Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Back when I was a wee lad of eighteen or nineteen years, in about 1992, newly arrived in Missoula, wet behind the proverbial ears and taking my first set of classes at UM, there were a handful of interesting punk and underground bands going in a time that otherwise you couldn't really toss an Oly stubby without hitting a dreadlocked, Birkenstocked, Phish-logo'd New Jersey license-plated Four Runner-drivin' bro 'round here. Luckily, these culturally resistant types were charting their own courses, going against the prevailing grain of the time doing their own thing, irrespective of audience size, whether many folks really cared, money, or whatever else sort of extrinsic gains there might have been.

Bands like the Phantom Imperials, Judy Rosen Parker, VTO, Hughes, Sasshole, The Banned, Honky Sausage, the Jolly Ranchers, the Oblio Joes, and Humpy (etc.) defined my first handful of years in Missoula, and had it not been for them, god knows if I'd have fallen in love with the place like I have. There also was a classically jerry-rigged and decrepit place called Jay's Upstairs that was centrally located, and which regularly hosted all kinds of weird stuff on its stage, including the first two Total Fests.

And as I broadly dismiss these '90s "hippies" I don't want you to think I'm a stunod who doesn't get that the original hippie movement was a countercultural, antiwar outfit with some great music associated with it. I'm just saying there was a particularly annoying set of entitled youths in Dead and Phish wear, primarily, roaming places like Missoula in the 1990s, and their contributions were of a somewhat limited scope. That's all I'm saying. Thankfully, Missoula's always had that kind of counter cultural vibe around, in the early days from the hippies, artists and weirdos, and more recently from artists, musicians, punks and weirdos. But anyways, in those days, there were a lot of folks in love with jam/cover bands and with a kind of Dead breakup hangover, crowding bar stages from Boulder to err... Ballard. And Missoula had its fair share of whatever that deal was.

In the middle of it all, there were some dudes from unlikely zipcodes like Havre and Billings who had located each other at UM and decided that their shared interests in SST bands, Australia's Sheaf Stout beer and noisemaking made them well-positioned to band up. And lo, Humpy was born. Their lore has it that for a while, they had two or three members simultaneously playing guitars and bass through the same cruddy Sunn amp, and used a soup ladle taped to somebody's foot to provide rhythm before they figured out a drummer... who knows how much of that is true, but it makes for good copy, eh? Humpy's music had a least three pretty distinct periods, the first of which was punctuated by the extremely woody bass-tone of Denis O'Brien. That period featured some pretty wild and diverse rock and roll. Occasionally they'd hunker down and knock out a ripper, but the band was very comfortable making its own distinct and varied racket.

Over time, longtime Jay's Upstairs sound reinforcement officer (and former Texas deathmetaler, and Kiss memorabilist) Justin Lawrence became bassist, and Humpy grew into a pretty straightforward, excellent hardcore band, and always played fast. But it didn't start that way. Humpy's done a handful of post-break up shows over the years, but when they brought Denis O'Brien out of the dugout for the Jay's reunion show (organized by Lawrence) a few years back, health problems kept the line up from getting to play live. We at Total Fest sure hope we can reconcile that this year, and are stoked to get to see that very first lineup one more time.

Here's a nice piece about Humpy, and some lyrics from Dave who runs One Base on an Overthrow.

This below may be all you need to know about Humpy:

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Not to be all Wikipedia or anything, but when you tag yourself as "progressive crust," my ear hair perks up. You're willingly throwing yourself into the ring with some of the best bands in the history of the planet, (quibble if you want) Crass, Nausea, Antischism, Neurosis, Disorder, Disrupt, Discharge, Tragedy, Man is the Bastard, Capitalist Casualties, Iron Lung, No Statik, Replica, Exilent, etc. I've obviously dated myself with this list, and, admittedly, this is a shallow list and maybe some of those stretch the genre, but we're not really concerned about that. Crust is one of those mesmerizing genres that even with the weight of consumerism trying to appropriate its aesthetic, the music continually shuns the shackles. Big talk ... maybe. Seriously, fashionistas may adopt the drapery, but there is no way the lifestyle, the ethics, or the music can be easily translated into something that your Screeching Weasel or Katy Perry fan is going to embrace.

