August 17, 2014
Total Weekend XIII: All I Want Right Now Is Fried Chicken

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Once again this Missoula-place turned into a mecca for the sweater-toothed and right on, it was worth it. It was really worth it, guys. We saw more than we have in years previous, we’re still reeling from minds blown despite the fact our illustrious editor felt like an Old Man for much of the weekend. HELL IS REAL. I’ve been getting there, feeling 10 years older every day for the last week. I’m 203 now. I look awesome. I feel like all I want right now is fried chicken.

So after our favorite-thing-that-happens-in-Missoula is over, what the hell do we do now? No idea. This was kind of a watershed Total Fest for us. You may or may not know this but two Important Missoulians left town. They’ve left marks on festivals past and neither was in attendance. You were missed, Dane “Naked” Hansen and Colin “University” Johnson. It doesn’t help either that Important Missoulian Mikki “Internet” Lunda announced plans to leave town too. I’m beside myself, guys. What are we to do??? I totally understand the need-to-leave but I’m sad and these three folks are/and have left massive holes in our little town. :(

Oh well….still had fun this year. Most memorable to these ears (in no particular order): Dreamsalon, Darto, Chastity Belt, American Cream, Chemical Lawns, the last bit we saw of Shramana, KITTEN FOREVER, J. Sherri, King Lollipop, Toupee, Nerve Beats (wow!), and of course WOLF EYES. Saw some girl that looked like a blonde version of our friend Martha, watched some lady enter the festival with her dog and complain the music was too loud, Reggie Watts crashed the thing again, someone threw up outside, debauch debauch debauch, after parties that were probably amazing that I didn’t go to (Old Man Excuses). Another year, guys. We have to wait another fucking year.

And because I love lists, here’s some cool groups that come to mind should the Total Fest committee have trouble thinking of bands or whatever for next year (no order):

1. Punishment. From Seattle, he’s pretty hard to describe. Some of you may remember the time we brought him to town along with solo-Megabog at the ZACC about a year or something ago.

2. U.S. Girls. From Chicago (or maybe Canada now? dunno). Just listen to her shit and fucking do it already. One of the best.

3. Megabog. Seattle again. In a similar vein with say, Chastity Belt (bring them back too!), and they cover Kevin Ayers so they’re golden in my book(s).

4. Naomi Punk. They live in Olympia now and are thankfully nothing like those joyless poli-prudes that seem to overpopulate the place. The Only Grunge I Like. Killer live, doods. Bring them to this festival.

We could probably think of more but hey, we don’t wanna be too annoying. Bring back all the good bands too, we never get sick of good bands. CYA next year.

August 9, 2014
Weird Missoula’s Total Fest XIII Top Ten With That Stuff

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Missoula Punk News’ Kate Whittle just posted a list of the top ten or so bands she’s anticipating at Total Fest this year. Good idea. We’re just going to take that and run with it it. This is very very loosely ranked, btw.

1. Wolf Eyes (pictured above)I’ve been lucky enough to see Wolf Eyes multiple times in the past and I can attest to the absolutely mind-melting effects their music has in person. You’ll be on the edge of the abyss knowing full well that that abyss is looking right though you (pardon le cliche). You will go insane. Wolf Eyes is easily the heaviest band to have played Total Fest in the history of Total Fests. (playing Saturday, Aug. 16th at The Palace Lounge)

2. Nerve Beats. Who would’ve thunk there’d be a band like Nerve Beats playin’ Total Fest? Not this guy. Nerdy post-punk angular jizz jazz fusion or whatever. Shit’s taught, Wire-y, just up my kind of anti-punk Punk alley. They would totally rule that Punk Alley. Can’t wait. (playing Saturday, Aug. 16th at The Palace Lounge)

3. J.Sherri. Together with Boys (also playing Total Fest this year) and anything Max Roberston is doing, this is my favorite band in Missoula right now. (Re)Joining forces with their drummer Sam (who is a big part of the Sherri’s Prince-esque public language), their performance at Total Fest is something that really shouldn’t be missed. I remember hearing a rumor that one veteran member of the TF committee “doesn’t really get it” but to be honest, I don’t think “getting it” is the point. These kids got the stuff and to define the stuff is to completely misunderstand what the stuff is doing to your groin. (playing Saturday Aug. 16th at Big Dipper during the Record Swap)

