Wednesday, June 30, 2010

TOTAL TEST UPDATE: GAY BEAST: TONIGHT! ***** TACOCAT: FRIDAY!
Holy jeez a'mighty, the heavy hitters have been coming out of the proverbial woodworkings! Tonight, we've stoked that the mighty Minnesotans in Gay Beast are in town! GB's a wild progressively bent punk the likes of the world hasn't seen since the heyday of weirdo bent punk like Scratch Acid chopped up with Ruins, or something. That show's going on tonight, Wednesday (une 30) at the BSMT at 235 N. 1st, in the basement and excellent locals and Total Fest IX bands Shahs and Fag Rag open. $5 gets one in!

Then, oh man what a week, on Friday (June 30) we've got a serious two-fer of a show. Or maybe a four-fer if we're being technical. Seriously bitching Seattle punks Tacocat come out and bring their catchily ferocious, energetic deal to the Badlander. Tacocat have got Butte-roots and spunk to the gills. It's hard as hell to not have a good time at a freakin' Tacocat show. Billings MT's Budgets share members with Noise Noise Noise, but offer a more garage rock attack than Noise's power pop deal. Good news all around, people. More good news than a truckful of souped up Harleys at Evel Kneivel Days. We'll see you there.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

FREE RANGE PSYCH: WILDILDLIFE

It's time to raise the excite-o-meter flag again. If you've been following the blog you may be a little exhausted from the anticipation you've been feeling since the first band was announced. No matter, time to take a deep breath and brace yourself for the trip-tastic, psycho-blast of Wildildlife. These cats rock. When they confirmed last year, I bought three new pair of boxers so I could make it through their set and that was hardly enough. Experimental, sludgy, drenched in smoke stained soot there's little not to froth about. They mix together some blues and acid rock in a way that reminds me of Black Sabbath rogering Pink Floyd. Throw in some early Buttholes and you may have something to latch onto. But, that's only the tip of the iceberg. This isn't your grandma's stoner rock. Six and Peas Feast are must haves, and you don't want to miss the dreadlocked drum pounding, hair whipping guitar and pop-sludge vocals. Wildildlife provides maniacal, sing-along distortions that will keep your neck hairs trembling for a few days.


SXSW#11: Wildildlife performing at aQ/WFMU showcase from Denman C Anderson on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

THRILLA IN MISSOULA: MUHAMMADALi SET TO BRING THE PAIN

MUHAMMADALi is just one of those bands that get people amped right from the first chord. The energy this Houston, TX band spews into each song is contagious and no matter how cool you think you are it is impossible to stand still. Even the coolest of cool can't help but move their bodies (even if it's just a slight head bob) to the tunes. Their songs are jam packed with so much vigor I feel like I'm losing weight just listening to them.

MUHAMMADALi's catalog consists of one guitar driven song after another and this barrage of songs make for some downright catchy tunes. Combined with the gravel filled vocal styling of John Zambrano MUHAMMADALi reminds me of a steroid injected "Archers of Loaf" or maybe even "Chavez". No doubt their tunes will be ingrained in your brain for a lifetime. Dare I say many of you might just have found your new favorite band at this year's Total Fest.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

WHITE DRUGS STRAIGHT TO YOUR VEIN TOTAL FEST STYLE
My parents can breath a sigh of relief that the White Drugs debut album came out ten years after my sophomore year of high school because that album would have put me straight into juvie. I mean I’m almost thirty years old and still get the urge to bash in a mailbox every time the first note of “Harlem” hits me in the chest.

I have never seen White Drugs live before, but I’ve heard enough of their music on wax to envision what’s in store for us when these Denton, TX boys take the stage. I can imagine a tornado of noise, bashing drums, a frenzy of fuzzed out guitars, beer and possibly some blood. These guys are loud and they WILL make your eardrums feel bad about themselves in the morning but I can’t wait. White Drugs is set to play the Amphetamine Reptile 25th Anniversary Bash and release their second album on the legendary label as well. So uh, get excited!

