Saturday, August 1, 2015


Guest Blogger: Becky Hensley

Moving to Missoula was a transformative part of who I have become.

I was coming down off some seriously bad vibes from living in a small town in Wyoming and the only answer seemed to be moving to Montana and shacking up with my boyfriend who had moved there months earlier to live with his brother.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was moving to the Volumen house. The first one, actually.And from the moment I pulled my car into the city, packed with everything I could fit in a beat up ’86 Buick Century, life was different.

My gut told me that the boyfriend wasn’t going to pan out, but I stuck it out hoping I’d find a friend or two to help make sense of staying in Missoula.

The Volumen dudes suggested I meet up with Sasshole.
A phone call came in, ”Meet us at Squire’s Pub” - I could hear laughing in the background and for a moment I felt like it might be a prank.
I had heard about these Sasshole ladies and what I had heard scared the living shit out of me.
Stories had filtered through emails from my boyfriend about these women. Kia, Jen & Milli would go harder and faster than anyone else out there. They’d put cigarettes out on your face, drink you under the table…literally, and if you couldn’t keep up…GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE WAY.

Sitting across from them, I was nervous - trying so hard to be cool. They wore chokers, smoked cigarettes, wore ringer tees paired with sparkling vintage jewelry, and swallowed back bottles of beer in such an elegant and effortless way.
They were rebel girls. They encapsulated every part of how I had idealized Riot Grrrl culture and they were immediately the queens of my world.

After our first encounter, I found a home with these weird and wonderful and sometimes fucking terrifying women. They made me laugh, got me into parties, shared their beer with me, and became my very best friends. They supported me to pursue boys and be confident, they didn’t get mad when I puked on their butts or slept on their couches, and whether they knew or not, they enabled me to grow into an empowered woman.
They were passionate about their lives and they lived every moment like it was about to explode.

This passion and insanity plays into every part of what Sasshole is as a band.
Sasshole is silly, horrifying, offensive, dark as fuck, and always irreverent. They never take themselves too seriously, but you can always tell when they’re proud of the arrangements they’ve put together or a song is particularly well crafted. Because that part is important too…but they don’t really care if you know or not.

Kia’s voice is urgent and mewling and it’s sexy as hell. Her stage presence feels a little off beat, but always ends up connecting with the rest of the pieces of the band.

Milli is a force to be reckoned with. Her rock stance on lock, she plays her bass hard and she stares down the audience. Her voice punctuates the places where Kia’s falls away. She’s a powerhouse.

Girl drummers rule and Jen is no exception. She kills it and manages a flourish or two while rocking a serious brown lip and throwing her curls around. She is cute and dangerous and doesn’t have anything to prove.

And although I’ve fan-girl’d the heck out of the ladies of the band, Dave is one of my favorite guitar players in Missoula. He’s serious and deliberate and he shreds. He’s the straight man, literally, to this wiley crew and it’s always a treat to hear Dave shout along with Kia and Milli.

To say Sasshole changed my life would be an intense understatement. 
People talk about the soundtrack of their lives and I can say without a doubt that the music scene of Missoula in the early 2000s was mine.

I tried to use the present tense to talk about Sasshole as a band because in my heart they never broke up. They never took a break for kids or jobs. They’ve always been a band to me. And even after this last show, they still will be.

I’d recommend you not miss their set at Total Fest this year. And don’t be surprised if you end up covered in corn or peanuts or kitty litter.
It’s happened before.

Ladieeees and gentlemen! Preeeesenting: JENNIFER LEAH TACHOVSKY and her band!
Posted by Lee Conway on Saturday, April 30, 2011

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Back when I was a wee lad of eighteen or nineteen years, in about 1992, newly arrived in Missoula, wet behind the proverbial ears and taking my first set of classes at UM, there were a handful of interesting punk and underground bands going in a time that otherwise you couldn't really toss an Oly stubby without hitting a dreadlocked, Birkenstocked, Phish-logo'd New Jersey license-plated Four Runner-drivin' bro 'round here. Luckily, these culturally resistant types were charting their own courses, going against the prevailing grain of the time doing their own thing, irrespective of audience size, whether many folks really cared, money, or whatever else sort of extrinsic gains there might have been.

Bands like the Phantom Imperials, Judy Rosen Parker, VTO, Hughes, Sasshole, The Banned, Honky Sausage, the Jolly Ranchers, the Oblio Joes, and Humpy (etc.) defined my first handful of years in Missoula, and had it not been for them, god knows if I'd have fallen in love with the place like I have. There also was a classically jerry-rigged and decrepit place called Jay's Upstairs that was centrally located, and which regularly hosted all kinds of weird stuff on its stage, including the first two Total Fests.

