Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Thunderbroom spiel Mascis Iggy Stooge Asheton Dwyer. California. Uber alles. Double Nickels. The Master's Bedroom.

This is what's happening in Missoula next week. If you're a punk/psych fan, it's fuckin' Christmas. Mike Watt and the Missing Men are rad. And they play Monday October 1st at Zoo City Apparel. Their most recent work is a short-songed ode to a Hieronymus Bosch painting. Seriously. And it's good. Not ponderous or noodling. Succinct and on. Gonna rule. And this week, the guys playing bass for the Stooges in Florence, Italy this week. Mike Watt of course played bass for the Minutemen, a band whose The Punchline record I only continue to grow an appreciation for. They fuckin' Jammed Econo, and wrote the book on being friends, and a band in that order.

Then, on October 2nd thee Oh Sees play with Sic Alps also at Zoo City. Both are good bands. Sic Alps are a washed out blast of who-cares-what-audiences-think psychedelia, with a kind of self-containedness and vibe you don't experience this far out of the '90s, man. The Oh Sees are great. You know 'em. Mostly because of Brigid. Who's Yin gives the band it's yang, or less hippier, whose melodies basically make the stuff sublime. Sorry to be gushy. it's just true. Radical Missoula groups Shahs, back to a two-piece. and Needlecraft, now with a bassist! open.

Tickets for both shows are at Ear Candy and Zoo City Apparel. Both are all-ages. Ye' of fewer years, get out in force, please.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

I guess that could've been a smarmier title, something like "it's ... we just live in it.." but what does that shit mean anyway? Dan Deacon, a dude I consider a friendly, and a friend, just put out a record called simply America. And it's pretty good. Dan's 2007 record, Spiderman of the Rings is ingenious, a Marquee Moon or uh, Into the Vortex career-definer in a lot of ways. This new one is more of a grower, but because of that, it's got a depth that I think's gonna make it last a lot longer as a piece of art. I'm still just working my way around it, which is to say, I think I've listened through the record about two times as a whole, and to different songs a few more times.

I found the statement here, on his website kind of moving. Reminded me of my first real time abroad as a sort-of-adult of 25, heading to a pretty foreign place as a Peace Corps volunteer. You know you're not supposed to tell everybody your country's great and has everything figured out, but you also miss a lot of things about it, and I, personally, hadn't thought of myself as particularly from a country prior to that. And, good, bad and in-between,  I was proud to be an American, a guy from a community that has a lot going for it, has plenty of shit wrong with it, but you've got to be from somewhere. I don't like colonialism, and appreciate the sentiment that in a world as commercial as this one, and country at the forefront of that err, whole deal, it takes a more than minor act of resistance to actively equate one's Americanness with positive things like say: Shat Upon Zine, Humpy, the Fireballs of Freedom, Jay's Upstairs, Zoo City Apparel, the Ole Beck 209 VFW, the Lab, Disgruntled Nation, Ass-End Offend, Hammerhead, Needlecraft, Fugazi, the Missoula Art Museum, the river trail, Minor Bird Records, the Missoula Independent, the Rattlesnake Wilderness, Lightning Bolt, Shahs, fucking Lightning Bolt, Custody Battle and Dan Deacon rather than say, Coca Cola Budweiser, Tom Cruise and whatever other mass culture has got the better budget and is hugely vying for what the world sees as "America." By being an American who can represent a place, it's people, music, culture, food, festivals and all that, I think you kind of hack a little piece out of the commercial neo-colonialism that just creeps out of this place. So, I'm taking a huge leap in equating Dan's album explanation with all this, but it struck a chord. Sure, Pitchfork's fawning and NPR's gonna do a feature, but don't be a hater. The guy's legit, DIY and just made a great piece of art.

I normally go in for rock and punk records, but what I like about a band like Vaz, their visceral crush of energy and power, I also get off a record like this and performance like Dan's the first night of Total Fest XI. I saw Torche guys gleefully pulling Ben from Helms Alee and Harkonen into the sweaty pulse of folks going apeshit and dancing. And that made me stoked. It's also got a pretty couple of pictures of Lake Placid and Bryce Canyon on the record. (Josh V.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Not to be over dramatic or anything, but for three days the world stopped. Total Fest XI was one helluva great time. From the moment that Thursday's BBQ kicked off at Kiwanis, it was apparent that the weekend would be full of good will, laughs, kick ass music, and ... beer.