BACON AND EGG: SIZZLING TOTAL FEST
The dudes of Bacon and Egg are a known quantity in these parts. Chris Bacon's been the president of the Missoula Skatepark Association since it's inception, and helped them raise over a million dollars to build our town's skatepark. Bacon plays keys and yelps in Volumen, and runs our skateshop, Edge of the World, too. Bob Marshall's the man behind the best Pizza in the west, Biga Pizza. Bob's also the drummer in Volumen. They've been in Missoula bands collectively for probably around 30 years.

Bacon and Egg is the band that grew out to the fact that once Volumen practices end, these guys wanted to continue rocking, and work out some of their own songs in the process. It's an excellent drum-machine driven, church keyboard fortified, guitar-blaze, replete with double vocal duties, songs about the malls and dirt bikes of their youths, and a hell of a lot of fun.

Monday, June 21, 2010

TOTAL FEST WELCOMES THE UNNATURAL HELPERS

The past couple of years it seems like Seattle has produced two things, facial hair and dudes with facial hair playing music I can only imagine astronauts listen to when they are going into hyper-slumber on their way to Mars. So you can imagine how refreshing The Unnatural Helpers are to a scene I always associated with all out rock n’ roll, for gods sake Seattle you have fucking Mudhoney! With whip tight drumming and punch-drunk guitar riffs The Unnatural Helpers fuses together no-nonsense, straight to your brain rock tunes. These dudes don’t mess around either; they get to the point with songs clocking in at an average of two-minutes each. Anything longer would seem - well - unnatural.

Dean Whitmore (The Diapers, Intelligence and Welcome) serves as drummer, lead vocalist and primary force behind The Unnatural Helpers surrounding himself with an ever-revolving lineup that has included members of The Lights, Kinski, The Intelligence, Dutchess and the Duke and Idle Times. So half the fun of The Unnatural Helpers playing Total Fest is one can only imagine who will be showing up to play along with Whitmore.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

DERANGED DICTION: IN!
Hot dog, punx ('n drunx), we got us a hoe-down now. Huh? Who let the poser in? Uhhhhhh, yeah... Alright, now back in 1982 Missoula was home to a blasting hardcore group called Deranged Diction. They played desperate, underground hardcore, named their first Missoula-recorded EP No Art, No Cowboys, No Rules and quickly outgrew the town, and moved west. From there they had some lineup changes, and continued to be one of the west's original hardcore groups, trading tapes /corresponding with with skate kids in rural towns, running distros, and fucking shit up for the man.

The band may have been the first to start the bummer trend of the town's regularly hemorrhaging great acts, but we'll save the tedious theorizing for another place... All I know is that last year Deranged Diction reformed to play two shows for their 25th anniversary and for the purpose of finally recording some never-released songs. They re-issued their No Art, No Cowboys record (with the newly recorded old songs) as a double CD for a show last year and I went to the show. My only context was having heard and loved their songs on Matt Svendsen's/Poisoned Candy's Welcome To Montana CD comp from a handful of years ago, and I didn't know exactly what to expect from guys 25 years older. In 1982 I was 8 years old and punk wasn't near my radar.

Long story short it was excellent. There's video from the show below. The songs were great, and the dudes played 'em hard, fast and with guts. My neck hurt the next day, and I had a smile glued onto my face. Say what you will about reunions and reuniting, but getting to see a small piece of history once in a while is a pretty special thing. And its doubly excellent when you live in a town like Missoula where that history's pretty thin. We won't get all watery-eyed and tell you that "without Deranged Diction blah, blah, blah"
but we will say "hey, this is the real deal, it's a rad thing, and we think you'll dig it, man."

