Friday, August 24, 2012

6 TOTALED! - A blurry stumble through (most of) Total Fest XI (Part 2)

TOTALED! - A blurry stumble through (most of) Total Fest XI by Jake Weller. All Photos by Mellisa Bird

Missed Part 1? Read it HERE.

Saturday, August 18th – Day Three:

RECORD SWAP – Like vinyl?  Missoula's all about that shit.  Bands play, records sell, geeks commune.  I bought some Wantage LPs, including Last of the Juanitas, the Sedan/Thrones split 12”, and a 7” by Northwest legends, The Whip.  Holy crap – Joe Preston didn't even play here this year.  I bought his stuff anyway. SRG’s James Ballinger probably bought his weight in vinyl.  He’ll be feeling that one in the wallet for a while. But hey, that’s Total Fest!

IRON LUNG / TORCHE (Round 2) – Nik and I mosied our way out to a clandestine house party across the river to catch Big Eyes, Iron Lung, and Torche at the gnarliest punk shack I had ever stepped foot inside.  Imagine concrete floors, caked in mud and...other stuff, piles of beer cans (like, serious piles) dotted around the exterior AND interior, gaping holes in the walls and ceilings, decrepit bike skeletons, bear shit, litter, graffiti, broken windows, a barbie in a noose hanging from the porch...  It was actually kind of beautiful in its fuckall hardcore spirit until somebody brought a baby and let it crawl around in the gutterpunk detritus, allowing it to coat itself in cigarette ash/playa-fine dust and co-mingle with the various feral animals sunbathing around the yard (Steve from Torche especially took umbrage with this and eventually intervened).  The bands played in the coolest part of the house – the basement – which was quickly filled in with sweaty, eager, rocker bodies.  The short sets were merciful, given the heat and filth in the environment, but left many of us wanting more. Torche played a(n almost) completely different set than the night before, much to the crowd's collective boner.  Sadly, we had already missed Big Eyes (again!) by the time we showed up.

We strolled over to the band barbecue afterwards to relax in the shade and eat pork…or chicken.  It was a white meat, at least, and it got itself eaten with a quickness.  We left after a while to find the VFW and catch the Dreamdecay set.

DREAMDECAY (Olympia, WA) – One of the best bands I saw all weekend.  Epically triumphant, with thick bass, screaming guitar strains, and proud, though minimal bellowing vocals from the trenchant drummer.  Still, they managed to bring a refreshingly garage feel to the over-populated (and typically over-produced) post-etc. genre.  These guys are from Olympia?  Fuck.

Back to the Badlander/Palace...

GAY WITCH ABORTION (Minneapolis, MN) – Made me think of what Lightning Bolt must have sounded like when they started playing in their parents’ garage, if such a thing ever happened.  Raw and intense veteran duo who somehow haven’t lost their head-strong creative spark that seems to only exist in those first hopeful years of a new band.

BUILDINGS (Minneapolis, MN) – Nik and I had both pumped each other up a bit about Buildings.  During our brief research period leading up to Total Fest, Buildings looked to be that band that could come out of left-field to slap us silly.  They did not disappoint.  I can’t wait until they make it out to Seattle someday.  Their brash brand of noise rock is all the rage with the cool kids around these parts, and I’m sure we’d show them a great time.  I wanted to give them a card that simply read:

Jake Weller

In fact, I'm going to make some of those for next year.

LOZEN (Tacoma, WA) – I have to apologize to Lozen for getting a little tipsy around the merch table and trying to convince them that their latest album, Para Vida, is fugginawesome.  “No, it’s awesome, you guys.  Great job.  Really!  It’s totally awesome!”  Despite an annoying character flaw, I was speaking the truth: it’s totally awesome.  I don’t know if Missoula was expecting much out of the female duo when they took the stage, but they were clearly blown away from the first note on.  One of the best sets all weekend.

SANDRIDER (Seattle, WA) – I don’t know what the Total Fest committee was smoking when they scheduled Sandrider to begin a scant fifteen minutes before Harkonen on separate stages, 100 feet apart, but their silly plans didn’t take into account that both bands know each other, have mouths, and can speak the same language.  Harkonen was nice enough to burn through their sound check and head downstairs to sit through the entirety of Sandrider's set as they blazed up some of the greatest riffs of all time.  Seriously, fuck “Paranoid,” the opening of “Children” should be tabbed out in every fifth issue of Guitar World.

HARKONEN (Seattle/Tacoma, WA) – It’s Harkonen – what do I need to say here?  Beer, sweat, riffs.  They killed it, and it was a violent and gorgeous death.

Here's a fun fact: the best time to try complicated early-90s dance moves and listen to The Cars is at the end of Total Fest.  This was the back-alley entertainment for a good twenty minutes after the last notes finally died out.  Sobriety had not been invited to Missoula this night, I assure you.

I made the mistake of catching a ride to an after-party, where a lovely backyard fire pit had been lit and music fans and artists convivially chatted about the immediate good times.  Like a fool, I quickly impaired my ability to be around people for the remainder of the evening (thanks, TEQUILA), and after the police decided we had quieted down enough for me to venture out and find the exit, I successfully navigated the 2 miles back to the hotel by foot (only took me about 4 miles!).  Luckily, the rest of the SRG crew had left 45 minutes later than I and met me at the door to the room at the exact same time.  It was kismet, or something, I don't know... Nik bought some Fritos from the vending machine and I passed out... 

I dreamt of hearty riffs and awoke with impassioned screams and soaring melodies resonating in my ears.

I can’t wait until next year; my calendar is already blocked out.  You should totally come with us.


  1. Love the fan card idea. Do it!

  2. Rad re-cap, all in all, but word to the wise: even my incredibly non-discerning buddies are boycotting the Oxford these days. Next year, go to Philly West across from the Badlander.

  3. Thanks for the tip, Kate! Will be there!

  4. do you already know the days of the next Total Fest!?

    also: ROCK 'N ROLL MANTASY!!!

    1. Yes, it's August shmermerer... Sometime in August.



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