Excitement for Calgary's independent music and arts festival Sled Island is building around the city with the announcement of its initial 2012 headliners Tuesday afternoon.

Big names heading to town during the annual four-day event include Feist, The Hold Steady, Andrew W.K., Archers of Loaf, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Grimes, Timber Timbre and Thurston Moore — best known for his work with Sonic Youth.

Those eight acts are just a handful of the more than 200 musicians, visual artists and comedians expected to take part in the largest multi-venue festival in Western Canada.

'We promise it’s going to be something magical.' — Festival director Lindsay Shedden

Festival director Lindsay Shedden says six years on Sled Island is still all about the fans — and that includes the bands themselves.

"This festival is really special," she said, describing how the artists run from venue to venue just like the fans.

‘Tons of surprises to come,’ says festival director

Shedden said it’s a calling card for the city, and looks to embrace the spirit of the Calgary music scene.


Festival director Lindsay Shedden said Sled Island is a special festival because it is driven by the fans, not the industry. (CBC)

She said it is often a launching pad for up-and-coming bands, but it also brings in some international acts or Calgary talent that hit it big — like Feist.  

She will be headlining the festival’s main outdoor stage at Olympic Plaza on June 22 along with Timber Timbre. The next night will feature The Hold Steady and Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks. The outdoor venue is all ages, but also fully-licensed.

Performer Andrew W.K. will be joining Calgary indie troubadour Danny Vacon, who has been involved in the local music scene for the past 15 years. He has toured around the world with several projects, including The Dudes, Dojo Workhorse and most recently HighKicks.

He said there are many great things about the festival, but mostly how it helps promote the local music scene.

"Calgarians felt small and everyone seemed to have that grass is greener syndrome," he said. "We lost a lot of great artists to Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

Sled Island runs from June 20-23 at more than 30 venues sprinkled around the city. More details are available in the festival’s newly-launched website.

"There are tons of surprises to come," said Shedden. "We promise it’s going to be something magical."