Read about them on MRR
Read about them in the Seattle PI blog

Friday, June 18, 2010

THE AX: AXING AUGUST NIGHTS AT TOTAL FEST.
Portland, via the inland northwest two-piece the Ax weild the kind of heavy, spartan bluesy punk rock hammer that Federation X did. Their sounds have got that haunted, far off but present feeling, and combined with loud drums and austere riffs they've got a way of worming into your mind and staying there. It's wild how much their 2009 Whoa! Boat LP, entitled (in a tres 90's sort of way that made me stoked) of Our Queen of Dirt makes me sick for the good old days when a summer never passed without a Fed X/Narrows tour.

Chris Pierce and Adam Jelsing have a worn-in, familiar vibe when they play and Our Queen of Dirt flew way too low on radar for a record of its quality. Let's do something about that, shall we? Wanna sneak preview? Get stageside when the Ax hack into town on July 10 (at the BSMNT in Missoula) with Belt Of Vapor and see what this group's got on offer. It's punk rock with it's own flavor, and the flavor is loud, heavy and good.




Thursday, June 17, 2010

IT'S OFFICIAL: THUG NASTIES ARE PLAYING
It’s safe to say Missoula’s Thug Nasties don’t give a shit whether you like them or not, and that is sincere. These boys play loud, fast and with an irate amount of energy, which always makes me think a fight or even a riot is about to take place right before my eyes. However, every time it’s a super positive atmosphere with a crowd that just
wants to hear some punk rock music and dance, I mean pogo with their buddies. It’s no accident The Thug Nasties have rapidly become one of
Missoula’s mainstays on the local scene. People love to see these guys play so don’t be the one person in town who misses their set at Total Fest.

On a side note: is it me or does Chris Justice look exactly like the dude at the beginning of The Decline of Western Civilization?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

LORDS OF FALCONRY TO BRING PSYCHELIC SONICS
If you’ve been a Missoulian and fan of music whose time in town began or, covered somewhat the 90s, then you know the name Sammy James Adams. Sammy was one of the wild crop of North Dakota transplants who rolled into town after John Fleming, Ear Candy Music (Missoula’s awesome independent record store) proprietor, bassist for the Helltones, Everyday Sinners, Hellgate Stranglers, Oblio Joes, Secret Powers etc. Yeah, so these NoDakkers were a wild bunch. Fast talking, hard partying, and fun as bag of fireworks. Sammy was the drummer for Honky Sausage, who at some point in time decided to become the Fireballs of Freedom. The Balls should need no introduction, but to cover our bases, they were a raucous psychedelic, punk, garage band whose live shows filled Jay’s Upstairs with loud, high speed prairie rock, and spilled into all-night blowout afterparties. Sammy James was the Fireballs’ drummer, and for a band filled with talented dudes, Sammy James’ drum style was hard to top. The guy hits hard, plays fast, and sits more upright on his stool than anyone I’ve ever witnessed. When the Fireballs were on, they were really, really on. And that was about 98.9 percent of the time.

So, now it’s around ten years later and Sammy’s got a new band, interestingly called Lords of Falconry. If you’re familiar with Sammy, that’s not a surprising name. The guy’s a scholar of Masonic cults, numerology, conspiracy and err, the ancient ways. The other half of Lords of Falconry is
Steven Wray Lobdell whose past work includes guitaring with Faust(!), Sufi Mind Game and dozens of other wild psych folks. He’s recorded for the Klangbad, Holy Mountain, Ektro and Holy Mountain labels and lays down some of the bent-est psych this side of Gong. His discography is a who's who of the wildest and best from underground Americans, kraut pioneers and all things in between.

Holy jeez. Lords of Falconry.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

DENY THE DINOSAUR? YES.
Deny the Dinosaur? is one of Missoula's bands that I have and have always had trouble finding words to match the totally jazzed feeling I get when seeing them live. I've been lucky to witness them roll through many punches, breaks and line-ups. Their most current set up takes the cake. They produce well written songs, all currently instrumental with a serious part prog, part punk vibe. They've recently added a new fella, Ralston, to the mix and he's helped add a little something special that perhaps the bands been seeking for some time. J. Lybeck who fingertaps for DTD agreed to take a moment to talk about then band, tacos and the new deal.

