My wristband is pink and sparkly.
We had to walk a hundred miles out of our way to pick it up from Broken City, because of the stupid train tracks that bisect downtown Calgary. In unfortunate footwear, nonetheless. But finally, wristbands secured and bodies fueled by a nourishing supper of Fresca and Iced Tea from Billy's News on 7th Avenue, we joined the line that was forming alarmingly early up the steps to Central United Church. And there I met my new best friend, whose name escapes me at the moment, but I knew we were destined for BFFness when it became apparent that not only have we attended pretty much all the same concerts in the last few years, but she thought I was 35.
We all ended up sitting together in the very front row, one mere giant step from the foot-high stage, so making new friends also appears conducive to scoring great seats.
Fond of Tigers, a seven-piece, free-form experimental jazz band from Vancouver, were the first band of the night and of Sled Island 3.0. They were pretty amazing to watch - two drummers, a violinist, a guitarist bandleader who got lost in his groove moves, a trumpeter, a bassist, and a keyboardist whose shoes I could have easily stolen after he removed them, that's how close we were.
I guess I had no expectation of Fond of Tigers, as I knew nothing about them previously, but I certainly wasn't expecting their brand of electronic jazz, which favoured the 25 minute song. Very trance-like music it was, but not your dreamy sleepy trance, more the sort of power trance you go into when you are really booting it on the treadmill sometimes. It was the sort of music that allows your thoughts to really fly and I came up with a shitload of great ideas during their set, some of which I actually remember.
Slim Twig, a hiphop rockabilly dude from Toronto, then played a set that had mixed success. He had an awesome quiff and rocked the vest and ultra-skinny jeans look. From his great moves which jerked him around the stage and which included some pretty nimble leaping onto rails and such, it was apparent that he had studied for a while at the James Brown School of Interpretive Dance.
But of course, at this point we were all waiting for Final Fantasy.
From our incredible seats (the best spot I have ever scored at a Final Fantasy concert), I watched with fascination as he set up his gear. Wearing a really great t-shirt which featured a line drawing of a cat on an old-timey bicycle, Owen Pallett was a study in precision as he deftly unfurled wires and neatly placed them just so. He explained, with his excellent diction, that he always like to set up his own gear, because then even if we didn't like the show we couldn't call him lazy.
Nobody called him lazy either. In fact, it appeared that everyone was far too enthralled with his spirited, yet relaxed, performance to call him anything but brilliant. Owen Pallett was charming and witty and brought with him such a sense of fun that it was almost possible to see past his incredible beauty. But glancing around the room, to see every single boy and every single girl gazing with moist mouths slightly open in rapt awe, it's just not possible to overlook the fact that Owen's beauty is an undeniable part of his performance.
I was very glad to hear a set composed mainly of his new songs, performed with playfulness and panache, hand gestures and eye rolling. And when he came back for an encore following the expected standing ovation and asked if there were any requests, he became quite giddy to hear a request that he never usually gets. "I love that song!" he exclaimed and proceeded to demonstrate some samples he had prepared, just in case. And then with the warning "I have to caution you that this song contains positive attitudes toward taxation" he launched joyfully in.
It was a pretty joyful ending to a great first night of Sledding.