Wednesday, July 23, 2014


This Sunday, July 27th from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM Missoula's Biga Pizza holds its annual Total Feast
which helps cover costs of making Total Fest all-ages. $12 covers all the pizza and salad you should eat. VFW's providing overflow seating so don't worry about spots to sit.

Total Feast also marks the final day that Total Fest passes can be purchased for $50, after July 27th, pass prices go up to $55.

Friday, July 11, 2014


One of my first experiences hearing KBGA radio was Dirty Flannel, Shramana guitarist Reggie Herbert's Thursday evening show which offers up a heaping serving of doom and gloom. I'll admit, it is quite refreshing to turn on the radio when I'm working around the house on a Thursday night and be like, "Woah, sweet, Weedeater is on the radio." If we're in need of some cilantro or extra quinoa or some other ingredient for a Thursday night's dinner, I will enthusiastically volunteer to go on a grocery run so I can cruise around town to the tunes of Saviours, Inter Arma, Sleep or whatever Reggie happens to be playing during his weekly slot. I find some near-end-of-the-work-week personal joy driving down Higgins, past the line at Big Dipper and families walking their dogs and Chariot strollers, amped up on whatever d-beat hardcore/doom/sludge/black metal awesomeness happens to blasting on the Dirty Flannel playlist.

It's pretty apparent that Shramana's Reggie, Duane and Levi share a passion for all things heavy, from their radio shows and promotion of local punk and metal shows to their involvement playing in Shramana. Firmly rooted in punk rock, they 'get' the Total Fest thing and have certainly struck a chord with many of us around these parts. In past few years since they started playing on local show bills, they've evolved significantly, dialing in their instrumentation and focusing that guttural raw thunder to a finely-tuned gritty, syrupy mix of sludge, hardcore and atmospheric metal. Their recent EP, Toska shows the current direction of this exciting young Missoula band and where they're heading. We're excited to have Shramana on board for Total Fest XIII and look forward to sharing them with our out of town friends.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Fresh off their sophmore release, Fresh Hell, Houston's Omotai is poised to continue shredding ear holes and lacerating flesh for years to come.

Let's pause at Houston. I've only been to Houston twice, and, frankly, I hated it. I'm not a fan of Texas, humidity, or restaurants that reply with "there's no need" when I ask about vegetarian options. That said, Houston is also a funky place. It's like a damp Billings or Calagary in some respects. This is all anecdotal, but the bro-petro-testo-sphere never sat well with me. It's an oddly pretty city, though, with a circular skyline, riverwalk, general spaciness, and those pesky Astros. Admittedly, I carry some hefty baggage when I think about Houston, but Omotai stole our collective hearts when they played Total Fest in 2011.

Spend sometime on the interwebs, and you're bound to come across comparisons to Mastadon, Kylesa, etc., but it's short lived for me. The new album breaks away from the stoner-sludge and injects the metal with some hardcore and thrash elements that help twist their songs into something more tangential and twisted than a point-by-point movement through the compositions. There's so many elements mixed in that you can forget you're listening to the same record. Now that they're a four piece, Omotai find more ways to layer each song, mutating into spacey-prog-thrash-thunder-chunky-melodic metal that translates into serene, mouthwatering, bone rattling, addictive funtasticness.

The only live set I've seen of them was a dizzying mess of technical sorcery. It punches you at the right time, leads you when you need it most, and tramples you in a way only a loving stampede could. Stampede may not be fair. There's more deliberateness than blind ferocity; it's ambitious and raucous, and we're pleased as hell to have them back. Prepare to melt.


Being as omnivorous as Total Fest aspires to be can be a tricky thing because you've got the heavy music dudes for whom the pop, melody and rock and roll is for some weird reason offensive, and the garage nobs who turn nose up at anything not wearing a Levi's jean vest and Ray Bans and a Burger Records shirt, and you know, all the little stuff like that that can bum a guy out. For the most part, however, we really like to think of the average Total Fest attendee like an Adam Noble Bass type. Adam's a Seattlite who has a voracious appetite for music, and I'm sure he's got his favorite stuff, but he's also the kind of guy who can just be straight up stoked about whatever you put in front of him, provided it's done with guts and integrity. Good music has a way of providing some universal language.