Total Fest: Where ya'll from, originally?
J. Lybeck: Two from Great Falls, Chinook, and Victor.
TF: Deny the Dinosaur has been around for how long?
JL: 5 years, maybe even six.
TF: What was happening musically pre- Deny the Dinosaur?
JL: Really bad punk bands, nothing anyone probably remembers. Jarrod was in a band called The Bright Side (GF), Carson was in Mannequin Republic, err...
TF: The band has been on again, off again. What did we miss while you were away?
JL: Traveling, different solo adventures, none of us have been to school so there's no reason there..., girls, exhaustion.
TF: Deny the Dinosaur is tough to pin down genre wise. What get's you dudes excited musically?
JL: We don't really know what genre we fit into... some kind of rock and roll. We listen to a lot of Hip Hop, Prog, Punk so there's influences somewhere in there. We're an amalgamation of different tastes.
TF: Favorite 90s band?
JL: Brian Jonestown Massacre.
TF: Ideal taco?
JL: Ground beef, soft shell (flour), hot sauce, lettuce.
TF: Personal highlight playing music in Missoula?
JL: Opening for the Faint around a year ago at the Other Side. House shows have been our favorite too, though we're not great for neighbors... kinda loud.
TF: Tours?
JL: We've toured small twice, lots of out of town shows.
TF: Highlights of the new addition, the new line-up?
Jordon: We work well together. There's been a change for the better lately. We've played some really stupid music in the past. We're writing well... Ralston plays sax, keyboard, guitar and other odd instruments. He's added a lot.
TF: Beatles, Stones or Who?
JL: Stones. I also really like the Black Lips, the Velvet Underground...
TF: Any band rituals?
JL: We're typically pretty calm pre-show. We drink to calm the nerves, there's not a lot of talking before, quite a few cigarettes get smoked. That's about it... oh and the trailer lights are usually out so not getting pulled over at night coming home from shows is pretty ritual.

In conclusion, Total Fest IX is proud to announce Deny the Dinosaur?
THE LIGHTS: CONFIRMED
With roots in the rolling hills of the inland west, there’s a weird ag land vibe that comes along with the Lights cold, clanky rock and roll. Like they’re from a town that wasn’t close enough to anywhere big that when they got to see shows, they were highlights of the year, and they were remembered. That they live in Seattle now doesn’t really have much bearing on anything, other than the fact that they play most of their shows there. To me, the Lights are Palouse band. Or maybe even a Boise band, which is where they moved after they left home. Not exactly a tactical move, but a move that shows who their people were and where the bands they affiliated with lived. That was back in the 90s, before the Lights, when they were called the Left Coast and when they had a fourth member, Sean Lennon.

The Lights are a band whose songs always have an instant classic kind of feel. It comes from bizarre and insanely sticky lyrics. Rhymes for days, and a cadence, or creep that rock bands just generally aren’t able to pull off. That and the fact that the Lights don’t change up what they do. Ever. They refine it. They make it seem more effortless. They add another tower on the castle.

Three LPs and a handful of EPs in, and after a decade, it doesn’t appear that the Lights are going to do anything but ripen with old age.

BELT OF VAPOR TO BELT TOTAL FEST WITH ITS VAPOR.
Spokane, Washington may be the self-proclaimed capitol of the inland empire of the pacific northwest, but it's a gritty, sprawling town with a set of falls whose past has a direct link with Missoula's glacial lake. When the dam that held that lake back broke, at the end of the last ice age, millions of cubic yards of water went blasting across the broad plain of what's now eastern Washington. The water scrubbed out hollows and valleys, leaving a scabland of exposed basalt in its wake.

Speaking of leaving scablands of exposed basalt in their wake, Belt of Vapor leave plenty of exposed basalt around after they're done playing. The long-standing punk-cum-prog outfit has a sound that's as sprawling and rich as the fertile plains of the Palouse, as starkly beautiful as the scablands and as gritty as the Spokane bus terminal.