This is in no way a summary of the weekend and the overwhelming amount of raditude that happened between Thursday and Saturday (we'll have more of that later, and you can catch Josh Vanek's quick hits below). For now, we only want to extend our undying gratitude to the number of people that made this possible. Seriously, Total Fest would be an empty vessel without all of the amazing people that put their time, effort, money, and artistry in to making this happen each year. If you have photos or anecdotes that you'd like to share, hit us up on Facebook.

Thank you to the following:

The Bands:

Abe Coley, Bacon & Egg, The Be Helds, The Best Westerns, Big Eyes, Brain Tumors, Broken Water, Buddy Jackson, Bugs, Buildings, Cousins, Criminal Code, Dan Deacon, Dikes of Holland, Dreamdecay, The Funeral & The Twilight, Gay Witch Abortion, Guantanamo Baywatch, Harkonen, International Playboys, Iron Lung, King Elephant, Lecherous Gaze, Lozen, The Magpies, MjolniirDXP, Needlecraft, No Fi Soul Rebellion, Rock n Roll Adventure Kids, Sandrider, Sedan, Shane Hickey & His Magical Ukele .. and Jerry, Spencer, Swamp Wolf, Tacocat, Tenement, Tidal Horn, Torche, Unnatural Helpers, VTO, Walls, White Walls

Our Sponsors:

Andrew Kemmis Photography, Astarna Web Development, Betty's Divine, Big Dipper, Biga Pizza, Black Coffee Roasting Co., Boom Swagger, Burns St. Bistro, Ear Candy Music, Edge of the World, Garage Tees, Garden City Lady Arm Wrestlers, Good Food Store, Hell House Sound, Home Resource,, KBGA, Kent Bros., Kettle House, Le Petit Outre, Missoula Copy Center, Missoula Independent,, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Philly West, Piece of Mind, Razorcake Magazine, Selvedge Studio, Shakespeare & Co., Statriot Designs, The Green Light, Zombie Tools
Our Volunteers:
Sophie Bergum, Ted Cook, Emily Denman, Matt Hogan, Travis Ibey, Keith Moore, Scott Moore, Jesi Noe, Katie Oly, Bryan Ramirez, Jazmine Raymond, PJ Rogalski, Charlie Struna, Elisha Thomas, Julie Tompkins, Jon Van Dyke, Kevin Wright, and the Hellgate Rollergirls: Ali Carlson Kelly, Sarah Christenson, Krissy Frost, Andrea Kuehn, Kari Neal, Aimee Miklovic, and Charlie Struna
Our Helping Hands:
Andy Kemis for the fantastic photography. Matt LaRubio and Ryan Mundt for the awesome poster art. Amanda Browder for the mezmerizing Spelunca, and ZCA, Selvedge studio, and all the people who donated t-shirts and came out for the community sew days. Jenn Tachovsy and Greg Twigg for hosting the BBQs, Jason McMackin & Burns St. Bistro Crew, Tom Dailey, Jonathon Richter, and Wes St. John for helping to prepare, transport and sling the food stuffs. Brian Ramirez for organizing the Record Swap, and Jon Thomas for running sound in the hot sun. Last, but not least, all the kind folks who opened their doors to provide housing for the bands.
The Venues:
Chris & the Zoo City Apparel Crew, Nicole & The Top Hat Staff, Shawna & the VFW staff, Charlie and the Big Dipper, and Colin, Tish, Andrew & the Badlander / Palace Staff. Jenny and the Central.
The Organizing Committee:
Lou Beard, Paul Hansbarger, Josh Harteis, Marty Hill, Niki Vanek, Josh Vanek, Colin Johnson, Travis Morss, Greg Ragan, Kevin Sherwood, Erin Sipe, Kari Workman

and, You!  

See you next year.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sorry about taking the profanity gloves off you know, hopefully that's not alienating the all-agers and parents. I honestly only mean it for the emphasis, and not offensively. Here's the deal though: what a freakin' blast of a weekend. From Dan Deacon and the Best Westerns to Iron Lung, Gay Witch Abortion, Sedan to I don't know, Harkonen, we got slayed by great tunes, hugged by great friends and blew our cash on a pretty good pile of records we're only just getting into. Here are my (Josh Vanek's) in no way all-inclusive just-fest highlights:

