Monday, August 31, 2015


Vaz, picture by Amy Donovan.
Well, it's been a week and a half and somehow my ears are still ringing. Is that normal? I wore earplugs! Anyway, we wanted to say thanks to the bands who played Total Fest. There were almost fifty of you and I think I got to see at least 65% of them this year, which I'm excited to say. We've all got our highlights reel, but mine's definitely chock-a-block with newcomers and old timers. Naomi Punk were a revelation. Shahs made me think of Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny. Hot Victory blew my mind. Jonny Fritz was amazing. Volumen never missed a beat. Humpy. Fireballs of Freedom. Black Cobra. Big Business. Big Business with Joe Preston playing Whip songs. Vaz. Hammerhead. Dead. Bad Future. Miss Lana Rebel. C Average. Clarke and the Himselfs. The Best Westerns. The Bugs... It's just a ridiculous thing to try to inventory.

Before I get to far along, we've heard that lots of people didn't get to buy a shirt before we sold out. To remedy that, we're going to keep orders open for September, and place an order to be printed in early October. You can go to the Total Fest Merch. button up above if you want to get something you missed.

Lana Rebel. Amy Donovan picture.
I think most of you know Total Fest XIV marked our last year of doing Total Fest. Certainly, I've got mixed feelings about that. It's been a good run and some of my best friends, strongest relationships, and certainly favorite music have come from Total Fest. I wanted it to go out on a high note, vs. burning out on it, and starting to resent the work that goes into it. Thanks for understanding that. I'm sure at some point, we'll want to do something else, and we'll let you know. While we like to think that Total Fest was a "special" thing, I'd like to submit that it's something that a dedicated group of people can make happen very similarly, right here in Missoula. Or wherever, I guess. Our formula was this: keep your eyes on the mission (ours was: great music, short sets, all-ages, noncommercial, diverse), divide tasks, keep at it. Our final year I forced a rule called the Simplicity Test. It just said if it was too complicated, we didn't do it. I recommend that because often times you need to check in with the basics. Total Fest has leaned heavily on direct relationships with bands whom I've (and other organizers)  worked directly for years, and I think in most cases folks trusted us to do what we said we would, which was promote the thing and get an audience there so the show was great.

Jonny Fritz with the Best Westerns. Picture by Amy Donovan.
If I'm allowed to editorialize a little, I'd like to encourage folks thinking about setting up a music fest to charge a fair price for good music. And you folks going to hear that music: pay what they're asking. Typically that's going to mean more than a standard punk show. It's hard being in a band, and nobody really wants to pay correctly. Show entry for DIY/punk/underground shows hasn't really adjusted for inflation ever. Cheapos still balk when I set a door price at $6. I was paying $5 or $6 twenty years ago to see music. It just means that bands you love are getting paid less in 2015 than they ever have been. That's bullshit and is unsustainable. You don't have to be in love with capitalism to know that there can be ethical business models, and at the core of that is setting a fair and competitive price that takes into account some of the input costs. With Total Fest, we never had a guest list, and the expectation always was that everybody has something to contribute. Either music, a volunteer shift, cash or some other support. If we were giving our time for several months as volunteer organizers, why exactly should somebody get in for free? I still love that.

I think a huge acknowledgement needs to go out to Missoula, and the people who patted us on the back, gave hugs, bought passes, came and had pizza, told their friends, and more than anything, showed up and came and had a good time over our fourteen years. Few communities are like Missoula, especially in its support for music, art, and a party. And I love those facts about this place.

Some things that make Missoula great:
Volumen. Amy Donovan photo.
Zootown Arts Community Center. Nonprofit that has an all-ages show space, Girls Rock Camp and low-cost and free opportunities for Missoulians to make all sorts of art. They're a great organization, and if you do any charitable giving, we recommend adding them to the folks you support.

Ear Candy Music. Is a record store, but also one of Total Fest's longest supporters. They've always sold passes and have never gotten paid for it. They keep their prices affordable, and maintain a very diverse stock. I think they are why Missoula is an exceptional place for Music, in lots of ways.

KBGA. Is 89.9 FM, Lots of great music, DJs and awesome shows are regularly getting pumped out on KBGA. KBGA's been behind TF since the first one.

Camp Daze. New, and in the same vein as Total Fest as far as nonprofit, volunteer run, and
Total Fest posters.

Obviously, that's a ridiculously short list. And without all of our sponsors (all Missoula small businesses) listed along the right hand side of this page we would be a lot more modest affair. Please give them your business, if you can.