4. Dreamsalon. Seattle seems to have a glut of good bands spewing out of the ashes of their ill-advised grunge experiment from howevermany years ago that was. I dunno. I was in middle school. Most kids today touting Nirvana are/were younger BY FAR. Don’t mean to pull out Mr. Older-Wiser, but come on, there are some better ideas floating around in the music ether and Dreamsalon just got that stuff. Dreamsalon = psych rock without all the wishywashy un-fun blokes running down yer good time. (playing Friday, Aug. 15th at The Palace Lounge)

5. Sediment Club. Rhode Island has always been known as the prime purveyors of The Weirdness, The We-Hate-New-York-School, and the General Fucked-Up-Ed-Ness of the East Coast. Sediment Club plays that card and then just pretty well runs with it. We don’t necessarily have a Lightning Bolt on our hands (thank gawd) but we almost have an Arab on Radar. These dudes write some seriously fucked up amalgamations of sound that the better part of me would classify as songs. True Total Fest children, Queen Mab, these guys. (playing Friday, Aug. 15th at The Badlander)

6. Woolen Men. This is for you ten (x50) Burger Records fanatics that probably lose your mind every time Thee Oh Sees come to Missoula. They didn’t come this year? Boo hoo, there are a ton of bands better that have been doing the same damn thing. Woolen Men, they’d tickle your fancy. Garage Rock has been slowly ebbing and flowing since 1963 and dudes, take one last look before you turn 30. This is the soundtrack of the last fun you’re ever able to have before the realities of life, debt, relationships, adulthood, whatever you wanna call it, have destroyed your ability to party. Cheers! To no more parties! (playing Thursday, Aug. 14th at the ZACC)

7. Chastity Belt. Fuck men. No. Seriously. I have it on good authority a person-that-is-well-known-in-Missoula yelled “My friend wants to BONE YOU!” at the guitarist in Chastity Belt while they were playing the Treefort Music Fest in Boise, ID. She belted back “I’m a lesbian!” Fuck you, guys. Come see Chastity Belt and be grateful that such a killer band of Seattle ladies have figured out how to essentially make the late 1980’s indie-rock moment irrelevant. (playing Saturday, Aug. 16th at The Palace Lounge)

8. King Lollipop. Cody, one of the folks I’d tab for BEST GUITARIST EVER is finally gracing Missoula with his superb solo concoction known only as King Lollipop. He’s that dude-voice you’ve heard on every Shannon & the Clams record, btw. Think children-sing-along-doo-wop. This shit is candy-coated and perfect for the record swap Saturday morning/afternoon. (playing Saturday, Aug. 16th at Big Dipper during the Record Swap)

9. American Cream. If anyone’s ever been asking why there isn’t more Krautrock or something you might mistakenly define as Krautrock at Total Fests past, there’s no reason to look no further than American Cream. These Minneapolis weirdos write songs in REAL TIME. Confound your notions as to what a band really is supposed to be with these guys. They too, they got the stuff. (playing Saturday, Aug. 16th at The Badlander)

10. Criminal Code. Read Echo & the Bunnymen + excess chorus, punk, some other shit that sounds nothing like Echo & the Bunnymen, you almost get the idea. Sing like you’ve got a nasal injury. Play guitar like you’ve no idea that chorus is a thing you can use some-of-the-time. It won’t matter. You’ll still rule. You’ll still be Criminal Code. This may be the sound in which we get the closest to Olympia via listening to a band from Tacoma. Check it, dudes. Broken Water a few years or so or whenever ago, Criminal Code is that cool band right now. (playing Saturday, Aug. 16th at The Palace Lounge)

July 1, 2014
Lozen, Qui, Shramana, Fuuls @ The Ole Beck VFW Post #209, Sunday July 6th

Any Total Fest veteran should perk up at the mention of the name LOZEN. They’ve played the fest at least twice (I think) since I’ve lived in Missoula and as a better writer has waxed on these killer ladies better than I, I give you a quote from the Total Blog ala 2012:

