Friday, July 31, 2009

A raucous teenage trio from Browning, MT. playing their own brand of punk, rock-n-roll, and country to the listener's delight. They are tight but not polished and nor should they be; their energy is too raw to harness. Even at their tender young age, these boys write and play songs that would surprise even the most music-snobbish, thirty-something, intellectual hipsters yet they never let the depth of their material interfere with their passion for high-voltage fun and energy-driven, scathing live shows. As if this wasn't outstanding enough on its own merit, they put mighty good use to the cowbell like any bitchin' band should! GODDAMMITBOYHOWDY will leave you more than aurally satisfied and wishing that you were as cool as they are. Don't miss the shining stars of the Hi-Line or their GODDAMMCOWBELL!!! -MT

Ladies, and perhaps gents, we present for your pleasure... Mr. Justin Lawrence Esq. of Hell House Sound. Justin has been placing microphones and turning knobs for Total Fest since our first, back at Jay's in 2002. He's a professional, an enjoyer of Irish whiskey, and used to play bass for Humpy (and a Texan death metal band called Auschwitz). Recently Justin has broadened his Hell House Sound team to include Matt Swofford (of Mahamawaldi fame) and these two gents will be reason that Total Fest sounds so sweet. Applaud him. Stroke his hair. Stay clear of him when he's going between stage and soundboard!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The gents and ladies of Missoula's
El Zombi Gato are more than wee bit on the "aged" side of the spectrum, but rather than detract from their intensity, EZG's age helps them concoct a wicked, noisy powerhouse of a sound, akin to Dead Moon, Radio Birdman, and some midwestern shitrock outfit, like the Pagans.

Part parole officer and part parolee, part tile layer and part coffee roaster, El Zombi Gato parts are old and crusty, but their sound is fresh as a daisy blooming at the dump. EZG combines members of the Oblio Joes, 5 in the Face, thee Hedons, and Sasshole and Missoula Legend, Mike Doerner. Mike's been perfecting a bearing system to overcome friction and finally master the magic of perpetual motion. That's when he's not blowing sax and pounding Wurlitzer in El Zombi Gato.

Now, on to Vera! (this from Total Organizer Milli) A lot of people, gender notwithstanding, are full-on suckers for chick bands, even when they totally suck the big one. Well, let me tell YOU, Mister and Missus, VERA is not a novelty and not just aesthetically pleasing. These girls play their instruments like bonafide rockstars with a 60's garage-ish type vibe but with their own, bigger sound. VERA is a locally grown duo that have already marked their local and national territory: Cyndie, from Spanker and Sharky on git box; and Jenny ("Jenima") Jen, from Sasshole, hittin' the skins. They've been somewhat tagged with being the "Mom Rock" band, and granted, they are both hot mamas and there's a few songs about parenthood. But who said parenthood was cuddly?? There is some serious righteous rage in their self written, well-arranged songs that is mediated only by their melodic, sometimes dischordant, but always harmonious, shared vocal duties. I said "duties." -MT (Editor's note: Vera get props for having a framed Total Fest II Tom Dewar poster on their practice space wall)
Oi Vey--classic street punk at its best! These local boys have been around forever and they keep getting better as if a fine, audio wine. Wicked distorted riffage, throbbing, walking bass, and on-the-spot drum fills with throaty vocals, REPTILE DYSFUNCTION is a fast and furious, (working) class act. A definite throw back to early, safety pin punk, they don't rip off the 77 forefathers like so many other bands do; they are as refreshing as a Pabst stubby at beer-o-clock. REPTILE DYSFUNCTION has an on-stage and musical piss-off attitude that comes natural, unlike the aforementioned identity crisis, work hard to be like so and so "musicians" who only end up looking like d-bags. REPTILE DYSFUNCTION will leave you feeling like you were punched in the a good way. Maximum Rock & Roll loved them, why wouldn't you??--MT

Monday, July 27, 2009

(This from Total Organizer Genna): An eight piece modern Americana outfit, Wartime Blues provides narratives reminiscent of a Steinbeck novel and driving the straight-aways of the Great Plains in an old pickup truck. Featuring haunting cello lines, mandolin, banjo and an occasional saw, these Missoulians tell stories apt to the classic Montana environment. From 24-hour travel plazas and small, tightly knit towns, the Wartime Blues articulate it all.