They're veterans of Total Fests past, having played first Total Fest V and the VII a few years ago. They've got the sort of three-dudes-who've-done-this-together for a long, long time vibe. It's got a propulsive, enveloping sort or plow to it. I always hear some alot of what I like about Lightning Bolt, with an octavey, played-lead style bass and a hard-hitting drummer. Add the snaking guitar of school teacher and rocker Bob Homburg and I think you've got it. Get belted.


Monday, June 14, 2010

TOTAL TESTS: LAUNCHING TUESDAY JUNE 15 W. LORDS AT THE PALACE LOUNGE, MISSOULA.
This year, as a special lead-in, get-folks-stoked, build-some-momentum sort of a deal, we've got a handful of TOTAL TESTS, shows with some kind of unique Total Fest connection.

The first show is with Louisville, Kentucky's mighty Lords and it happens Tuesday, June 15 at the palace lounge on Broadway in Missoula. I did a show for Lords and Akimbo in 2007 and my jaw is still lying in the alley behind the short-lived MARS show space.

Exaggeration and hyperbole can be excessively used tools in the world of writing about bands, so let me put this as succinctly and honestly as possible: Lords play with a tightness, loudness and band dynamic that one's hard-pressed to find in 2010. It's the kind of music that leaves me with a wide grin, and total ear-ringing, what the fuck just happened kind of euphoria that bands like Karp did. Lords' stuff is a little more blocky, or start-stoppy and with shorter songs, but it's got that same kind of whoa vibe going on. So, come and party with Lords, and check out rad locals Thug Nasties and Velcro Kicks!

By the by: If you like this poster, and we sure do, write to Mathew LaRubio (theantunderground AT yahoo) o pay him to design yours.

Total Test 2010 Lead-In Shows.
-Tuesday, June 15: Lords (Louisville), Thug Nasties (Missoula), Velcro Kicks (Missoula) -the Palace Palace Lounge
-Monday, June 21st- Fugitive Kind, Goddammitboyhowdy, and Birds Mile Home (BSMT, ask around)

Sunday, June 27: Thou (Louisiana), Moloch (England), Bridgebuilder, Judgement Hammer (secret venue, ask around)

-Monday. June 28th- Raw Nerves( PORTLAND), Former Thieves(IOWA), TSMF, and The Graveyard Girlscouts(KALISPELL) -(BSMT Missoula, ask around)

-Friday July 2nd- Tacocat(SEATTLE), The Budgets(BILLINGS), and Secret Powers and Streetlight People at The Badlander

-Saturday, July 4th-Black Wine, Fag Rag, Tyson Ballew -(house show, ask around)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

WARCRY AGREES TO LAY WASTE TO TOTAL FEST IX
Storming out of the rain-swollen gutters of Portland, OR, Warcry is absolutely crushing hardcore from folks who have been around long enough to know how to do it exactly right. Members of Tragedy, Talk Is Poison, Hellshock, etc. take their cues from Discharge's relentless aural assault and bleak world view. With a live show that will leave you feeling like you got nailed in the face with a sledgehammer, Warcry couples their unapologetic and misanthropic lyrics with tunes that would fit right alongside the sounds of a bomb ridden battlefield. While they're certainly not reinventing the wheel, goddamnit they're definitely making it better than anyone else.

Having recently returned stateside from a Brazilian tour and documented over the years by a spread of face-melting releases (seriously, could they have fit any MORE pick slides in there!?!), Warcry will get even the most sullen of punks to pump their fists, bash their heads, and go running for the nearest underground fallout shelter. Nevermind the inevitable apocalypse, I'm more concerned about the wicked bangover I'll have the next day. You've been warned! Photos by Daigo Oliva and Karoline Collins.
VAZ CONFIRMS BEYOND A SHADOWY DOUBT
I could not be more excited to get a chance to see Vaz again. Thundering drums, pulverizing riffs, and an overall feeling that can best be described as "spooky" lays the groundwork for Vaz's gloomy yet relentless songs. Vaz have been around for a while, rising from the smoldering ashes of Fargo's untouchable Hammerhead, and have released several criminally underrated records. "Demonstrations in Micronesia" leaves me feeling like I have finally come across a human settlement after spending the last month trudging through the arctic tundra only to discover that the encampment is actually a remote forensic laboratory full of frozen corpses in varying states of decay. Yup.