At its best, crust serves to keep the rest of the punk rock / DIY community honest. Enter Salt Lake City's Cult Leader. They're brutally honest, unapologetically heavy, and trench-tested dissonant hardcore. Pushing at the boundaries, Cult Leader moves away from the straight up political by turning it inward, allowing for their individual perspectives to do the talking more than the, at times, canned and often repeated slams against an opaque and distant system. As always, it's refreshing the more abrasive it is, openly challenging you to embrace and live the ethics you've chosen. With tracks ranging from around a minute to close to seven minutes, they span the entire crust spectrum. You get it. I know. You wouldn't be looking at this if you didn't. Whatever my family and friends listen to when they throw my ashes into the proverbial wind or off the proverbial cliff, you can bet the aggressive, no-prisoner, oddly pacifist, atheist-in-a-foxhole blend of bands like Cult Leader will be on the playlist.

So that's it. I used a band to massage my ego. Rather than writing while I listened, I strolled down a few soggy / foggy memories of alleys and skateboards, of venues with shoddy doormen, of basement and backyard shows, of friends that I've lost contact with or lost completely, of those bands that lasted a minute or those Wordsworthian bands that didn't end soon enough, of the countless the-world-is-going-to-be-okay-because-we're-still-angry smiles that bands like Cult Leader bring to my face. Why every cynical remark I make is layered with hope. In the end, it's not up to me or you or some blogger to tell you what's up; it's up to the music. Cult Leader shreds, and they aren't about to let you wave some anarcho-banner or flaunt your patches without coaxing you into feeling why reality is worth it, why unhinged anger and frustration have a place, or why we all feel that faint glimmer of hope when music offers you the potential that everything cannot be commodified. Thanks for shattering our shackles, Cult Leader.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Bob Marshall's dank pizza place.
It's the final year of Total Fest and that also means that yes, it's time to announce our final Total Feast. This is something we've come to look forward to every year. It's a time where we partner with one of our most stalwart supporters, Biga Pizza, and go nutz with an all-out all-you-can-handle pizza buffet. This year, all that pizza sets you back $12 and it runs from 5pm to 8pm. Know that a big portion of those proceeds goes towards making this last best fest something to remember. We're still a non-profit, volunteer-run enterprise so we rely on fun events like this to pay all those bands you can't wait to see.

Biga is one of our (and Missoula's) favorite restaurants in town. The place is run by Volumen and Bavon and Egg member Bob Marshall and he's been tossing brick-oven-pizza for years now. The menu has some pretty creative topping choices (the Flathead cherries, the marscapone, all so so good) but they're just as solid with your regular sausage, pepperoni, and cheese. There's always been a few gluten-free pizzas popped out for you celiacs and there will be plenty of salad for all you Yoga instructors.  We love Biga and we're extra super totally elated to be doing this again, even for the last time.

To reiterate: TOTAL FEAST runs from 5pm to 8pm on Sunday, August 9th and like I mentioned earlier, it's only $12 for all-you-eat pizza and salad. PBR is available as well as Biga's regular beverage menu. The Ole Beck VFW Post #209 is available next door for overflow seating and booze-drinks for the 21+ set. This event is 100% FAMILY FRIENDLY and we can't wait to see you there.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


My introduction to Black Cobra's music in any real way is thanks to the Total Fest Record Swap.

That's our Saturday fandango at Big Dipper Ice Cream on Higgins curated by Bryan Ramirez and which features amazingly delicious and hugely gratis iced coffee from Black Coffee Roasting Co. Typically, there's around ten or fifteen folks with anywhere from 25 to a few hundred LPs and other formats they're looking to offload at low, low (Lolo) prices. I'd read a fair amount and heard of Black Cobra, and they even canceled last minute with Torche on a house show at Niki's old place on Front Street. To be fair, this was probably 2004ish, I think it probably was a thirteen hour drive from their starting point to the show, and the show might have paid each band $63. So, really, it's water under the bridge at this point, dudes. #WUTB.