So, an announcement like Obnox for us is obviously a pretty special thing because it kind of encapsulates Total Fest's omnivorous vibe in a single, seriously fucking excellent group. Bim Thomas has been playing in great, weird groups for years.  Some of my favorites are the Bassholes and Puffy Aereolas. Here's a decent write up. The music Obnox makes isn't really a fusion deal, no Thai pizza or Italian burrito or whatever. Rather, it's music that comes fully alive with the crud guitar, hard-hit drums, waves of rhythm and certainly some things like hip hop and experimental music, but mostly just one guy's ever changing set of ideas about how to write real music.

I need to credit former KBGA 89.9 FM music director and DJ Dane Hansen for introducing me to Obnox through the playlist at the station, and probably for introducing a burned CDR of about 5 7"s and some records directly into my hand, actually).

Without Dane, no Obnox. Thanks, Dane. Obnox plays Total Fest's opener at the Zootown Arts Community Center on Thursday, August 14.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Rounding out the last couple additions to the Total Fest XIII roster, we're proud to announce that Portland's LORD DYING will be performing this year. With a pedigree that includes TF vets Black Elk and Le Force, this Missoula favorite has turned more than a few heads in the metal scene over the past three years through their superb and frightening live show, seething with intense riffage, relentless headbanging, and fist-pumping goodness.

Last year saw the the release of their debut LP, Summoning the Faithless, and the band has been trekking the country non-stop in support of the release. We're stoked to welcome them back through Missoula and hope you are as well.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


Chemical Lawns, actual live picture. Sweet, right?
The clusterfuck psych punk of Chemical Lawns owes debts to Mike Rep and probably his Quotas, Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Roky Erickson and Billy Gibbons, I think. Something about the name "Chemical Lawns" immediately takes me to the sonic plane of the Moving Sidewalks and 13th Floor Elevators occupied, that kind of a blown-out, mid-tempo late '60s psilocybin Texan vibe.

Members of: Mordecai, Ex-Cocaine, Poor School, Skin Flowers. Some of Missoula's and Butte's I guess, finest. Really had to try hard to not have our headline read: "MY CHEMICAL LAWNMANCE" or "THE CHEMICAL (LAWN) BROTHERS..."  You know, because that's the kind of witty wordplay you deserve, bro.

No internet presence. Playing Total Fest XIII.

Monday, June 30, 2014


Lenguas Largas
Tucson is one of those "It's the water" kinds of places for me, like Olympia and Tumwater, like Bellingham, San Pedro and Missoula. It's kind of a second-tier city in terms of size, but extremely fertile where the excellent underground and punk bands are concerned. Of course I kind of default to some of my all-time favorites like the outsider metal of Last of the Juanitas, and the forlorn country of Miss Lana Rebel, but you've also got The Pork Torta (who describe themselves as like E.S.G. and Thin Lizzy), Swing Ding Amigos (a raging fast Latin punk band) Shark Pants and Lenguas Largas in pretty recent memory. What's kind of special about all those groups is how uniquely they each own a sound. So, I attribute that to a town with something going on, and thus the "it's the water..." quote up there.

Lenguas Largas are the band that's playing Total Fest XIII this August, if that got lost up there. And to say I'm excited about that is kind of underplaying the significance of getting Lenguas Largas onto our bill. This band is one of those deeply-marinated in music sets of lifer musician guys, kind of like the Arrivals (who's new group Treasure Fleet is also playing) a couple of years ago. They just exude great tunes and play with the kind of shared band DNA that only comes with a longer commitment. They're part of the Recess tour with the Underground Railroad to Candyland and Treasure Fleet and White Night. Isaac Reyes from Swing Ding Amigos sings and plays guitar in Lenguas Largas, and he's got one of those super memorable voices and styles, like Todd Congelliere and David Merriman, Isaac Thotz that just helps you have a good day, regardless of what might have happened. I'll be up front for this. (Josh Vanek)