Lozen, as a band, has been around since 2005, but their friendship extends further back to those ever so foundational bonds of high school. Taking their name from the Chihenne Chiricahua Apache warrior, the duo melds an isolating vocal cacophony with some well-tested droning sludge. Straight up reinvigorated riot grrrl.
Somehow this all does them a disservice. They’re more unique than reviewers give them credit, and their song writing is more innovative than the easily applied Melvins, Unwound comparisons suggest. As women artists go, we’re still in the habit of trying to make them fit into some pre-established mold. Performative contradictions aside, sure the influences are there and nothing is created in a vacuum, but after almost eight years of playing together and evolving their sound, it’s somewhat degrading to keep throwing out comparison after comparison, as if that somehow legitimates what they’re doing.
Lozen and Qui (who apparently have a pretty sweet Jesus Lizard connection) are playing the Ole Beck VFW Post #209 on Sunday, July 6th along with locals Fuuls and Shramana. Show is starting at 9pm and it’s a $5 cover.

June 26, 2014
We Talked To Needlecraft’s Hana MT For Our First Interview Ever

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We sat down with Needlecraft drummer/founder Hana MT about her move to Oakland, her new band, Hunk Out, and some other cool stuff. The conversation took place via Facebook as Hana was getting ready for and then on her way to work. I edited it a little to make the whole thing read smoother but here goes, the very first Weird Missoula interview:

Weird Missoula: So, how’s the move to Oakland been?

Hana MT: Haha. Ah…I don’t know, it’s been good. Pretty darn good. Very different.

WM: In what way? Just the size?

HMT: Yah, size I guess. There’s just so much going on all the time and it’s pretty sunny out regularly. I skateboard now, haha. And play the saxophone. Big changes.

WM: Oh really? You’re into jazz now? It almost sounds like you’re describing yourself as Bart Simpson.

HMT: Ha! I want to be. Right now I’m just trying to figure it out and play with a as many different people as possible.

WM: Well it sounds like you’re doing pretty well out there.

HMT: Yah, I don’t know. It’s been pretty challenging too. Especially coming from like such a close security blanket of a town as Missoula. But I have made a few good friends so far, that make every day so great. I’m very grateful to be here. 

WM: I know you started Born Yesterday before you left Missoula but you’re playing Total Fest this year. You keeping that band going in Oakland or is it more of a bedroom kinda thing?

HMT: Ya, Born Yesterday changes alot. I have been exploring some different kinds of projects this year and just being expressive. It’s mostly the same though: guitar and drums. Right now I’m trying to work with some friends on doing something more orchestrated for Total Fest. Like, Born Yesterday rules because it’s like therapy, I can do whatever I am feeling and really get something out of it. The last show I played was a Valentine’s Day show at a silly rock and roll show [sic] and so me and my drummer Yacob just wore scary masks and I played no wave guitar underneath a cardboard tombstone with his percussion and screamed for 15 minutes. I think I actually ended up filing all of the strings off my guitar with a rasp by the end of it. Yac and I date too so it was a very special V Day performance. 

WM: So who is in Born Yesterday right now? You’re still working on a lineup for the festival…

HMT: Been playing with Yacob on drums since December and my friends Val (from Night Nurses/Pink Pile) and Jessica (from Pink Pile) are gonna help fill us out on electronics and bass.

WM: Oh! So this won’t be a straight garage band kinda thing?

HMT: No. I have def been straying from that kind of thing. I’ve been listening to a lot of no wave music, especially Mars.

WM: They’re great.

HMT: Still writing pop songs though, just a little bit atonal. Still very into girl groups and harmonies and stuff.

WM: So this latest Needlecraft tour is more than just a farewell to the band? Kind of a farewell to the whole garage rock deal in general?

HMT: NO. NEEDLECRAFT IS HELLA DIFFERENT. Needlecraft is more of a 60’s pop group. We are about having harmonies. And being sassy and empowered. And having really great hair. And being in charge and confident. And being yourself. Ya dig?

WM: Are you excited to be back in town for your release show next week? The songs I’ve heard sound great. Probably some of my favorite recorded work Needlecraft’s done since that split with Oll Breds forever ago.

HMT: Ah…I’m anxious. I don’t know. Ha. I feel like it could be a very overwhelming time but I’m looking forward to seeing some of my favorite people.

WM: There seems to be a lot of hype here in town surrounding this show.