1) Meeting Brain Tumors at the Thursday barbecue while Bryan Ramirez played noise rock and I had a cold Eddy Out from TF sponsors Kettlehouse. Nicest, shittiestly blown out and blasting band of Total Fest.
2) King Elephant. First band of the fest and they cranked out forlorn, high energy punk full-on. Love the way Booster drums.
3) Listening to the Best Westerns while I worked the door. Didn't see what was going on on stage, but I loved the way they sounded. I like this song in particular. Is that a tuba?
4) Picking up Dan Deacon from the airport, bringing him to the Good Food Store (Total Fest sponsor) and having a cup of Black Coffee (Total Fest sponsor also) and talking some shop. Dan organized Whartscape for years, knows what it's all about, and has been doing his thing seriously DIY-style for years. He just released a great new record called America too.
5) 5 unique copies of the Bugs' first LP Goin Places with hand-drawn covers, purchased at the Record Swap. Eventually selling 'em in the Wantage distro.
6) Lecherous Gaze. 
7) the 5 minutes of Swamp Wolf I saw. Jeezus.
8) Gay Witch Abortion. Dude, I felt like Bill Clinton was president again. And that the Cows might show up with blow up doll masks on, and a dented reveille trumpet.
9) Abe Coley at the Record Swap.
10) The fact that the Havoc distro was at the VFW and they had the Heratys and Mauser LPs, and a Direct Control 7".
11) The fact that the Iron Lung Records catalog traveled with Iron Lung, and that they had the Total Control LP and No Statik 7".
11) Harkonen. Jeez-luh-wheez, what a rad show.
12) Dreamdecay at the VFW.

This is a pretty un-inclusive list frankly, but you know, it's a start. Need also to make a serious nod to Josh Harteis and Paul Hanbarger, the new Total Fest head dudes. They did a good job, and made the transition all too seamlessly. Also, KBGA is our radio station. Let that be on the record. Without a station on which you can hear two straight hours of Total Fest bands, content, stories and interviews, Total Fest ain't what it is. They helped us get Torche and Dan out this year, and KBGA is a powerhouse of community-involved and oriented radio station, run entirely by UM students and volunteers. I wish had a show archive page, because between Tom Helgerson, Tom Daily, Dave Martens, Reggie Herbert, Niki, Julie, Dawn, Dane, Chris Justice, Kevin Sherwood and Hana Montana, you pretty much got your bases covered for all the great music you need in a week. Lots of the specialty DJs are using Mixcloud, so if you hear somebody you like on the stream, dig around on the internet and you might find something like this. Oh, and while we're giving mega-shouts, let's thank Biga Pizza, whose hosting of the Total Feast allows us to keep on our mission of doing Total Fest all-ages. It's a real big solid they do for us, and it's noticed. Pushing publish now, knowing it's way too short a re-cap. Like I said, one dude's only.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Other than we're talking about 'em here, and they've got something to do with Total Fest this year? Yes, that's the full question. Well, let's start at the begining: I was gonna say "metal" but I just read in the Missoua Independent that Tidal Horn don't consider themselves "metal." Well, Tidal Horn, that's tough, you're kind of what we'd (very flatteringly) call "party metal." You've got the riffs, you cover Dio. You gallop. That's the evidence. That's enough to us. Won't get all into the degrees of metallitude here, but that's what we'd call 'em. And they're a damn fine band, all that explanation of what they play aside. 

We're in for a dark, heavy, black treat with this Swamp Wolf addition to tonight's show. Check this shit out. Man, I need a shower after listening to this. It's like getting spit on by Cronos or something. How does Flagstaff continue to do this?

Finally, the bros of Zombie Tools, a first time Total Fest sponsor, are a feral lot. Often seen with black under their fingernails from working on the forge, bowler hats ala Clockwork Orange, and you know, (pretty good) scotch on their breath. You see, Zombie Tools to the uninitiated is Missoula's own full-on, un-ironic hand-crafted sword company. These guys take this shit so entirely seriously, it's actually pretty incredible. Their whole m.o. is based around the idea that when the shit goes down, eventually you'll run out of ammunition, and will need a reliable, simple weapon, that will effectively be your tool for surviving whatever harshness the world's throwing your way. Not terrible, if a bit err fatalistic, logic. They've got some great youtube vids of their katanas in acton, hacking the shit out of Pabst cans mostly. Thanks Zombie Tools.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bou-yah-ka-shah. Check yourself, etc. Couple more notable sponsors we're gonna do a pretty aggressive online backslap to: Garage Tees and newcomer Burns St. Bistro. We'll keep it brief, just the facts and soforth. Missoula's westside is our mixted-est neighborhood. Lots of trailerparks, low-moderate income folks, and frankly a ton of spunk, culture and awesome weirdos. And deep among the weirdos are the fellers (mostly fellers) of Burns St. Bistro and Garage Tees, a bistro and screen printing shop, respectively. Where to start?