This just got into a weird tangent. All of it in good fun. Back to the seriousness: So, I'd heard of this Black Cobra band. A two piece with a huge sound. Playing metal. Big sound. Great band. But I hadn't picked any recordings up. So it was a Total Fest Record Swap. Maybe six years back now, and somebody showed me their pile of records. Among the stack was Black Cobra's "Feather and Stone." I picked it up for six bucks or something, just thinking, I need to check this out further. I remember distinctly the gnarly, feral metal that started filling the room when I first played it. Jason Landrian's guitar tone is so excellent. Unprocessed, gnarly and just right for the songs. It's the kind of tone that once you hear it, you kind of start judging other metal by. I think the only contemporary band that touches it for my money is Megasus.

Between Rafa's drums and Jason's riff's, it's hard to deny the sheer burl that is Black Cobra. And that's why they're playing Total Fest XIV, man. Okay?

Monday, July 20, 2015


If you're the kind of person that enjoys convenience or just the satisfaction that comes from consolidating everything in one place, today is probably the best day of your life. We've put together three mixtapes featuring the majority of our Total Fest lineup for this year. They're not really tapes, we know, but they're streaming online so if that's the kind of the thing that totally floats your proverbial boat then hell, we're here for ya. Each mix is loosely based around a genre or two and we tried to make each one have a sense of flow because, well, half of the Total Fest committee is made up of radio DJs and that's something we care about.

Yeah, we're aware not every band playing Total Fest this year is on the mixes. We'll be posting more stuff like this in the future so no worries, we wanna make everyone part of the party. We'll keep you updated like we always do from this blog. 

Here they be:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Excited for Total Fest but wait to start having fun with us? Don't worry, we like throwing pre-parties or "pre-blasts" a few times a summer, and we're extra-special stoked to tell you about this one. The Ole Beck VFW Post #209 (a Total Fest venue) is hosting California's Shannon & The Clams (themselves Total Fest alumni) this upcoming Sunday, July 19th. If you're unawares as to the kind of music these Clams make, well, it's somewhere between doo-wop, garage, psych, surf, etc. etc. They've got a ton of killer tunes and we just love it when they visit. So so so much fun.

We're feeling pretty special that Shannon & The Clams included Missoula on their summer mini-tour. They're releasing a new LP in September and will be traveling full-on about that time but yeah, it's pretty sweet they wanna stop in in July. Missoula seems to go ape for these Clams and we're right there with you.

Joining Shannon & The Clams are locals Is Okay, Shahs (playing Total Fest this year), and Midnight Hotdog (the first show from Total Fest alumni Adelaide and Mikki of Needlecraft as well as Max Bauerly from Slut River). We're hoping this blast will get you folks in the mood to totally party with us in August.

PERTINENT INFO: Shannon & The Clams, Is Okay, Shahs, and Midnight Hotdog play the Ole Beck VFW Post #209 on Sunday, July 19th at 9pm. Advance tickets are $8 from Ear Candy Music or $9 from Total Fest (there's some fees related to online sales). Tickets on the day of the show are $10 for those 21+ or $15 for those 18-20.

Saturday, July 11, 2015


Long time duo, all around awesome folks, and DIY stalwarts, Shellshag continue to breathe fresh air into their lo-fi, poppy bursts. If you're not in the know, John and Jennifer have been playing together since (at the very least) 1997. Their records and shows have provided us with an intimate glimpse into their relationship. Each song is steeped in playful honesty, which really translates in their live performances as they face one another, singing into self-constructed "Y" shaped microphone stand. Their dialog is transparent in their harmonies, and live it takes on a jubilant nature all its own. They continually build on each other, crafting an infectious energy that hasn't dwindled after all these years. John's guitar and odd baritone voice pair perfectly with Jennifer's belts of sleigh bells, snares, and enthusiastic vocals.