HMT: Really??? Like what? I hoped it would be shrouded in mystery but be powerful like thunder.

WM: Well a lot of people here still really love Needlecraft.

HMT: Aw, I really love Needlecraft.

WM: And like I said earlier, the songs I’ve heard are some of the best recorded versions of Needlecraft I’ve heard to date.

HMT: Yeah dude, I’m so into them too! I think it shows variety!

WM: Variety you say?

HMT: Yes, variety. It’s very hot and cold with a little bit of heart in there. I learned a new drum beat. We get very dramatic.

WM: How’d you get hooked up with Minor Bird (Records, who are releasing Needlecraft’s new album, Hunk Out)? Is that more of Mikki (Lunda, singer in Needlecraft)’s doing?

HMT: No. Marty (Hill, who runs Minor Bird Records) and us all have been pals til death. He booked us our first show when were just babies! He has been a Needlecraft supporter since basically day one.

WM: It’s a shame he’ll never read this interview. He’s almost more of a Luddite than Mikki.

HMT: Ha! We shall see about that.

WM: I’ll make sure he gets to borrow someone’s iPhone for twenty minutes or something. So the new record is called Hunk Out?

HMT: Yeah dude. Hunk out! You know we wrote that song after hanging out with you and Colin (Johnson, of Skin Flowers and Shahs) one time because y’all were wearing tank tops or something.

WM: ?

HMT: Yeah, and then you both just had to prove who was the buffest or something. Ya hunked out.

WM: He’s more buff than me.

HMT: Right now show us.

WM: Well Colin isn’t here but I’m almost certain he can do more pushups than I can.

HMT: Ok, Dr. Science whatever.

WM: I am watching Star Trek 3 right now.

HMT: And I am on a bus in Berkeley right now.

WM: Sounds fairly comparable.

And that’s where we had to leave it. Hana had to work door for some show at a place filled with teenagers. She made a point to mention that Green Day had donated the PA. Thanks, Green Day! 

Needlecraft celebrate the release of their latest LP, Hunk Out, at Stage 112 on Friday, June 26th along with Mass FM, Boys, J.Sherri, and Cool Death. It’s 18+, costs $5 and starts pretty promptly at 10pm.

June 20, 2014
Garage Rock Sale / Mikki’s Birthday / Spikeball Tourney / Camp Daze Fundraiser @ Northside Park, Saturday June 21st

So…I don’t think we’ve mentioned much on the blog about this yet, but Camp Daze is the newest music festival in our stupid weird town. Much like our annual Total Fest, Camp Daze is a semi-DIY, homegrown celebration of local, regional, and touring acts. It’s a little smaller than its big brother but this is the first year these guys have done anything like this. My optimism runs high that this could eventually become a pretty big thing.

Tomorrow (Saturday), a pretty sweet garage sale is gonna be taking place at Northside Park in Missoula. It’s sounds kinda like the Total Fest Record Swap minus a ton of records and plus a lot more random stuff. There’ll be live music featuring neo-R&B(aby) phenoms J. Sherri and inconsistently bearded chanteuse Javier Ryan. It’s Mikki’s (of Pancakes & Needlecraft) birthday and some folks are gonna hold a tournament of some weird lawn game called Spikeball. I have no idea what that is but I’ve been assured it is really fun. The dudes from Boys seem to play the shit out of it so I imagine they’ll be there.

This multi-event including a garage sale, Mikki’s Birthday, a Spikeball Tournament, and a Camp Daze fundraiser will be starting at noon, Saturday June 21st at the Northside Park in Missoula, Montana. It’s totally FREE, assuming you won’t be buying anything. (but don’t do that)

May 26, 2014
Benny & the Jet Rodriguez, Thee Hounds, Idaho Green, and J. Sherri @ The Ole Beck VFW Post #209, Wednesday May 28th

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Some time during that first Thursday of Total Fest last year, through an acid-induced haze and probably after (or before?) Animal Lover played, I was delightfully surprised when this very West Coast-sounding (kinda) pop-punk band with a silly name totally let loose and won me over. It was Benny & the Jet Rodriguez and it’s pretty sweet they’re finally coming back almost a year later. Acid or no, I’m hoping these guys endear themselves to you too.

