Line Out Music & the City at Night

Monday, August 24, 2009

Totally Totaled

Posted by on Mon, Aug 24, 2009 at 2:53 PM

Helms Alee
  • Helms Alee

Aw Total Fest, you’re the best. You know how to throw a real party - it's Monday and I'm still spent. The people of Missoula put a lot of work into getting this festival together, and they really do a hell of a job. The vibe of the entire weekend is entirely positive and fun, and the lineup proved to have something to satisfy the tastes of everyone who came. The nights started light with pop and twang, then moved into heavier territory as the evening progressed and alcohol was consumed en masse. There were a lot of Seattle bands I had never seen before that made great impressions, particularly the heavy psychedelia of Wildildlife, the wasteland rock of Atomic Bride, the grimy grind or Filth Mattress, and the stripped down punk of the Blank Its. Despite the drum set falling apart every song, Tacocat was so undeniably fun they started a huge dance pit and crowd surfing - one of the best responses any band got all weekend. Lozen and Helms Alee elicited massive headbanging, especially with their new songs, which sounded amazing. I missed Sandrider’s set, but virtually everyone in the building crammed into the downstairs Palace stage to check them out. Black Elk kept all their clothes on this year, opting to hand out naked men playing cards to all the women in the front row instead of duct-taping their penises to their thighs. As is their want, their set was gnarly and abrasive.

Black Elk
  • Black Elk

  • Rebreather

There were several great acts from out of town I was introduced to this year as well: Youngstown, Ohio’s Rebreather had some excellent loud doom in the vein of decade-old Isis; Denver’s Git Some (featuring two of the dudes from Planes Mistaken for Stars) played raw, thrashy punk; and the LA/PDX duo Glassell Park 3 used a 6-string banjo and a kick drum made out of a wooden box to wail out some tasty blues garage rock. At the outdoor record swap I got a chance to see Why I Must be Careful up close, and they quickly transfixed everyone around them with seriously technical and bizarre jazz. With so many bands playing it’s hard to catch everything you want to, and I’m sure I missed out on some awesome stuff (specifically Flagstaff’s This Runs on Blood, which I have already been informed I am an idiot for missing).

Why I Must Be Careful
  • Why I Must Be Careful

The only beef I had with the festival was the room sound for a couple of the stages. Unless you were standing close enough to hear the band’s amps directly (which was hard to do a lot of the time), the PA mixes further back in the room sounded like muddy poop more often than not, especially on the second stages both upstairs and down. It’s hard to know if the problem was gear or the guys running it, but it’s something that should probably be addressed. Really though, it’s minor gripe on an otherwise unparalleled music festival. The bands, atmosphere, and energy at Total Fest are completely unique and organic, thanks in no small part to the tireless citizens of Missoula who volunteer countless hours making sure everything runs smoothly. It’s exceptional, and unfortunately all too rare in music festivals these days.


Comments (8) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
You left out Jiggywatts, one of only two rap/hip hop acts at the festival. They had the crowd at the mainstage dancing like crazy on Thursday night. It was a nice change of pace from a decidedly dude-rock heavy festival. Again, a minor complaint.

The best part? The people of Missoula that work tirelessly to put on the festival. Wantage Records/KBGA Radio and all the volunteers did a SUBPERB job of hosting. Thanks.

Posted by Jeff on August 24, 2009 at 3:27 PM · Report this
Thanks Jeff for all the kind words and great pictures! We really appreciate you coming out to play and document Total Fest the past few years. We had an excellent time and are super thankful to everyone who helped make it happen: bands, fans, volunteers, the awesome staff at the Badlander/Palace, etc... oh, and we'll totally work on the sound issues. (Thanks for that important feedback) Total Fest VIII was by far our most successful Total Fest on so many levels. We'll see you in 2010!
Posted by nicoletfviii on August 24, 2009 at 4:13 PM · Report this
so you drove over 600 miles to report about the same boring seattle bands you report about almost daily here?

Posted by mad rad! Garfunkel n Oates! Lame Out! on August 24, 2009 at 7:07 PM · Report this
I drove 600 miles, drank a bunch of whiskey, butt-fucked a bunch of deer, floated the river, went to 3 kick ass BBQs, saw a bunch of bands from around the West Coast and partied til 6 a.m. every night.

What did you do besides troll the Stranger all weekend?

Posted by Li'l Deer Lover on August 24, 2009 at 10:43 PM · Report this
Jeff Kirby 5
@3 - Your ability to turn a post about a grassroots, DIY rock festival in another state into a yet another gripe about Mad Rad is almost commendable, in a Special Olympics sort of way.

If you think the reason I drove 600 miles was to write 600 words for Line Out you are sorely mistaken. I drove to Montana for three days of really good times with really good bands; I post about it because a) my opinion is allegedly totally crucial or something, and b) because it's a great opportunity to spread the word about bands and places that are genuinely cool and worth talking about. If you think any of the bands I mentioned deserve less attention on the blog, I suggest you write them a polite email asking them to stop being so proficient at writing and performing music.
Posted by Jeff Kirby on August 24, 2009 at 11:46 PM · Report this
Totalfest is everything the Capitol Hill Block Party isn't.
Posted by Jeff on August 25, 2009 at 9:02 AM · Report this
Posted by Avtar on August 25, 2009 at 11:26 AM · Report this
480 miles dickwad
Posted by rachy (baby) on August 27, 2009 at 11:20 AM · Report this

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