And as I broadly dismiss these '90s "hippies" I don't want you to think I'm a stunod who doesn't get that the original hippie movement was a countercultural, antiwar outfit with some great music associated with it. I'm just saying there was a particularly annoying set of entitled youths in Dead and Phish wear, primarily, roaming places like Missoula in the 1990s, and their contributions were of a somewhat limited scope. That's all I'm saying. Thankfully, Missoula's always had that kind of counter cultural vibe around, in the early days from the hippies, artists and weirdos, and more recently from artists, musicians, punks and weirdos. But anyways, in those days, there were a lot of folks in love with jam/cover bands and with a kind of Dead breakup hangover, crowding bar stages from Boulder to err... Ballard. And Missoula had its fair share of whatever that deal was.

In the middle of it all, there were some dudes from unlikely zipcodes like Havre and Billings who had located each other at UM and decided that their shared interests in SST bands, Australia's Sheaf Stout beer and noisemaking made them well-positioned to band up. And lo, Humpy was born. Their lore has it that for a while, they had two or three members simultaneously playing guitars and bass through the same cruddy Sunn amp, and used a soup ladle taped to somebody's foot to provide rhythm before they figured out a drummer... who knows how much of that is true, but it makes for good copy, eh? Humpy's music had a least three pretty distinct periods, the first of which was punctuated by the extremely woody bass-tone of Denis O'Brien. That period featured some pretty wild and diverse rock and roll. Occasionally they'd hunker down and knock out a ripper, but the band was very comfortable making its own distinct and varied racket.

Over time, longtime Jay's Upstairs sound reinforcement officer (and former Texas deathmetaler, and Kiss memorabilist) Justin Lawrence became bassist, and Humpy grew into a pretty straightforward, excellent hardcore band, and always played fast. But it didn't start that way. Humpy's done a handful of post-break up shows over the years, but when they brought Denis O'Brien out of the dugout for the Jay's reunion show (organized by Lawrence) a few years back, health problems kept the line up from getting to play live. We at Total Fest sure hope we can reconcile that this year, and are stoked to get to see that very first lineup one more time.

Here's a nice piece about Humpy, and some lyrics from Dave who runs One Base on an Overthrow.

This below may be all you need to know about Humpy:

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Not to be all Wikipedia or anything, but when you tag yourself as "progressive crust," my ear hair perks up. You're willingly throwing yourself into the ring with some of the best bands in the history of the planet, (quibble if you want) Crass, Nausea, Antischism, Neurosis, Disorder, Disrupt, Discharge, Tragedy, Man is the Bastard, Capitalist Casualties, Iron Lung, No Statik, Replica, Exilent, etc. I've obviously dated myself with this list, and, admittedly, this is a shallow list and maybe some of those stretch the genre, but we're not really concerned about that. Crust is one of those mesmerizing genres that even with the weight of consumerism trying to appropriate its aesthetic, the music continually shuns the shackles. Big talk ... maybe. Seriously, fashionistas may adopt the drapery, but there is no way the lifestyle, the ethics, or the music can be easily translated into something that your Screeching Weasel or Katy Perry fan is going to embrace.

At its best, crust serves to keep the rest of the punk rock / DIY community honest. Enter Salt Lake City's Cult Leader. They're brutally honest, unapologetically heavy, and trench-tested dissonant hardcore. Pushing at the boundaries, Cult Leader moves away from the straight up political by turning it inward, allowing for their individual perspectives to do the talking more than the, at times, canned and often repeated slams against an opaque and distant system. As always, it's refreshing the more abrasive it is, openly challenging you to embrace and live the ethics you've chosen. With tracks ranging from around a minute to close to seven minutes, they span the entire crust spectrum. You get it. I know. You wouldn't be looking at this if you didn't. Whatever my family and friends listen to when they throw my ashes into the proverbial wind or off the proverbial cliff, you can bet the aggressive, no-prisoner, oddly pacifist, atheist-in-a-foxhole blend of bands like Cult Leader will be on the playlist.

So that's it. I used a band to massage my ego. Rather than writing while I listened, I strolled down a few soggy / foggy memories of alleys and skateboards, of venues with shoddy doormen, of basement and backyard shows, of friends that I've lost contact with or lost completely, of those bands that lasted a minute or those Wordsworthian bands that didn't end soon enough, of the countless the-world-is-going-to-be-okay-because-we're-still-angry smiles that bands like Cult Leader bring to my face. Why every cynical remark I make is layered with hope. In the end, it's not up to me or you or some blogger to tell you what's up; it's up to the music. Cult Leader shreds, and they aren't about to let you wave some anarcho-banner or flaunt your patches without coaxing you into feeling why reality is worth it, why unhinged anger and frustration have a place, or why we all feel that faint glimmer of hope when music offers you the potential that everything cannot be commodified. Thanks for shattering our shackles, Cult Leader.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Bob Marshall's dank pizza place.
It's the final year of Total Fest and that also means that yes, it's time to announce our final Total Feast. This is something we've come to look forward to every year. It's a time where we partner with one of our most stalwart supporters, Biga Pizza, and go nutz with an all-out all-you-can-handle pizza buffet. This year, all that pizza sets you back $12 and it runs from 5pm to 8pm. Know that a big portion of those proceeds goes towards making this last best fest something to remember. We're still a non-profit, volunteer-run enterprise so we rely on fun events like this to pay all those bands you can't wait to see.

