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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Total Fest Saturday: Get Naked and Dance

posted by on August 17 at 16:02 PM


A frustrated Partman Parthorse kicked off the final night of Total Fest, struggling with amps, microphones, cables, sound guys. As usual, singer Gary Smith undressed down to a pair of ripped black underpants, giving the audience and his band a strip tease as he crooned. He was noticeably frustrated with the situation after ďdriving seven fucking hours to get here,Ē and tore around the stage, demanding the mic be turned louder and louder until it was clipping with every scream of ďDonít fuck with the horse, youíll get the hu-hu-hooves.Ē

Next were the Limbs, a one-man band from Denver. With an electric guitar, harmonica, kick, snare, tambourine, and hi-hat, you would never be able to tell without looking that there wasnít a full band on stage. Bellinghamís the Narrows slowed things down with a set of heavy, brooding rock. Maybe it was just seeing them out in the country, but their sound would make a perfect score to the Jim Jarmusch movie Dead Man. I enjoy slow, droney music as much as the next guy, but I usually end up wishing after about ten minutes that I had someplace comfortable to sit down. The downstairs Palace stage at the Badlander is a giant room literally filled with couches. Best festival ever. Upstairs, the Trucks were the first band of the weekend to really get the crowd dancing. An unexpected but awesome moment was Kristen Allen-Zito letting out a staggering death metal scream of ďNo I wonít sit nice and be quiet!Ē They played two new songs that signaled some maturation in their songwriting without sacrificing any of the fun.

Tom Glose of Portlandís Black Elk is a salty old dog. That man has about the worst attitude as anyone Iíve ever seen. Once again there were problems with the microphones, and much like the singer of Partman Parthorse, Glose got pretty mad about it. Deciding to keep with the earlier bandís routine, he began stripping off his clothes as well. By the second song he had gotten completely naked, save for a strip of duct tape in his ass crack and another across his legs and dick. The audience shared some obvious discomfort at the sight of the agitated naked man, but it was quickly overpowered by the sheer dominance of the bandís performance. Black Elk played a brutal, dominating set. Somehow that bitter old bastard didnít seem out of place screaming his guts out with his dangle bouncing around for everyone to see (and photograph). It almost seemed to push the bandís performance to a higher level.


A level that was then immediately matched, if not surpassed by San Franciscoís Triclops!. This band kicks and unbelievable amount of ass. They are a hybrid of punk and prog, in your face and screaming when the Mars Volta would be off noodling. Singer Johnny Noís spirit animal is a jackal, and to him the audience is raw meat. He spent as much time on top of the crowd as in front of it, wailing through a vocal effects pedal. Their debut record Out of Africa is great, one of my favorite rock records of the year, but it doesnít nearly do the bandís live performance justice. I couldnít help but wonder if Johnny watched the set before, if he knew how many times Glose wiped the sweat from his ass crack and balls and then smeared it all over the mic. If there was any guy at Total Fest who wouldnít care though, it would probably be Johnny.


Having done time in the Bellingham music scene, Iíve been a big Federation X fan for years. They never got the respect they deserved as a great Northwest band, but I guess they also were never really striving to get it. It was odd then to have them headlining the final night of such a huge festival, with their performance being touted as their only show of 2008. Other than friends from Bellingham, Iíve never met any out-and-out Fed X fans, so it was a pleasant surprise to see a full crowd of people dancing and chanting along to their songs. The band was obviously and sometimes painfully rusty, like when they butchered my favorite song of theirs ďGone Too Long,Ē but the crowd didnít really seem to mind. Eventually the band hit their stride and nailed the first two tracks off of American Folk Horror to end the set. I donít even know if Federation X would have even gotten a sing along in Bellingham, but in Missoula their performance was an excuse for an excited crowd to go all out. It was a pleasantly unexpected end to a not-unexpectedly fantastic festival. The amount of grass-roots planning and hard work that went in to Total Fest by the music lovers of Missoula and Wantage Records is an exemplary and all too rare feat. It was an oasis of awesome in an otherwise dog shit summer. Big thanks to Lou and Wendy for letting me and my crew crash their house for three beer-soaked days. We had a hell of a time.

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even though there were a few problems and i seemed mad... we had a fucking blast!!!! the best time ever. the bands , wantag and the spectators were so amazing. i pray to the dear gods wantag asks us back next year.

Posted by partman parthorse | August 18, 2008 12:15 AM

As a 5-year veteran of Totalfest it's pretty easy to say that this was the best year ever. Attendance was jam packed both nights and every single band seemed to take it up a notch.

While still heavy on the "dude rock" it was awesome to see bands like the Trucks, Ex-Cocaine, Razz M'Tazz and Black Velvet Elvis broaden the musical boundaries a bit.

Meeting Fred and Toody from Pierced Arrows was a highlight for me. If you can't get down with them or their music then there is something sick and wrong with you.

Posted by Jeff | August 18, 2008 12:28 AM

It's all about KAZ, and it's always been all about KAZ. Nice to see The Stranger finally showing a little sense. Props to the proper.

That's all I'm saying.

Posted by Matthew | August 18, 2008 2:44 AM

TotalFest was definitely awesome.

Posted by A | August 18, 2008 9:28 AM

Missoula and Wantage know how to do shit right!

Posted by Jamie Hellgate | August 18, 2008 1:19 PM

Um, it's Wšntage, PMPH. Maybe if you spell it right they'll ask you city slickers back.

Posted by Miss Oula | August 18, 2008 1:45 PM

thanks miss oula... i shall blame my lack of spelling abilites to lack of sleep and damaged brain cells

Posted by partman parthorse | August 18, 2008 1:47 PM

Thanks to everybody to who drove, played, paid, donated, housed, volunteered, or in some non-passive, value-addition sort of way made Total Fest VII go off well. Our attendance was the best it's ever been, and our band pay (though certainly modest by other standards) was a fest-best. We loved having no age limitations, and though we don't have stats to back it up, I saw a lot of Xs on hands. See you next August and look for a post about submissions at some point in the winter. Lots of awesome bands are going to be "two-yeared" out for a year, so we'll be looking to newcomers to bring the fury.

Posted by Josh Vanek | August 18, 2008 3:06 PM

I second JV's BIG THANKS to all who helped in one way or another to make this year's Total Fest the best ever! Another THANKS to you Jeff for keeping the love-line from Seattle to Missoula taut with your kind words and dedication to making it out for our favorite summer activity. See all you NW geeks again, Aug 2009!

Posted by Nicole Payton | August 18, 2008 4:31 PM

And I would like to thank the Pasties for the fucking awesome tater tots pin.

Posted by milli | August 19, 2008 9:20 AM

Why is there no mention of you preying on innocent women and making them get hella stoned? I saw you do that.

And I maintain that you were channeling Mike Muir at the end of your Rad Touch set.

This year was so amazing, I'm still reeling from it. My mind was repeatedly blown.

Posted by starbird | August 19, 2008 8:20 PM

As one who loves the rocker boys I have to say I appreciate the amount of pale, tattooed man-skin flashed during this year's Totalfest. I don't even think people got this naked when they shut us all in the VFW hall that one year with nothing to drink but warm water and cold Sparks.

Not to say I was a fan of all of the penis action. Though, it was fun to watching the boys in the audience casually avert their eyes and try not to look too disgusted.

Posted by Hollie | August 19, 2008 10:54 PM

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