Total Fest started with a relatively simple idea: put together an awesome show that you remembered for a long time. This is the poster from that first show in 2002. It happened somewhat by chance because some of my favorite bands (the Champs, Drunk Horse.. and I think Last of the Juanitas) were touring together. I decided that those bands could fill most of a room, why not try to get a few awesome locals, add Federation X and Japanther, ask everybody to play short sets, start early and make it something memorable. I think that formula has remained a constant, actually. The name Total Fest really came after the lineup was secured, when the need for a poster demanded something. I used to name a lot of shows, so people would assume they were something other than just a show, and maybe decide to attend because of that. My Yakima friends, Sharif and Frank were in Missoula, and they burned silkcreens, made an image and printed up some shirts in my basesment, so there were commemorative shirts from the first one too.
The name was inspired by this kind of jokey "total music" riff that Tim Green and Tim Soete were using at the time to describe what the Champs were doing. I don't remember the actual night terribly well, other than it went pretty fast, had some of my all-time favorite bands and we made enough money to pay everybody pretty well (Montana money, it was modest) and we barbecued before hand and maybe went swimming too. After that, the expectation just kind of started to be out there. People would say "are you doing another one of those?" so we moved it to two nights, and used the upstairs and downstairs of Jay's, and Julie made the first actual passes. Laminated with luggage tags enclosures.
2015 will mark the fourteenth and final Total Fest. It will happen August 20-22 here in Missoula. It's going to be an awesome lineup. More on that soon. I have a long list of reasons for ending it, largely it's things like looking at Camp Daze and the ZACC and seeing two great examples of the kind of things that I hoped my town would have some day. I really encourage supporting both those things if you like what Total Fest is about. They're two all-ages friendly, noncommercial, weirdness-encouraged institutions that I hope will be around for a long time to come. When I think about the hundreds of bands, great parties, swims and shows, awesome stack of posters and shirts, I have a lot of great memories and I think that's a good stopping point. Total Fest is a lot of work, and it's a shared labor of love for those of us who raise money, work with venues, program a lineup, write it up, etc. At the end of the day, we do Total Fest because we are music fans, just like the folks who come and play, and who pay to get in or who support in hundreds of other ways.
At some point, there probably will be something new, but it won't be for a while and who knows what exactly it will look like. Thanks everybody for all of the memories, let's have one more this August!
Please also note that Total Fest gets a % of every beer sold between 5 and 8PM tonight at Draughtworks Brewery in Missoula. that's Tuesday, April 14th.