Continue south on Higgins Avenue and the first shop on the 800 block you'll need to swing by is Rockin' Rudy's Record Heaven. This is the vinyl satellite of the main Rudy's, which is just a skosh further down Higgins on Blaine. Rudy's is the O.G. Missoula record store, and their Record Heaven (821 S. Higgins) has a huge, competitively priced stock. Their world, folk and new release sections run particularly deep. Next door (829 S. Higgins) is Nature Boy, your one-stop store for the new family that wants its landfill footprint to be as light as possible. Nature Boy features all-things nursing, diapering, child carrying, and even features their own line of "Mutha," "Brutha," "Fatha" shirts! Julie and Bryan are looooooong-time Total Fiends. Julie's made our passes for the past 7 years, and Bryan currates the Record Swap! With no storefronts to call home, the fine folks at How's Your Network and Astarna Inc. are no less approachable for your internet needs. Astarna Inc. is a web development company, and Hank and Amy's work can be seen at the site. Incredibly professional, knowledgeable and thoughtful about getting folks the right tool for their needs. How's Your Network is Shane Volumen's business, and he does all things network. Shane's a hell of a guy, and a saavy as hell computer nerd.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Oakland, California's a town with a musical pedigree. From Tower of Power to the Coup, and back over to High on Fire, Brainoil and the Fleshies Oaktown's a powerhouse. Sitting well atop the pile of talent that decides to call the East Bay home is Drunk Horse. Drunk Horse's dynamic, loud rock and roll is the kind of music that you don't hear in crappy punk clubs, unless ... it's Drunk Horse playing. Lyrically, Eli Eckert's words deal with a wide range of themes, from the biblical to the Bach, and back over to (Cormac McCarthy fare like) man's fallibility.

They started their career on Frank Kozik's upstart imprint, Man's Ruin, and released an epic couple of records, Drunk Horse and Tanning Salon/Biblical Proportions, and then moved along to Tee Pee, a New York label with a long history of putting out great bands (like Brian Jonestown Massacre, Logical Nonsense, Witch, etc. etc. etc.).

Somewhere along the line, they hooked up with the Fucking Champs, Cherry Valence and Federation X, played Total Fest I (in 2002) and toured like men posessed. They went to Slovenia. They came home. They put out the Prince covers 7"s on Wantage. Their most recent, 2005's In Tongues, upped the ante for the Drunk Horse deal. It brought their straightforward hard-boogie sound to new levels, and left fans with the record left on perma-repeat for months. Songs like Reformed Asshole and Vatican Shuffle showed that they were erudite dudes who could fucking rock. And then, right around the 10th anniversary of the 'Horse's founding, they began to play a lot less. Cyrus upped his commitment to equally shredding Saviours (Total Fest VII), Eli stepped up his fathering duties, and the Horse came galloping through much less frequently.

Well, that all had to change, and the forces that be at KBGA decided that to commemorate year eight of Total Fest they'd invest in bringing this crew back up to the Treasure State. Total Fest happens August 20-22 in Missoula, Montana at the Badlander/Palace. Drunk Horse will be there.

Friday, July 24, 2009


This from Total Organizer June:
Recently named “Olympia’s New Party Band,” Socks and Sandals is joining the Total Fest lineup for their very first time! This pop punk quartet stays true to their genre with short songs filled with distinct electric organ voiced riffs, up-beat drums, fast guitars and happy yelling. Socks and Sandals shares members with other pop punks from Olympia, Washington such as Chin Up, Meriwether! and the Hail Seizures, and their high energy will surely make you dance your socks and sandals right off your feets. Either that or they’ll make you want to start wearing socks with sandals to be just as cool.