Well, "BSB" as we'll call it to save time is the long-time brain child of Jason McMackin, Cameron Williams, Hunter and some other bitchin co-conspirators. They're located on Burns St., in the same building as the Missoula Food Co-Op. They do excellent breakfasts, serve Black Coffee (we think) and feature among other insanely delicious "scratch-made" sandwiches, all manner of things with their signature candied bacon. Have breakfast there. Stay for lunch.  Honestly, it's some of the best we got, and it won't crush the rest of your day like that chicken fried steak with J.J.'s.

Second up is Garage Tees, the printshop owned by Aaron Farseth and Christian Goss. Located in the Warehouse Mall, these guys are responsible for all Total Fest apparel printing. And they do a great job at it. They're always about helping bands get merch together affordably, know a good price-point when they see it, and do great, consistent and timely work. Bring 'em a job! This shirt on the right here's an example of some of their work.

There, now go see King Elephant.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Missoula's home to a huge, rad lot of bands. And a lot of 'em play that kind of punk rock that's 4/4, melodic, danceable and from the gut. It reminds me of the stuff a lot of No Idea groups do, and Jawbreaker. Yeah, I'm older, that's my point of reference for melodic punk rock.

Anyhow, Buddy Jackson is a new(erish) group from that scene with dudes (in Timmy and Nick) who've been around for a long time, playing in great groups like Birds Mile Home, Jacktoptown and the Knockoffs. Their third member, Grant, is the drummer, and he's from Bozeman, man. Nuff said. They've toured recently, and kick out a ferocious and fun-as-all-hell live show. And, they wear vests. You can read more about 'em on Kate's Missoula Punk News blog!

Buddy Jackson helps kick things off at the early show, Thursday, August 16th at Zoo City Apparel. The doors for that show open at 5:00 PM and it's guaranteed to fill up fast, so get there early!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

As y'all know, we have no shame when it comes to the awesome local businesses that help us with Total Fest. There's a good reason for that, well, lots of good reasons. Black Coffee Roasting Co.'s been in business for a handful of years now, and they've always stepped up with their delicious joe, both hot and iced for our Saturday Record Swap.

And here's the thing: this coffee is f*cking great. Pardon our expletive, you know, but it really is. The AM blend's got a brightness that cuts through a morning fog like a hot knife through errr, butter (and pardon the tired old saw too). They do a good handful of regular blends and roasts, and rotate seasonally all kinds of unique and interesting stuff through. It's organic, and fresh as hell too. I didn't realize what a difference freshness made, until I bought some Yubanese and realized how you have to choke that sh*t down in comparison. You don't need much good coffee, and keeping your dollars in the local economy's a nice thing. We recommend starting with a bag of AM, and getting some Vinyl if you've got an espresso machine, PM if you're a decaffer, and some of the Rwandan if you dig fruitiness. One can't go wrong.

This year, Black Coffee stepped up to the plate with Total Black, Total Fest's own signature dark roast. And they're giving Total Fest cash from each sale, to help cover the various related expenses of doing this thing. Stores of this delicious stuff are starting to dwindle, but there should be some at a couple of their retail spots, which include Total Fest sponsors like the Good Food Store and Le Petit Outre in Missoula. Side note, Matt McQ. co-owner of BCRC plays in Spirit Hole, a good-time Missoula psychedelic group who're playing the August 30th Total Fest Residency at the VFW. Take heed!

Listen to the Black Flag song here. Who knows, maybe it inspired 'em.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

With a Total Sponsor Like Betty's It's Hard Not to Look Your Best

Big time, long time Total Fest sponsor, Betty’s Divine is WAY more than just Missoula’s premiere shop for fresh digs. Aimee McQ and the ladies at Betty’s Divine are involved in many events that help keep the Missoula community weird and having fun including the annual Hip Strip Block Party, Selvedge Studio’s Project Selvedge, weekly Badlander sensation Dead Hipster Dance Party, Sunday StreetsMissoula and Le Kickball League. Betty’s supports the local arts scene by hosting monthly First Friday events, showcasing local artists sharing their space with quality local art. They carry jewelry and apparel by local designers including Zoo City Apparel, Jay Edward Jewelry, Courtney Blazon, StatriotDesigns, Courtney Sowa Jewelry, Goertzen Adverture Equipment, Donkey Girl qnd more! Thank you Betty’s for the constant love and support. Now get down to Betty’s BIG SALE for 50%-70% off contemporary, creative and edgy clothing, footwear and accessories for ladies and fellas! It’s what’s good for ya, and we know.  !"