Sometime back in 1999 I made my way down to the Black Cat in Washington, DC for a Melvins/Melt Banana show. I got there a little late cause I really didn't care to see whoever the opening band was ("Vaz? Never heard of them, next!"), though I managed to catch the last five songs. I still regret that dumbshit move to this day - walking in there I immediately felt like I was in the greatest melding of a haunted house and punk show ever. And there was something so familiar about the way that guy played drums - holy shit, these are the dudes from HAMMERHEAD!!! It was a few years later that I got the chance to redeem my mistake when, while living in Richmond, VA, I got a call from a friend after I had already gone to bed. "Dude, don't you like that band Vaz? They just showed up at the PRC (defunct anarchist bookstore) - apparently the show they had booked fell through and no one had even heard about it anyway. They're gonna play in a few minutes!" Buttoning my shirt as I flew down the streets on my bike, I made it just in time for Vaz to melt the faces off of the ten or so folks that stayed around. While it was probably a pretty shitty situation from their perspective, that was one of the best shows I have ever been to.

After seeing them for yourselves, I'm sure you'll agree.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


THE INCREDIBLE EDIBLE TODD CONGELLIERE W/ AUDACITY
Where do I even begin. There are a handful of people that have unknowingly played major roles in my life, even if from a distance. Todd Congelliere, in various forms, just so happens to be one of those individuals (so I guess he's partially to blame?). From the time my old high school band drove up to New Jersey all starry-eyed to play a show with F.Y.P. (and the undeniable Grumpies!) that left our young minds splattered all over the walls of the crumbly VFW, to setting up and attending unforgettable basement shows for Toys That Kill on both sides of the country. From the countless phenomenally great releases on his
Recess Records imprint (I SPY, Grumpies, Japanther, Off With Their Heads, The Bananas, not to mention all the recent represses of Screeching Weasel, Queers, Pinhead Gunpowder - where does it end!?!), to dancing wildly to his more recent Underground Railroad to Candyland band's shows that have left me sweaty, exhausted, and anxiously counting down the time till they can next swing through whatever town I'm living in at the moment. Todd's recurring role throughout my life is no accident either - this man has done more for independent punk rock than most of us could ever hope to do or will ever try to.

I tell you all this because I just don't think Todd needs any more of an official intro - he and his various bands (Toys That Kill, Underground Railroad to Candyland, Stoned at Heart) have all graced the stage at numerous Total Fests over the years and let's be honest, who hasn't blasted "Dance My Dunce" at two in the morning, loaded on 40's of Steel Reserve and day-old dumpstered pizza?? Well, maybe not all of us have that in common, but can we at least view it as something to aspire towards? Anywho, we are unabashedly proud to be having Todd Congelliere back to play his own songs at this year's Total Fest IX, backed by fellow San Pedro folks and his favorite local band, Audacity.

Monday, June 7, 2010

TACOCAT CONFIRMS
Here's pieces of a perfect, I-Couldn't-Have-Said-It Better, review of Total Favorites, Tacocat: "Often dismissed as a joke band, Tacocat has surprisingly good pop instincts with a rough, unpolished riot grrrl sound." "...Bikini Kill... that’s who their sound immediately brings to mind. They have a similar lineup (three women and a male guitarist) and sing about personal women’s issues. Bikini Kill, however, saw the personal as political and Tacocat sees the personal as really funny (they’ve got songs about muffin tops, wearing leotards, etc.."