(Ed. note: Socks And Sandals features former Missoulian and Total Organizer Peter "Chin Up" Dolan and more than a couple of rat tails!)

Stream Socks and Sandals' "OKC":

Each year, we ask a handful of our friends (who own businesses) if they'll throw in some money or stuff to help us make Total Fest happen. This year, the Hip Strip is representing hard! Let's take a tour, shall we? Starting with Shakespeare And Company facing the Clark Fork right on the South side of the Higgins Bridge on 3rd. Shakespeare's a wonderfully thorough and knowledgeably-staffed shop with great music, nonfiction, travel books and zines! Next up, Betty's Divine, a local clothing shop for women and men is at 521 S. Higgins. Betty's supports local designers, stocks ethically made clothing and also is packed with good people. Follow Higgins south to 4th and make a right, and on the left hand side is Le Petit Outre, Missoula's first-rate French bakery, coffee, cheese/butter and olive oil shop. Niki subsists on their ham and cheese croissants. Continue around the corner of 4th on Myrtle to the Kettle House, and their tap room/growler fill. Fresh beer, good people, KH has been a Total Fest sponsor for years! Swing back to the east, to the corner of 5th and Higgins and have a cone at the Big Dipper. BD's been offering their parking lot to Total Fest's Saturday Record Swap for the past 6 years! Cross Higgins at 5th and head into Ear Candy Music. John, Marty, Kalen, Adelaide and the crew at Ear Candy know their stuff, and set you up with the Merzbow, Can, or Oneida record you've been dreaming of! Walk north, to the business next door, Edge of the World. EOW's a shop that caters to the active-lifestyle liver. Everything from kayaks, to skate and snow boards, to clothing and etc. Thanks, sponsors.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

This from Total Organizer June:
Seattle, WA’s own Atomic Bride has been confirmed for Total Fest VIII. This rock and roll foursome is fronted by dynamic female Astra (aka Cat-Astra-Phe) and Chris Cool, and supported by members with equally interesting names, including Avtar, Rachy (baby) and Collin Monoxide. The band describes their music as “art-damaged wasteland rock and roll trash” and certainly is reminiscent of punk, surf, and rockabilly sounds. With some ties back to Missoula and as former Total Fest attendees, Atomic Bride will extend the boundaries of their rockin’ grungy music to other stages of the
pacific northwest!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

If Utah were Middle Earth, Le Force's Orc metal would be the soundtrack always playing over the loudspeakers, from Deseret Industries thrift stores, to Maverick gas stations, to the epic sandstone fins of the south and salt flats of the West. It's epic, storytelling stuff, and a hell of a galloping, riffing racket for just two players.

Le Force are vets of Total Fest II, back in 2003, and have been coming to Missoula and Total Fest ever since. They have the rare ability to both conjure comparisons to some of the genre's best (Fucking Champs, Don Caballero) while retaining their own triumpant, uniquely flavored vibe. Among their other accomplishments is being video'd by Total Fest's favorite animator, Andy Smetanka. Oh, and Herb Hogen plays air guitar to 'em. Voila (commence the mind-break):

Thursday, July 16, 2009

If you've ever heard a pdf, you know. They shred! A lot more than a Jpeg. I mean, a jpeg's like a Kramer and a PDF dude, it's like a ... Guild. Or a Gibson Les Paul Gold Top.

