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:

1 comment:

High Style said...

I will come back to this place, its huge and open, and have really tall ceilings. Wait staff at New York venues was also pretty good. Bartender was awesome and personable. I was really pleased with my party here. Ha! I highly recommend these guys.