Total Fest XII: A recap, of sorts

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Hey everybody. Coming down from the wild, sweaty, beer-choogling section of space and time that is Total Fest XII.

Modality, photo by Michael Workman
  • Modality, photo by Michael Workman

At this writing, I’m barely coherent (just ask my roommate, who made the mistake of knocking on my door on Sunday afternoon) so here’s some highlights for your easily digestible pleasure. There were many other astoundingly hilarious events, too many to catalog (or not suitable for family audiences). Here’s some that come to mind.

Some very cute, polite young guys showed up on Friday while I was working the door. I very briefly assumed they were local high school students. Then they said they were Media Blitz, the insanely rad OC hardcore band, and I got really excited. They played a ferocious set, all Los Crudos-speed hardcore with occasional bursts of insane metal soloing, and then got off stage and resumed being polite. Seeing them again six hours later at the warehouse afterparty was also delightful, though I do not very distinctly remember that set.

Norska played on Friday night. I hadn't listened to any of their stuff, but when I realized that one Jason McMackin, former Indy calendar editor, whose taste in music I trust infinitely, was extremely excited, and that the lead singer of Norska looked like a slightly scaled down, equally beardy version of Mr. McMackin, that I needed to be there. And, wow, I was not prepared for that titanic wave of supreme Viking metal. I saw the dudes, all very gentle and quiet, the next day hanging out. I presume they got on their longboat and sailed back to whatever mystical land they hail from afterward.

I talked to a couple bands (Burn Burn Burn and Hoverbikes, both super party punks) who were playing Total Fest for the first time, and they all had nothing but really nice things to say about how cool the festival was. So, Missoulians, I think our evil plan to get awesome bands to want to tour here more often will work out nicely.

On Saturday night, I bought PBRs for the Helms Alee gals, and yell-talked about how they’re an inspiration and I love seeing women play awesome metal, right before I jumped in front for Red Fang and rawked out arm-in-arm with a bunch of rad chicks and dudes. It was so sweaty. It was like moshing in a sweat slip-in-slide with eels. Eels with some sharp elbows. When I got out of the Badlander, my tank top was completely soaked with sweat and beer.

Vile Blue Shades were excellent, though the crowd for that wasn’t very big, since young’uns these days do not know of the wonder and glory that is VBS. More bands need gogo dancers, dammit.

Guantanamo Baywatch played the fest for the first time last year during an early slot at Zoo City Apparel (RIP, sigh) and I knew if they came back this year and played later, it would be wild. The awesome surfy trio closed out the VFW on Saturday nite, and it was packed and groovy. Definitely the set with the most people making out in the crowd.

Also by Saturday, I was really starting to flag, despite my best attempts at hydrating and caffeinating. Sure, I could’ve gone to bed, but dammit, everything just gets more fun the later it happens in the evening. The trick is to stay moving, stay dancing and keep drinking. Every time I started to get tired, I would crack another beer. And that, friends, is how I wound up thrashing around to Hundred Visions at the Hammer Haus afterparty. And it was kind of a blessing that the cops showed up at 4 AM, because I was at the point where I couldn’t stop until somebody made me.

It was immensely cool to be part of the Total Fest committee. So cool that I was daunted to be part of it, agreed to do way more than I actually had time for, felt really guilty all the time, and probably made a lot of terrible awkward jokes because I don’t know how to not be awkward. Also, it is nearly a year-round goddamn job for a lot of people to put on Total Fest. I spent plenty of time on it, but it’s a drop in a sweaty ocean compared to how much work the head honchos like Josh and Kari put in.

So if I ever, theoretically, had whined a wee bit about volunteering, somebody should have mentioned that I would get a free T-shirt and be allowed to boss around punk bands. Instantly made it all totally (ha!) worth it.

It’s funny ’cause, as I get older, I find myself getting too tired for punk rock shenanigans. I’ve noticed that I have to take it easier at shows, which is really depressing. Chugging beer, jumping into a crazy pit and butt-rawking is basically my favorite thing ever; but I can’t do it as much these days without waking up feeling like a pile of garbage.

But for this, the twelfth annual Total Fest, I raged it up and danced hard and stayed out til 4 AM three nights in a row, and I am goddamn happy about it. I’m getting older! But I’m going to enjoy the hell out of stuff as much as I can! Thanks for being awesome, Missoula.

A (much less coherent) version of this post appeared on Missoula Punk News.

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