaalen, Mates of State, Les Savy Fav, The Constantines. It also featured a host of amazing local bands like Woodpigeon, Azeda Booth, The Dudes, Neighborhood Council. I was lucky enough to experience both sides of the event, (my band The Square Waves played the Bunnyhill showcase with 9 other bands), and Pashak and company just did an outstanding job without getting major sponsorship from a beer or cigarette manufacturer.

Though it looks bad, I think these these festivals can co-exist; from the lineups of past V-fest, it seems as if they will be catering to a mutually exclusive group of music lovers. For example, the summer the V-fest that was held in Vancouver featured (ugh): My Chemical Romance, The Killers, AFI, Hot Hot Heat, Rise Against, Billy Talent, Mute Math, Metric, and a ton of shitty bands that no one has ever heard of, (but who are “signed” and have “120 000” “friends” on Myspace, who are using Virgin music fest to “launch” their “brand.” I hate those bands).

Toronto V-fest this year was almost as bad, with the headliners being The Killers and The Smashing Pumpkins. The only point of concern was that Toronto scored a few decent acts that might appeal to people who might otherwise go to Sled Island, like Bjork, Interpol, Explosions in the Sky, or even Voxtrot.

The V-fest is going for those people who listen to X-92 or CJAY, whereas Sled will attract those who don’t bother with the radio at all (or, in a bind, will listen to CJSW).

Its hard to say what will happen – it will depend on the lineup of both festivals (the Calgary V-fest lineup is being announced in January). Here’s hoping that Calgarian music fans vote their conscience, attending the locally run and organized festival over sitting in the shade of a 15-story inflatable Molson Canadian beer can, getting wet in Coke sponsored cool-off tents and drinking a $5 bottle of water.

8 thoughts on “Virgin Music Festival v. Sled Island

  1. Whatever, Branson rules and you know it. And any commercial that features a Justice vs. Simian track is radulon in my books.

  2. There is a facebook group to suggest we all send emails to V-fest organizers begging for radiohead in calgary. There has to be a pretty awesome line-up to haul me out there against something as roots as sled island.

  3. we all win… sled island services a portion of virgins market and will bring in acts to please the hipsters, virgin will please a larger constituency – and likely bring some names to fuel the debate

    pashak is arrogant enough to try to compete, and stupid enough to dent his bank account in the attempt, branson well… he is branson

  4. Ohhh… this Clint follows me around (he actually does)… ha ha. Anyways, I just googled my name and saw this. Thanks for the mostly nice words. We’re getting some funding this year so hopefully I won’t have to pay too much if any. I think we’re going to have a great festival. Stay tuned for our announcement in March.


  5. Long live Sled Island! The only dent I see is the one in Clint’s head; There are a lot of us who bought wristbands last year and we are bringing more friends with us this time. I don’t think Virgin will steal the crowds away despite their attempt to usurp the success and trailblazing efforts of Zak & Co. Sled Island had an unbelievable intimate atmosphere and independent quality to it that all the overpriced corporate branding can’t compete with– will Branson let us party at the downtown legion until it gets light out? It’s sort of like Folkfest for the young and nocturnal, and it will be here long after Virgin has gone on and is humping the leg of another economically successful region. Sled Island is Calgary’s own and for that reason, along with many others, I will be wearing my Sled wristband every June until one of us ceases to exist.

  6. Pingback: Sled Island Message Board « The Annotated Everything

  7. so what are you guys going for – the rock vibes of V or the indie of Sled? im really tempted by v for flaming lips

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