Slam Festival gives us one hell of an anti-cowboy party to round off Stampede season in Calgary. The Big Slam, the second and quite possibly biggest event of the summer-long festivities hosted by Slam Festival, saw fans of everything from music, to action sports, to beer converge upon the Brewery Flats in Inglewood.

Beer aficionados were treated to a plethora of great brews: Cold Garden and Dandy, located across the street from the event, walked over with their summer staples.

“One Summer in Saskatoon” from Cold Garden is a great Farmhouse style Saison, making use of fresh Saskatoon berries and a Belgian yeast backbone that can seem off to some noses, but it makes up for it on your pallet.

Dandy’s “Bright Young Things” is a hopped-up wheat ale that hits you in all the right spots. It’s fresh and clean with just the right amount of bitterness and dry elements to keep you drinking all night. It’s a lot better than their previous attempts at their “Bright Young Things” – this keeps your mouth wanting more.

Wildrose was also on site with its flagship beer “Velvet Fog,” as was Ol’ Beautiful with their “Siren Song Pale Wheat Ale” and its surprisingly sweet yet grassy, sour finish.

Highline was on hand to bring their pale ale “The Dadge,” with cucumber and hazy pine undertones, one of their better contributions to the Calgary beer scene.

To round out the beer gardens, Revival Brewcade was out in full force to pour their crushable “Punched Out IPA,” as was Freehold with their lager “Big Chutes” and its perfect summertime vibe with a clean and grain-heavy finish.

Eighty Eight, Hey Y’All, Secret Barrel, Jameson and Park Distillery we’re also sponsors and heavily poured in the gardens.

To fill that gut of yours, Soul Kitchen, YummiYogls, and Vegan Street were all there to help.

Photo By: Robert Lalonde

The music started with the Calgary iconic Rockin’ 4 Dollar$ and its showcase of local artists covering well-known songs and genres. Redfish Bluefish, High School, School of Rock, Thomas Thomas, Shuffalo, Future Womb and Chained by Mind we’re all on hand to cover everything from Rage Against The Machine to Muse, and they got the crowd plenty bumping for the rest of the night’s music.

Bearings, Living With Lions and Seaway, who are all currently on tour together, saw the pop-punk hungry crowd singing along and ready for more. Seaway hasn’t missed a beat since their breakaway from the hardcore band The Fellowship, always gaining new fans every festival they play. With strong, crowd-friendly hooks, it’s no wonder these guys can easily bring fans of the Warped Tour to emerging festivals like this one.

Sellout, Bad Animal and Whitey Houston all had the crowd jumping and ready for more. Sellout is on the verge of being headline material; they’re hard and fast but accessible to any demographic – a force to be reckoned with and a group that can most definitely go places if they keep at it. If Avril Lavigne had a hard edge and kept the lyrics of “Sk8er Boi” true to life, this is what you would get. Whitey Houston is just as enjoyable as apple pie. If you haven’t had the chance, you should do yourself a favour and see them live. Energy flows from every orifice.

By the time Lagwagon arrived, it was ready to go off on that last bit of energy left from the day full of spectacle. Always great and always tight, Lagwagon truly showed punk is the best fit for festivals and action sports. The crowd was vibrant, something not seen just a few yards over at the Coke Stage.

The DIY spirit was alive and well even with the setup of events, and there’s something to be said for your dog being allowed to rock out alongside all the tall and fleshy counterparts. The sun beaming off the kits was as infectious as the sing-along anthems by every band at Big Slam. It was so reminiscent of the early days of the Warped Tour, when sun-drenched punks took over the racetrack and partied with good tunes, good people, and good memories.

Photo By: Robert Lalonde

On hand to add to the action sports element of the day were skate contests and clinics, including games of R.A.I.L., men’s and women’s competitions, and youth and women’s clinics. Bike polo demonstrations and custom motorbikes and cars from Calgary Cycle City made sure nobody was going to leave without experiencing a full day of activities.

The spirit of surf culture was alive and well, being an event closely tied with the emerging river surf scene here in the city. All this hard work and dedication goes towards starting a big festival under the 10th street bridge that incorporates and adds a surf element that truly puts this festival above the pack.

Photo By: Robert Lalonde

Market Collective kept everyone stylish and Watch It!, Quiksilver, DC, Stance, Saxx, Sailor City Promotions, Calgary Show Services, Surf Anywhere, Spiritleaf, Alberta River Surfing Association, and Green Event Services all helped make this event possible. Slam Festival has something really great going on here, and with events still to come this summer at Commonwealth, Bridgett Bar, The Compound, Stoney Nakoda and Hotel Arts, it would be a shame if you missed out. This was a great day of events under the sun, and here’s looking to other great days still to come.