Biga is one of our (and Missoula's) favorite restaurants in town. The place is run by Volumen and Bavon and Egg member Bob Marshall and he's been tossing brick-oven-pizza for years now. The menu has some pretty creative topping choices (the Flathead cherries, the marscapone, all so so good) but they're just as solid with your regular sausage, pepperoni, and cheese. There's always been a few gluten-free pizzas popped out for you celiacs and there will be plenty of salad for all you Yoga instructors.  We love Biga and we're extra super totally elated to be doing this again, even for the last time.

To reiterate: TOTAL FEAST runs from 5pm to 8pm on Sunday, August 9th and like I mentioned earlier, it's only $12 for all-you-eat pizza and salad. PBR is available as well as Biga's regular beverage menu. The Ole Beck VFW Post #209 is available next door for overflow seating and booze-drinks for the 21+ set. This event is 100% FAMILY FRIENDLY and we can't wait to see you there.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


My introduction to Black Cobra's music in any real way is thanks to the Total Fest Record Swap.

That's our Saturday fandango at Big Dipper Ice Cream on Higgins curated by Bryan Ramirez and which features amazingly delicious and hugely gratis iced coffee from Black Coffee Roasting Co. Typically, there's around ten or fifteen folks with anywhere from 25 to a few hundred LPs and other formats they're looking to offload at low, low (Lolo) prices. I'd read a fair amount and heard of Black Cobra, and they even canceled last minute with Torche on a house show at Niki's old place on Front Street. To be fair, this was probably 2004ish, I think it probably was a thirteen hour drive from their starting point to the show, and the show might have paid each band $63. So, really, it's water under the bridge at this point, dudes. #WUTB.

This just got into a weird tangent. All of it in good fun. Back to the seriousness: So, I'd heard of this Black Cobra band. A two piece with a huge sound. Playing metal. Big sound. Great band. But I hadn't picked any recordings up. So it was a Total Fest Record Swap. Maybe six years back now, and somebody showed me their pile of records. Among the stack was Black Cobra's "Feather and Stone." I picked it up for six bucks or something, just thinking, I need to check this out further. I remember distinctly the gnarly, feral metal that started filling the room when I first played it. Jason Landrian's guitar tone is so excellent. Unprocessed, gnarly and just right for the songs. It's the kind of tone that once you hear it, you kind of start judging other metal by. I think the only contemporary band that touches it for my money is Megasus.

Between Rafa's drums and Jason's riff's, it's hard to deny the sheer burl that is Black Cobra. And that's why they're playing Total Fest XIV, man. Okay?

Monday, July 20, 2015


If you're the kind of person that enjoys convenience or just the satisfaction that comes from consolidating everything in one place, today is probably the best day of your life. We've put together three mixtapes featuring the majority of our Total Fest lineup for this year. They're not really tapes, we know, but they're streaming online so if that's the kind of the thing that totally floats your proverbial boat then hell, we're here for ya. Each mix is loosely based around a genre or two and we tried to make each one have a sense of flow because, well, half of the Total Fest committee is made up of radio DJs and that's something we care about.

Yeah, we're aware not every band playing Total Fest this year is on the mixes. We'll be posting more stuff like this in the future so no worries, we wanna make everyone part of the party. We'll keep you updated like we always do from this blog. 

Here they be:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Excited for Total Fest but wait to start having fun with us? Don't worry, we like throwing pre-parties or "pre-blasts" a few times a summer, and we're extra-special stoked to tell you about this one. The Ole Beck VFW Post #209 (a Total Fest venue) is hosting California's Shannon & The Clams (themselves Total Fest alumni) this upcoming Sunday, July 19th. If you're unawares as to the kind of music these Clams make, well, it's somewhere between doo-wop, garage, psych, surf, etc. etc. They've got a ton of killer tunes and we just love it when they visit. So so so much fun.

We're feeling pretty special that Shannon & The Clams included Missoula on their summer mini-tour. They're releasing a new LP in September and will be traveling full-on about that time but yeah, it's pretty sweet they wanna stop in in July. Missoula seems to go ape for these Clams and we're right there with you.

Joining Shannon & The Clams are locals Is Okay, Shahs (playing Total Fest this year), and Midnight Hotdog (the first show from Total Fest alumni Adelaide and Mikki of Needlecraft as well as Max Bauerly from Slut River). We're hoping this blast will get you folks in the mood to totally party with us in August.

PERTINENT INFO: Shannon & The Clams, Is Okay, Shahs, and Midnight Hotdog play the Ole Beck VFW Post #209 on Sunday, July 19th at 9pm. Advance tickets are $8 from Ear Candy Music or $9 from Total Fest (there's some fees related to online sales). Tickets on the day of the show are $10 for those 21+ or $15 for those 18-20.