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


As you may have already guessed, we love cramming as much musical mayhem into a single, chaotic weekend as possible. However, Total Fest XI--a many headed beast of rocking ambition--decided to up the ante just a bit this year. Instead of relegating ourselves to the traditional Thursday, Friday, Saturday onslaught, we've expanded the fest by four--yes, FOUR--nights. To the initiated Missoulian, this could only mean one thing: The August residency at the VFW is being curated by Total Fest this year!

It's always been a lamentable shame that we can't quite fit every band we'd like to onto the fest, so the quick remedy has been to take the four non-festival Thursdays in August and showcase some of our other favorite local (and non-local) bands. The best part is, no pass necessary for these jammers. Each event is a stand-alone happening of rockin' majesty, for only three American™ dollars a pop. Here they are:

All of these will be eclectic bills--but this one is especially exceptional in that regard; ranging from the soft, dark folk of Cave Cricket to the muscle car pump of American Falcon; the clattering, sturm and drang of the Bronx bred No One and the Somebodies to the hypnotic pulsing of Modality. It's not just something for everyone, it's unique contrasts culminating for an exciting night of live music. This show is also a t-shirt drop off for the Total Cave installation (all old band shirts welcome!) Doors at 9:30.

Listen to NO ONE and the SOMEBODIES
Listen to MODALITY

Velcro Kicks have been "kicking" (agh, puns!) their brand of lo-fi scum-pop around Missoula for years, and I for one, am eternally grateful for it. Occasionally mashing a familiar surfy wash into dark, chromatic punk, giving the whole sound a claustrophobic--but equally exciting tension. Shotgun Hodown is a travelin' band from Grand Junction, Colorado, passing through our little mountain gem as an acoustic duo for this set. Their songs recall the Ennio Morricone influenced sounds of Giant Sand/Calexico with a dastardly dash of Tom Waits thrown in for good measure. Opening the night will be Petunia, whom do that hollerin' Springsteen influenced Punk (with a capital 'P,' natch) better than just about anyone around these parts--a heightened attention to song craft and scrappy charm sets them apart. Also, Brandon is the cutest guy in town ;) This show is also a t-shirt drop off for the Total Cave installation (all old band shirts welcome!) Doors at 10.

Read about PETUNIA!

If you were growing up in the 90s and were cool, there's a pretty good chance that I Hate Your Girlfriend reminds you of all the music you loved when you were angsty enough to etch "Nirvana" into everything in sight. What makes them special is that they don't sound like a nostalgic retread of grunge as a genre, but more an updated love letter. Plenty of punk snarl tempered with an ear toward melody and cynical humor. James Rabbit is basically the definition of west-coast art-pop. Eclectic, vibrant, sunshine. One Hundred and Ten Percent. All the way, baby. Sometimes I get an Elephant 6 influence, others, something I can't quite put my finger on. Starting the night off is the inimitable Cat Heaven. Rumor has it that this will be their "last show," as scene-teen-dreamer, Tyson Ballew will be moving at the end of the summer. That alone makes this a can't-miss event. Doors at 10.

Listen and Read about CAT HEAVEN!

Webster's dictionary defines the word "blowout" as: HOLY SHIT THIS IS GOING TO BE TOTALLY F-ING BONKS, BRO. Boys and Spirit Hole have both done their fair share of face-melting around these parts since January, and you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who wouldn't agree that they're firmly indoctrinated in the current Missoula rock-renaissance we've been experiencing lately. Buddy Jackson makes me feel warm and giggly in the best way possible: unapologetic, gleeful, punk rock. The mysterious Germ Hunk is the brain child of the prolific Riley Wave. To my knowledge, this will be his premier live performance under the Germ Hunk moniker--a project that would sound right at home with one of the weirder John Dwyer projects. To compound all of this intense action, it's also the first week school is back in session: WUT. Tell your friends. Doors at 9.

Listen to BOYS
Listen to GERM HUNK

Boom Swagger Salon

Once again, we here at Total Fest are thrilled to name Boom Swagger as one of our sponsors! Last year, we posted a list of some of the reasons this local salon staple is great. Of course, all of those still reasons still apply, but I'd like to take this opportunity to personally expand on that list just a tad:

6. When I moved here three years ago, I had the lingering city-boy-stress of finding a salon that could do my gloriously thinning locks justice. Lo and behold, Boom Swagger was just the joint to make me feel right at home. Some people have their go-to mechanic; I have my go to stylist (Katie, holla). Proud to say, three years and counting, I haven't even had to consider looking elsewhere.