There's something about two pieces that always makes me smile. Sure there's less pretense and the music is boiled down to its most essential components, but it also allows for more space for personalities to take hold of the music and erases the boundaries between music and musician. Shellshag erases it further, merging their personal lives into their songs and performances. Maybe it's because they've been living it for almost two decades now, but there's an immediate hook to their songs that matches so well to the humble and quirky duo. Their songs play out all the aspects of a relationship -- the good and bad, the cheerful and somber, the dedicated and flippant moments that make it all worth it. It's a simple formula, but one that lies underneath all of our lives. Remember why you smile. Smile often with as many people as you can.

It's been a bit since Shellshag played Missoula, but we're super excited that they pulled off a yeoman-like effort to play Total Fest this year. Who knows, maybe we can talk them into playing a baseball game with us on Sunday -- provided we all don't just sit at the river.

Monday, July 6, 2015


We just (7/28/15) received the following bad news from Weedeater's booking agent, Erik Jarvis from Tone Deaf Touring:

"All of us in Weedeater camp sincerely regret that we cannot make it to Total Fest this year. The organizers were great and we were very much looking forward, however for reasons beyond our control  we had to postpone our whole western tour, including this show. We know it will be a fantastic time and we hope to see you there next year!"

Something about the south and the doom. It's like Birmingham in the late sixties or something. What is it? The zeitgeist? The water? Fried food? The air? Other elements? I, mean, it's the people, obviously, but you know what I'm saying. What else? I guess humidity, whiskey distilleries, good pot growing conditions, disaffection, and strong musical traditions and you've got some of the country's most fertile, err, topsoil for this stuff.

I think filthy Jim Anderson's responsible playing me my first Weedeater. It was their .... And Justice For Y'all record, which still kills me.

Weedeater basically are about slab after hefty slab of riff, pounded home with drums, bass and growled over by a man possessed. They're from Wilmington, NC. They've been at it solidly since 1998, have got through some lineup changes, but really it's steadily been the same, deeply satisfying stuff since they started, and they've just mined deeper and deeper into the riffs.

Lots of good interviews out there with "Dixie" Dave Collins, who also was in the weird and excellent 90's group Buzzov'en, who along with some other southern groups like Eyehategod and Acid Bath, etc. were some of the first to get called "sludge" metal. You know, if you're into the historical side of all this stuff. You can still get passes for Total Fest here. We'll see you in August, right?

Friday, July 3, 2015


Guest post today from longtime Missoulian, Total Friend and former TF Organizer and party/camper host, Irish American and soul patch wearer, Dennis Lynch. Now of Portland, OR for the record. I lugged a lot of staging with Dennis, and saw him barbecue a lot of burgers and generally just enjoy the guy's company. I think he's also got the distinction of being the Number One Fan for the Oblio Joes, so it figured to ask him to write something up when we secured the Obes


What is there to say about the final Total Fest and one of the best bands to ever grace the stages of Missoula? I had a feeling that the Oblio Joes would resurface for this event and I was asked if I would do the write up for the Obes and I was more than happy to oblige. I gave this some serious thought for a few days because I could probably write for hours about memories of shows and general drunken debauchery. The more I thought about it, I came to realize it wasn't the stories that we have about our friends in the Obes but it was the story of the Oblio Joes that made them our friends.

He sincerely means it.
One of the things I was most proud of in the Missoula rock scene from the very early 90's all the way through today was that, save for the hippy dippy jam bands and phony bluegrass bands that abound the Garden City, was that we were never pigeon holed for a type or a style of music. The beauty of shows booked at Jays Upstairs or the few other fall back bars for bigger shows was that we were blessed to an evening of multiple styles of rock. I have very fond memories of shows with Humpy, Fireballs Of Freedom, Sasshole, The Banned, VTO to name a few. There were so many bands at the time that crossed the Rock spectrum yet our lives were all intertwined. We were a large family. We stood up and stood out for each other and it bled from band to band and person to person.

