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)


Relenting only for the occasional drum fill, the drums are all hi-hat/crash trash. Guitar chords are cranked through what sounds like a cheese grater on top of a Marshall Stack (lol wut?). The bass is that classic pick-pounded 80s thrash following the guitar around like a rabid puppy. But the vocals--man, the vocals. It's the thing that makes Unnatural Helpers so instantly satisfying. Not in a nostalgic way that some modern punk-garage treads garbage in, riff-recycling and attitude assembling, but in the sense that you still love hearing so-sweet kiss-offs hollered (not screamed) atop a loud-fast band that doesn't sound heavy, but impossibly, irrepressibly scrappy--hell, almost skinny. Like the smallest-smartest kid in gym class out benching every jock fuck before kicking the teacher in the balls and storming out triumphantly to go read Origin of the Species. Or something like that.

And we stand back, totally impressed. We, the lucky attendees of Total Fest XI of course, where Unnatural Helpers are gracing us with their presence this year. They even have a new album coming out this fall on Hardly Art appropriately titled "Land Grab," because--as previously addressed--their music has a kind of rock-conquerer feel to it, invading a continent of hungry ear-drums and freeing them from the tyranny of bad rock writing (my sincerest apologies). I'll let the pros handle this kind of damage.

Go here to listen to a track off their new album, or look below to watch an in-studio from KEXP.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Total Fest is pleased to announce another great local Missoula band to play Total Fest XI, The Magpies.

The Magpies have been on local and regional radar for a while now, and with the relatively recent Nineties nostalgia popping up in popular music, it’s nice to know that there are those who have been there all along. Husband-wife duo Tolan and Sam maintain a certain sonic earnestness and authenticity that perhaps only two people who have lived together can. And with the addition of Dave Martens on drums – Missoula’s personal Keith Moon, and a musical renaissance man in his own right – the equation is complete for a rawkin’ good time. The Magpies rip through a slew of well-articulated poppy/grungy tunes that blow the doors off whatever club they find themselves slaying.

This is for those of you who weren’t able to see Sonic Youth live.

Even if you did, The Magpies still impress.

Get excited.

You can listen to their most recent releases below.


Monday, July 2, 2012


Everybody at Total Fest knows Ben Verellen from his ripping current band Helms Alee who've played a handful of times, and who rage full-on, undeniably. They also know him from his rad amplifiers and pedals and stuff, sold under the handle Verellen Amps.

But before all of that there was Harkonen. I think we'll say a bit more about them in a minute, but why don't you please just click play down below and get treated to some ragin'.

Harkonen are officially broken up, but have agreed to melt the collective un-conscious of Total Fest-goers for a very special, one-off deal. It'll be a freakin' huge treat to see these rippers. I guess the only other thing I'll say (the internet's full of information, man) is that this year marks a first, I'm positive in Montana history, and perhaps festival history across the world: we've got two bands in Harkonen and Sandrider whose names are direct references to Frank Herbert's Dune. Think on it. Dress like Feyd Rautha if you're feelin' it. We'll let you in free that night.