7. Everyone on staff their is friendly and knowledgeable. It's the thing you hope for with any business you patronize, but Boom Swagger always hits it out of the park (not to mix metaphors, but I'm having trouble coming up with the hair-styling equivalent of hitting a home run, my bad).

8. As previously addressed in last year's list, their name comes from a Murder City Devils song, which is awesome, but I can't help but think of Lil' B and all his SWAG when I hear their name. For me this is a very, very good thing. SWAG.

9. In addition to their excellent pre-cut refreshment service, they also have a great reading selection.

10. Like all of our sponsors, they are a generous, community driven business.

Whether you're a local who hasn't tried 'em out yet, or a shaggy, road-worn traveler coming in Total Fest weekend whose mop needs a little management, I can't think of--or recommend--a better place to go get your do done.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Total Cave!

TOTALFEST would give you the shirt off our back; will you do the same for us?
You know you have 'em... those stacks of rock tee shirts; heaped up in the corner, stuffed into a drawer, collecting dust in neat piles on a shelf.  Maybe there's a boxful of XXL's in your basement leftover from that last tour.

Their time has come.  Those shirts have a higher calling.

TOTALFEST 11 will feature a large scale installation by Missoula-born artist Amanda Browder .

Calamity Jane (2007)

Like all things TOTALFEST, it will be EPIC, and we need you to make it happen.  We need your dusty old shirts and lots of them.  It will be worth it.  And you won't have to haul that box next time you move.

Drop-off locations in Missoula are:
  Zoo City Apparel
  Selvedge Studio.

Out of towners can mail their shirts (by August 10th) directly to:
 Amanda Browder
 99 Java #3
 Brooklyn, NY 11222.
Additionally you can drop off shirts at Total Feast August 05, 2012 at Biga Pizza and the ZACC  on August 10, 2012

Saturday, July 28, 2012



I just bought a leotard.  I will be wearing it to Total Fest this year.  Why?  Because TacocaT is coming!
Oh-Nine was the year I fell in love with TacocaT.  I remember ***ing a little as we listened to their submission, most of the songs from Shame Spiral I believe.   I found myself listening to lyrics about Toxic Shock Syndrome and songs titled “Hey, Kids, It’s a Basement”.   Not since Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer had I been so ready to outrageously color my hair and dance to party pop.  I was stoked.  And here I am again, it’s 2012, and I am still ******* my pants to see them on stage at Total Fest XI. 
Emily Nokes, Lelah Maupin, Bree McKenna, and Eric Randall put the fur and spice in TacocaT. They recently released a grande EP “Take Me To Your Dealer” on Hardly Art and have just finished their east coast summer tour.  Now these kitties are headed back out west for Seattle’s Pizza Fest and Total Fest XI!  “Take Me To Your Dealer EP” includes my new favorite song “Cat Fancy”(if only because the sound quality is better than “Leotard” on Shame Spiral).  It is built upon simple poppy chords, yeah yeahs and filled with giddy excitement for receiving the best cat magazine in the mail once a month.  When I heard this song it was as if I was surfing out to my mailbox in filled with anticipation to see the August Cat Fancy centerfold. 
Now, I know it is hip to love cats and sing like a 21st Century Beach Boy, but TacocaT sets themselves above all of those trendy bands hopping into an instamatic photoshoot with a bunch of kittens and bearded men.  I love the attitude that TacocaT is able to convey through silly songs about weed and female troubles.  I would fight anyone who thought TacocaT took themselves too seriously.

Zombie Tools: Protecting TotalFest from legions of the undead...

For the past few months, we here at TotalFest HQ have been shining a spotlight on each and every band slated for TF XI. But without our sponsors, there’s no way we could bring all of those bands to a beautiful little valley. One of our most generous sponsors is also a totally original, totally bad ass, totally Missoula business, and we’re really happy to have them on board.

Have you ever wondered what you’re going to need to survive (for a while, at least) when that zombie apocalypse actually comes to fruition? I bet somewhere near the top of that list is some sort of sword or blade. Right? Of course. Well if you’re in the market for some serious steel to get you to your safe zone, look no farther than Zombie Tools.