I remember Andy Smetanka telling me a story of sending a split 7" single with Humpy and the Oblio Joes to Maximum Rock and Roll for a review and they at first would not review it because the Obes weren't "punk" and Andy giving them a lesson about punk not being safety pins and Liberty Spikes. It is about DIY ethos and being true to your music and standing behind what you write and perform. That my friends is punk rock. Not a chord or a scream or a leather jacket. It's your soul.

Roll on, Kentucky Moon. Picture by Becky Hensley.
The Oblio Joes embody that. Over many, many years and 7 or 8 albums with a few 7" singles thrown in, these guys blew out some serious songs and more than several Anthems near and dear to a lot of Missoulians hearts and ears. While bands came and went, some moved on to hopefully greener pastures and some just disappeared into the closet of past Missoula Rock and Roll lore, the Oblio Joes continued to build a base of fervent fans and new believers at every show. It was not uncommon to walk into a local watering hole and see the stage crowded with people trying to out sing the lyrics to many an Obes song or some drunken lout jumping up on stage to belt out a few chorus' with the band (I may have been guilty of that once or twice). These were hardly just shows, they were events. While new bands were popping up and old bands moving to the side, the Obes were stalwarts of the old guard but inspiring the future of local music.

There is a picture from the last "official" show at Caras Park that I am so happy to still see every once in a while. Now, I can't take credit for making it but I was happy to steal it and hold it up very high because the Oblio Joes truly did change my life. They not only showed me what Rock and Roll was about but they showed me what it could be and they will not be denied their place because they didn't wear the uniform of the rocker that some zines and the old school establishment told the masses to wear. They wore the uniform of the Oblio Joes and they wore it as a badge of honor and pride. Having them re-unite for the last hurrah of Total Fest just makes sense.

And it makes me happy. I am only sad that they will only have 30 minutes to make you smile and not 3 hours to play every song they ever wrote. Either way, it will be an event.

And it will change your life. It changed mine.

(Dennis Lynch, July 2015)

Thursday, July 2, 2015


There is next to nothing about Missoula's Beatzlevox online. What I know, what I can tell you, is that Beatzlevox may not truly be of this world. I'm speaking sonically, physically, and psychically. Though I'm at a loss for posting some streaming tunes for you people, I wish I could, the bizarro electro-jams Beatzlevox creates are truly untethered by space and time.

What you'll be seeing: a lone individual wearing something akin to a Mardi Gras mask, breathing heavily (or singing) through a vocoder, hands tied to a combination of keyboards and other electronics. Be skeptical, but WANT TO BELIEVE, Beatzlevox will win you over 1,000 fold with what you'll be hearing: space-funk, transdimensional pop plugged through a plethora of pedals, Kraftwerk For a Future Generation . It's a crazy thing, and we're definitely nuts at Total Fest HQ. We love to push the weird and we've found another stellar (literally) example with Beatzlevox. You're gonna love it. We promise.


When I first sat down to write this, I was telling myself not to just cobble together a list of Dead Bars' accolades and accomplishments. I mean, killer pop-punk just about sells itself, right? Sure, but I'm gonna blurt that list anyways because I don't care what you think a' me, I just want you to like this band:

CJ Frederick (of Total Fest alums Big Eyes) is not only Dead Bars' drummer, he founded the band with other core member John Maiello. CJ also started On The Real Records which though he's not running it anymore, is still going strong. They're signed to No Idea, they're playing the Fest and Pre-Fest in Gainesville, and on top of it all they are some of the biggest DIY promoters in their hometown of Seattle. Pretty damn busy, these guys. Not too busy to tear off some top serious pop-punk though (recorded with TacocaT's Eric Randall):

These tunes are a rolling party. We're lucky because that party is rolling towards Missoula and Total Fest XIV is only the better for it. Get ready, doods. This is gonna be one hell of a weekend.