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.  !"