Started in 2007 by two friends who shared a love of swordplay and horror movies, Zombie Tools has quickly become the go-to source for serious undead repelling blades. Don’t believe me? Look what they can do to twenty-four 16oz PBR cans.


You can check out the entire Zombie Tools catalog at here.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tenement: Dreaming Out Loud

Hailing from Appleton, Wisconsin, Tenement make some truly unique music, and are one of the more interesting bands floating around in the punk rock world these days. These three young Midwesterners write catchy, upbeat and blown-out songs that blur the lines of punk and indie rock. While some of their initial recordings drew inspiration from bands like Husker Du, the Replacements and Dinosaur Jr., their energetic, catchy punk and fuzzed-out songs take time to slow down and delve into shoegaze-inspired dirges or lo-fi pop territory. It's got bits and pieces of all the old bands and records you grew up on but also has a willingness to create something new.

We are excited to host Tenement at this year's Total Fest as they charge through on a tour of the west. If you haven't yet heard them, be sure to stream their previous albums "The Blind Wink" and "Napalm Dream" from their bandcamp page.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Wizard Rifle

While perusing the Wizard Rifle bandcamp page, I noticed their tags include "shred" and "Portland." The former tag is a given once you spin the tunes. The guitar occasionally reminds me if Mick Barr said "fuck it" and started writing riffs for Andrew W.K (but still in 7/8). The drums are anything but shabby--I could use the word "tasteful," but no one actually knows what anyone fucking means by that because for all I know on a good day Chad Kroeger might sit back in his million dollar lawn chair, sipping a twisted tea, thinking to himself, "Damn, but Nickleback is tasteful. Why all the hate, bros?"

Whoa, tangent. I apologize, I've obviously been spending too much time working on my Nicbac-fanfic blog. Anyway, Wizard Rifle's drums are nothing like Nickleback, because--well, frankly--they're good, if not downright great. Never flashy, but always Getting Shit Done™. It's the necessary economy of two person bands. I suppose this is where the "Portland" tag seems especially prescient.

There's a well established tradition of heavy duos from the Pacific Northwest that have paved the way for bands like Wizard Rifle to set up camp and lay down the law. I won't bore you with names (KARP, BIG BUSINESS, godHEADsilo, the core Buzzo/Crover Melvins, whoops...), but you can hear it in the music. It's a unique angst that at times seems may be light hearted, masked by the almost jovial sounding song titles--ain't no crime to have a sense of humor, hombre--but the core of that humor is cynical, pragmatic, pessimistic. It's what separates the PAC NW heavy from the often laughably apocalyptic melodrama of straight up metal. There's ambition tempered with skepticism in a band like Wizard Rifle that keeps them from being the same ol', same ol' chuggo-destructo. That epic-ambition-tempered-skepticism is what keeps them interesting, and makes them awesome.

And if you don't trust me about the humor, check out the track "Leathery Gentlemen" (!) posted below:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Locals King Elephant Full of Pop, Love, & Angst

Out of the "Exhaust" of a dying van and the remnants of Total Fest Alumni Goddammitboyhowdy (Joey Running Crane and Booster Bustamante) emerges the fully engaging sounds of Missoula's own King Elephant. Joining forces with Ryan Bilunka (Suicide Victim) on bass and the new edition of the soda-and-lemonhead fueled Ethan " who cares who's watching" Uhl (The Whoopass Girls) on guitar and vocals, King Elephant throws down some of the most energetic and meaningful songs coming out of Missoula.

Currently out on a 30 day US tour, these Montanans are about to set the US a fire with their live, sing-a-long, raise your fist and dance along tunes. The tour is being documented by Tim Goessman, which you can check out here. A full length album out in the near future on Minor Bird Records will have these lads playing in bedrooms everywhere.

King Elephant represents the DIY punk heart of what makes Total Fest a totally awesome event. Make sure to catch one of Missoula's most prized gems before these dudes make way to new pastures.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Named for octogenarian Montana broadcast legend, (pic below) Vi Thompson  (RIP), the Vi Thompson Overdrive -now simply "VTO"- sprang out of Charlie Beaton's need for a band that did something different than what his other band, the Banned, had done. The Banned were, for an 18 year old Knowles Hall  (dorm) resident named Josh Vanek in 1992, the first Montana punk group. I think the first Banned show I saw was them opening for Seaweed at UM's Copper Commons. It was excellently, awkwardly punk in every way from the cruddy mosh pit, to the mohicans, and docs and Skinyard shirts. The Banned were excellent, in a pretty theatrical, good at their instruments, rippin' crazy punk kind of way. And they had this kind of weirdo high pitched Jello-esque front guy who sangs songs like South Canada and Hippie's Got a Gun and who occasionally threw hot dogs at the (rather thin) crowd. The Banned had been around since the later '80s, released what I think is safely Montana's first punk 7". They probably had four or so pretty distinct lineups with the core of Charlie singing, Pat Phylmm/guitar and Mike Vanecek/bass being the band I'm most familiar with. They broke up at some point in the latish '90s when Pat moved to Seattle to pursue a dance/music/wild man career. Pat's another story, but I think the first time I saw somebody cut himself intentionally was Pat, at Jay's Upstairs, with a razor, ... across his forehead. Still gives me the shivers.