Muchas gracias, Señor Greg Twigg! We've got the colorized Damm Total Fest Flier with our final line-up ready to print. Have a gander over at the fine print, and fill in the details. We will continue to update, preview and contextualize here at Thanks for keeping tuned-in.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I like people who like Dune, or who make me think of it, more than I like Dune itself. All the ingenuity and nuance is maintained that way. Two parts Akimbo and one part Ruby Doe, Seattle’s Sandrider is every bit the recipe for bad-ass rock that your spoon licking gluttony should expect. Jon Weisnewski and Nat Damm have been playing together for over a decade, and Jesse Roberts is a seamless addition. The songs ebb from beer raising, vocal-peppered riffs to hair growing, sludge ridden blasts. Guitar driven vocal hooks steer you into a bass and drum-accentuated stupor. All you love about hardcore, metal and good old fashioned fun is harnessed and manipulated into a brutally drawn out and rolling release that is refreshing and familiar. Matt Bayles recently recorded their EP so keep your eyes open.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Say you love satan! I love you mom!" Seems like a wicked combination of expletives, adjectives and other shit's always on deck when somebody's writing about Japanther, whose noise blast sound has grown into its own melodic, punk rock deal over the past three years. In 2009 they sound more like the Beach Boys and the Ramones, versus the Screamers --a band I regularly compared them to when they started. They still like to confront, get in your face, encourage behaviour changing, room-cleaning, swimming, etc. but now they are accomplished songwriters and Japanther's melodies are some of the hummed-est around this household. Start with their Skuffed Up My Huffy LP and then work through the catalog. Stop at Master of Pigeons and spin I-10, head over to Wolfenswan and get your noise-skuzz fill, work back to Operating Manual for Life on Earth and be greeted by the voice of Jimmy Carter. It's an ambitious, eclectic, varied body of work these guys have whipped up in their short career.

And the music's only about 75% of the deal with the band. Every time one turns around, there's a wild audio/video/visual/puppet art blowout going on at the Whitney or at PS122 or in Marfa... or at Art Basel and invariably, Japanther are putting something together with Dan Graham (Don't Trust Anyone Over Thirty) or a handful of other seriously creative types. Japanther played Total Fest I in 2002, and since then they've gone around the world a few times, played hundreds of shows (recently with the Dillinger 4 and Against Me!), but they continue keep Total Fest and Missoula directly on their radar. We love Japanther. They play from their guts, they do what they feel, and they work like mad to make their music and art happen, and on their own terms to boot.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

(This from Total Organizer Lou)
Denver. The Mile High City. Closer than you think. Farther than you’d like. Git Some’s Home Base! This is actually all I can come up with before my brain stops working. So I call Git Some's singer (and Kingdom of Magic guitarist/singer) Luke Fairchild and ask him if I can use an excerpt from a blog they posted before heading to Europe last fall. It goes a little something like this:
“We are gonna spill our guts in ancient cities! We are gonna throw-up blood, chunks, and rock-n-roll on the pretty shoes of all you people! We will cough and hack up filthy, perverted guitar chords! You won’t smell the same as when you showed up to see us! We are gonna put out cigarettes on all the safe comfortable feeling you get when you think about rock; or punk; or metal; or whatever the fuck you kids call it at the moment! We’re gonna blow loads out of our cerebral cocks onto the brains of those that shine so brite! We want you people to fuck under the stars and the trees under the face of the moon; grit your teeth and scream like a panther! Live this day like you fuckin’ mean it! ROCK IT LIKE A FUCKING WOLF!”
… Um … Take that!
Plus, this is what I was going to say anyway.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Minneapolis' Blind Shake make music that makes me think of some of my favorite noise rock bands of the 90s and 00s. Their bassplayerlessness and songwriting makes me think of Federation X at their most economical. If that's a reference that's lost on anyone, I have to withhold apology. Federation X were an against-the-grain (read uncool), powerhouse of a band whose most memorable attributes were the way their two guitars wrapped around each other, their spartan riffs, and the way it was all supported by behemoth, dynamite drumming.