"Tacocat might be the goofy band that plays your party – except they write very catchy songs and don’t let the pop hooks get drowned out by the loud, messy guitar parts. Like The Ramones, most of Tacocat’s songs are around two minutes." "Singer Emily Nokes, whose hair might be the brightest shade of red I’ve ever seen, has a magnetic stage presence and her voice is very melodic. They are a fun band that has zero pretension and doesn’t take themselves too seriously. I think the moment they start, the joke will be over. In the meantime, I’m going to try to catch every upcoming Tacocat show I can."

To read the complete review click here.

NO FI SOUL REBELLION: SHOW US WHAT YOU GOT
Outrageous, Infectious, participatory and undeniably dance-rageous are just a few words that first come to mind when trying to describe this band. Something tells me though, that there are not too many people to whom this band needs introduction or explanation. No Fi Soul Rebellion has played Missoula a whole bunch, they've toured a bunch, self released a bunch of records and has spent a fair amount of a bunch of time blasting you with songs, videos, show announcements, art, etc... via every virtual platform available. Bonus: A few years back, they toured with Presidents of the United States of America, putting them on massive stages in front of massive crowds, which is right where they belong.

If you lived in or passed through Missoula in the early 2000s you had the pleasure of seeing a handful of different versions of NFSR before Mark met and finalized the line-up with his wife Andrea. It's a unique and special opportunity to witness that type of positive growth and transition and how exciting to see them here at Total Fest IX! One of the hardest working, furthest traveling, wildest energy producing, breaking-WAY-into-your-comfort-zone bands to ever form in the Garden City, No Fi Soul Rebellion, welcome home to Missoula, welcome finally... it's been way too long, to Total Fest!

Friday, June 4, 2010

RETURN OF THE EMIGRANT: SQUALORA
I have nothing against Portland. It's a great city, really. There's a reason we refer to it as West Missoula: it represents a horizon for our own growth. It's green, politically charged and maintains a sense of community. There's also another reason why we call it West Missoula. You can't walk down the street without seeing some Missoula transplant or go to some show without feeling like you encounter some pocket of a Jay's time-warp. It's nothing personal against Portland; it's just that its status as a metropolitan center and its location seems to siphon away Missoula's music scene.
Squalora is a prime example. There's no fault in moving on to bigger and better, but it stings when memory is more exciting than the actual. Missoula tries; it does, but I dread when bands start to grow and take full shape. It leads to the question, “When are they leaving?” Larger issues are at play here, but when you find a place you like to call home and the music keeps jumping ship, a little bit of bitter begins to take hold.
Enough of the lament.

Squalora harkens back to the old days of hardcore. Think Born Against, Capitalist Casualties, Citizens Arrest, Infest, Antischism, Dirt, Resist, Mankind?, etc. Ok maybe some aren't that old, but the torch they continue to carry is one that we should all hope isn't extinguished. While pop-punk and garage-punk are easily nike-ified and swooshed into the “Do It” slogan, the angst and rebellion expressed in hardcore is something that continually defies pop-culture's co-optation. Sure that's a little na├»ve, but it's hard to imagine Squalora popping up on Guitar Hero or selling soda. Formerly Ass-End Offend, and, momentarily, Nazgul (not to mention parts of Venal IV and the Anti-Difrancos, among others), Squalora has been shredding ears in one form or another since 1999. With a litany of releases on Poison Candy Records, Wantage USA and Repetitively Futile Records, they froth with the DIY spirit of resistance. The frustration and general pissed nature of the music keeps you on your toes and, like Assuck, cries for you to wield a machete and storm the capital.

The brewing, fermenting bitterness that swells and cries for release in small towns breeds a unique type of anger. In a larger city, there is always someone else already creating an outlet, there are groups of people where you can lose yourself in the collective. In a small town, there is usually no option for release. You either flee or meet the bullshit head on. Squalora chose the latter. So Portland, you can keep your 2 million plus because there's something special that small city angst creates, and we'll continue to proudly identify with our exports.