The Banned reunited for Total Fest IV, that sweaty affair at the American Legion Hall in 2005. During college, Charlie was the guy who'd organized shows for (touring behind Margin Walker) Fugazi, and (Kerplunk-era) Green Day. He'd get the bands like Schlong and the Too Many groups (two VTO songs reside on Too Many comps) to come to town. Charlie's always been that rare kind of dude in a place like Missoula who's excited about punk to the point where he took an active role in making it happen with shows, bands and releases. Between then and now he started up Big Dipper, the great ice cream place that's always hosted Total Fest's Saturday Record Swap, and a family, and some of the active punk stuff took a back burner.

But, a handful of months ago, VTO reformed, and with about half of their original lineup intact! It's rad to see guys in their 40s (or close) playing country punk in Missoula in 2012, it's the sort of lifer move that I think helps keep a place like Missoula unique compared with say, err, other similarly sized towns. I think "country punk," as much as I don't love saying it, is pretty apt handle. I know Charlie and Yale listened to a lot of Jonathan Richman's Goes Country record when they were starting. I went and saw them play in Helena the other weekend and it's thoroughly great, the same vibe as before, lots of fun, well rehearsed and a good time. Sounds like the '90s, man.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Hailing from Seattle, WA, The Pharmacy are a lo-fi/psych-pop outfit who aren’t afraid of what that means in today’s musical climate. Or maybe they are. I’m making assumptions here. Point is, their music doesn’t feel like it’s holding back.

It's authentic. It's fun. And it feels good. Production bells and whistles take a back seat to quality songwriting and strong musicianship. And yeah, there is a firm foot placed in past popular music, but with a musical ambition that gets us excited.

Having just completed a U.S. tour with another group of TF vets, Japanther, and building up to the release of another LP, "Stoned & Alone," we are pleased to present The Pharmacy to you once again.

THE PHARMACY - DIG YOUR GRAVE (MUSIC VIDEO) from brendhan bowers on Vimeo.

SEDAN Cruises into TFXI

It's difficult adequately describe a band like Olympia's Sedan. Sedan released an amazing split with Thrones, a full length CD on Hamburgereyes, and self-released an awesome single "Patronized."

Simply put, Sedan is Scott Seckington on piano, weaving together tunes that are oddly ambient and agitated at the same time. It's a one man show "with a more spacious vibe kinda going on."

Instrumental music gets a bad rap -- maybe it's attention spans or laziness, but the lack of lyrics leads people to think that instrumental music is inherently melodramatic and repetitive. That's a little shortsighted. For one, instrumental music takes on the daunting task of crafting a story without words. Sedan accomplishes this through the piano with some electronic accents here and there. It's a vivid and moody journey. Ambiance, however, remains an even more difficult cat to herd. At its finest, it erases the lines between background and foreground. It's an event that surrounds us and solicits us to participate within it. Once we start thinking about the experience, we lose it. Don't get me wrong, I dig all the stuff that comes with a traditional band -- the flailing, screaming, hair thrashing, sweaty banter, etc. -- but it relies upon a distinct audience / band relationship. They're on stage; we're on the floor (or on chairs, tables, barstools). But, along the lines of Brian Eno, Sedan not only offers us a highly individual experience where we can lose ourselves for extended moments but also forces us to share that experience with a host of people.

Like a fun house, Scott leads us through mirrored and off-balanced hallways, smoky rooms, and spontaneous leaps, while we hear the laughter and shrieks echo on the other side of the wall. With that, we welcome Sedan, and invite you to come out and play this August. Bring your cotton candy, your caramel apples, your fried dough. Sedan will be there waiting.

(this video features Sedan's old drummer. Scott will be flying solo for Total Fest, but he promises that the set will still be killer)