All those same attributes are present in the Blind Shake, and we're pretty sure that the cosmic paths of the two groups somehow never crossed. The Blind Shake
have crossed paths recently with seminal psychedelic boogier, Michael Yonkers. That meeting resulted in a sweet, ultra-limited 12" on the Learning Curve label, to be released at the end of July. Hopefully they have a few of those along with 'em!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

(This from Total Organizer Lou)
If you were lucky enough to catch Rad Touch at last year’s Total Fest, then you know. But, if you missed one of Seattle’s best kept secrets, then let me tell you … Rad Touch is well, Rad! Do yourself a favor and don’t allow the word “Rad” to connote any visions of the 80’s. That’s like comparing Bangkok (my hometown) to Vegas!! It just doesn’t work. But, RT Does! And how! Metal, rock and hardcore mayhem with a sprinkling of tongue-in-cheek (“Hottest Bitch at the Beach” is about a dog and not you ladies!) is what these boys are about. Who else is gonna have you chanting “Shark week”? Get “Touched” and you’ll know who!

(Editor's note: It's nice to see a Seattle band comfortable in flannel.)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

(This from Total Organizer Nicole) The world is not going to end, so we better start doing something. In Missoula, there is no other who works harder to spread the DIY spirit. Through radio, one man bands, pockets full of handmade handbills, word of mouth and hard work, Tyson Ballew has been marching to his own beat for the best cause, for a long time.

His most recent Club Shmed studio recording, Fruit Trees for Cassowaries, is a dynamite, refined example of his earnest folk, pop punk musical persona. Tyson tells true stories of a kid underground, doing what he believes in, believing in what he's doing. This world is full of kids, and he's going to make some honest friends.

Friday, July 3, 2009

This from Total Organizer Neight:
the Blank Its are future primitive just like Lance Mountain. Where other bands went for Total Recall, the Blank Its gave us Westworld, and made other bands want to give us Westworld, who instead gave us Terminator. They blew my mind in 2004 with their first record, and they will infect yours with their infection now.

It seems to me that there used to be be this genre of music called "garage rock," or "thrash punk," and that it has evolved into something else. That something else is pretty cool too... and then there is this band the Blank Its whom I've heard called a "more accessible A Frames," and perhaps that's a bit true, but they are garage rock and the new wave as well... Empty Records and Sweet Rota had released their music and the bands cites "crappy childhoods" as their sole influence.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I'm not sure if there's a punk rock argument akin to the "Beatles or Stones?" question posed by rock and roll, but if there were, I'd like it to be: "Hüsker Dü or Replacements?" Growing up listening to KATS, 94.5 FM, Yakima's classic rock station, I was at least sort of familiar with a Replacements song or two. Somehow they occasionally squeezed Alex Chilton in between More Than a Feelin' and Barracuda. All this to say that I did not grow up with any sort of affinity for the Replacements, and furthermore, still associate them to an unfortunate degree with Bob Seger, Heart and Bad Company. So when I got Hüsker Dü's New Day Rising LP from Ron's Roost, in the fall of 1992, I was blown away. It was a trebly mess of fast, strained punk rock. I thought it was my shitty dorm room hybrid-boom box system, but when I finally got the record running through a decent receiver/speakers, it dawned on me that the band's sound was totally intentional. So, all this to say, in terms of influential-as-hell Minnestota punk bands, I liked Hüsker Dü more. In the past handful of years, I've come around to the fact that the Replacements always deserved way more attention. Thanks for nothing, KATS FM.

Now, uh, I realize this is a long, long introduction for a band from Olympia whose music (just) reminds me a lot of the Replacements stock in trade: earnest and kind of drunk/sloppy, but with an incredible strength and awesome ability for writing a melody. RVIVR is one of those bands whose love of music translates immediately into their stage presence, songs and whole everything. Total Organizer Johnny Fink described them as the kind of "folks who would actually stick around to clean up beer cans after the house show." With Pasties, and ex-Shorebirds folks, one has a hard time going wrong! RVIVR! RVIVR! YES!