Thursday, June 3, 2010

REUNION ALERT (CODE BROWN): SASSHOLE!

Back in the '80s, err, I mean '90s, man, there was this mystical place called Jay's. From it issued only goodness and positivity, to it came only the most talented. Blahhh blah blah… I’m always concerned with nostalgia clouding my recollection of some of my absolute favorite Missoula bands, especially when we talk about our reunion acts. I saw Sasshole dozens of time, as did a lot of my err, vintage. Often, I guess, like similarly great bands (Humpy, Oblio Joes, Honky Sausage/the Fireballs of Freedom, VTO, Hughes, the Helltones, and the Hedons, etc.) it was more or less waiting for the of town band I wanted to see more. At some point I reached the important understanding that really good bands can and do from this, our very own town. Sometimes it’s easy to equate a band’s foreigness with goodness, or having some special je ne sais quois, and missing the really good stuff that's right in front of you. I imagine it's called something like "xenophilia"... So, anyway, at some point I started to listen to Sasshole on their own merits. They have John Waters style senses of humor, obsessions with: death, murder, stalking, bodily functions, corndogs, shit, blood and are gifted in the art of late-night-full-on debauched partying.


Sasshole started as a four piece, did a handful of lineup changes with dudes like Andy and Justin from Humpy, and settling on Dave (also from Humpy) Goatboy Parsons. During the eight or so years that Sasshole were active, they did what few Montana bands regularly do and regularly left town. They made friends up and down the west coast, toured in a pet-grooming van, and did a couple tours a year before they essentially broke up around 2004 or so, after introducing another fine Montana punk export, Disgruntled Nation, to the west.


From my fan’s vantage point, the last three years of Sasshole were some of my all-out favorites, bar none. The band had grown from a trashy, barely-holding-it-together-but-charmingly-awesome punk band into songwriters who’d found a unique voice and worked hard at forming it into a gritty and dynamic force. Their shows were fun as hell, the band was good, and their melodies were unique and awesome. I always think about L.A. punk like the Germs and X when I have to describe Sasshole to a newcomer, probably doesn’t do justice to the influence the Moo-La-La catalog, or Sacramento '90s scene had on them, but it’s an alright starting point. Total Fest is pleased as-can-be to announce Sasshole! Be sure to listen to the MP3s that are up on sasshole.net and dig around on places like Terminal Boredom message boards to read up on this wild bunch.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

JULIE AND THE WOLVES: OUI!
June and Julie get it. Less is more, more often than not. These girls, currently living in France, go way back, but have only recently re-connected to write and sing out their pockets full of sweetly simple, sometimes sad, sometimes sassy, songs. They were a band for 3 short weeks before they recorded with Travis Sehorn and released a (totally free) tape. Soon after, they were gone, over seas, to write, play, travel, work and return just in time for Total Fest IX.

Prepare for well-written tunes accompanied by seaside accordion, summery ukulele and extra-lovely harmonia. Julie and the Wolves are on the new side as a band but see them play and suppose they've been at it for years. They're a rad team, playing awesome songs and we're stoked to bring them to you via Total Fest this August. They'll be a perfect match for your record swapping, DIY Bazaar perusing, ice cream eating Saturday afternoon. In my book, they're right up there with Scout, Joanna, Edith, Salt and Pepa.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

TOTAL FEST "PURE COUNTRY GOLD" STYLE
Growing up, the phrase “pure country gold” meant a combination of Wyoming, a 1977 Ford custom pickup, my Dad, an AM radio frequency and a trip to the dump on a Sunday afternoon. However, Portland’s very own Pure Country Gold may have just changed my view on these three words. The duo play blues charged garage rock with a pinch of - wait for it - country. These boys take just as much from The Oblivians as they do from The Flat Duo Jets, but please don’t think of The White Stripes here – Pure Country Gold are way too reckless and loud for the comparison. Trust me you do NOT want to miss their set.