Benny & the Jet Rodriguez, Thee Hounds, Idaho Green, and J. Sherri play the Ole Beck VFW Post #209 on Wednesday, May 28th. Shows is at 10pm and the cover is $5 for the drinking public and $7 for the kids.

May 21, 2014
Total Fest Is Totally Coming

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We’ve (or I’ve) been exceptionally quiet as of late. A fair amount of life changes are on their way and finding the time to update this blog regularly has pretty much fallen by the wayside. Doesn’t mean we’re not still excited for some killer shows! Total Fest is always the perfect summer bookend to the version of Missoula relatively devoid of the college-folk. It’s that weekend we’re waiting for.

Like every year, Total Fest is doing the slow-roll-out of their lineup via the venerable Total Blog. A number of pretty remarkable acts have already been announced such as Shannon & the Clams, Chain & the Gang, Pissing Contest, Dreamsalon, Born Yesterday, and The Bugs. They’re just scraping away at the tip of the proverbial iceberg so be sure to check out their blog for almost daily updates.

We’ll be chiming in periodically too, as some of the announced acts really read as stand-outs to these ears. Get excited, Missoula. It’s almost the very best time of year!

April 16, 2014
The Men, Silver Palms, Boys @ The Ole Beck VFW Post #209, Wednesday April 16th

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I haven’t done a scientific study, but I’m just gonna go out on a limb here and say when Total Fest alumni come back to town it’s always a party. NY’s The Men are one such band, ripping hard on one of the more killer record labels out there right now (Sacred Bones), ripping hard in some crossbreed of punk, hardcore, and rock that’s infinitely more interesting than any of those on their lonesome…this is one of those NOT TO BE MISSED shows in Missoula this spring and, I guess, tonight!

They’re apparently on tour with Quebec’s Silver Palms which, if their Bandcamp page is any indication, are really pretty awesome. It’s really reminiscent of the Beets’ brand of lo-fi bedroom rock: heavy on the acoustic guitar, bare percussion, that kind of thing. Silver Palms don’t have some of the more cuter tendencies of the Beets but I’m not counting that as a weakness. Jesus, this is a stacked night.

WHOOPS! I looked at the wrong Silver Palms. While that Quebec band of the same name is super cool The Silver Palms playing tonight are from Atlanta, Georgia and sound more like this, kind of an early 90’s Creation Records vibe ala early Oasis or House of Love or something:

The Men, Silver Palms and Missoula’s Boys play the Ole Beck VFW Post #209 tonight, Wednesday April 16th. Doors at 9pm, show at 10pm. $8 cover for the drinking public, $10 for everyone else.

March 20, 2014
Helms Alee, Swamp Ritual, Abe Coley, Chemical Lawns @ The ZACC, Thursday March 20th

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SPRING IS HERE! At least in the sense that killer touring bands aren’t turned away from out Great White North so the gates finally open and we’ll be getting some really good shows all the way through fall. Total Fest alumni and all-around heavy hitting epic-ness Helms Alee are one such band and dude, they’ll be playing the ZACC tonight.

Helms Alee, Swamp Ritual, Abe Coley, and Chemical Lawns play the Zoo Arts Community Center’s basement (the ZACC) tonight, Thursday March 20th. As is every show at the ZACC, this one if 100% all-ages and there will be a no tolerance booze/drugs policy in effect so if that’s the kind of party you need, do it before or after. Tickets were $6 in advance at Ear Candy but considering it’s the day of the show they are now $8. Show gets rolling at 8pm.  

November 8, 2013
VAZ @ The Badlander, Monday Nov. 11th

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Just because we couldn’t stand the rest of the season praying some good touring bands would come through town, Total Fest alumni and NY art-noise-whatevercore veterans Vaz delivers and bruh, it’s coming up soon. The Total Fest dudes themselves wrote a little diddy here and we’re gonna defer to them any authority in speaking about this band. We like em’, yeah, but we’re not so intimately familiar and you, Missoula, deserve to know what’s best.

This song is pretty cool:

Vaz plays The Badlander (we’re pretty sure there are no openers) on Monday, November 11th following Super Trivia Freakout (coincidentally hosted by me) around 10:30pm-11pm. It’s FREE so clock that up to awesome. See you there!