Total Fest ended last night after 18 bands played over the course of five hours starting with Deny the Dinosaur? and ending with Deranged Diction. The final night seemed more lively than ever with all six bars in the building (yes, six!) packed with meandering crowds of people clutching Pabst pounders. And the good things is, the music lived up to what a fireworks finale should.
The two-piece Seattle band Chinese played loud, fast, grinding instrumental music that could be the soundtrack to one long and bloody chase scene—no chorus-verse-chorus nonsense just a speedy, raucous gallop from point A to point B. Missoula duo Bacon & Egg kicked its drum machine into action, and even when the drums cut out at one point no one lost composure. In his classic quick-witted humor, guitarist Bob Marshall gave a short sermon on how when material things break, you realize you don't need them anyway before nonchalantly launching into the next song.
Bellingham, Wash.'s No-fi Soul Rebellion brought the crowd to its knees. Literally. Mark Heimer, who sings to his own pre-recorded beats, spent most of the time in the audience sweating and getting up in people's faces. At one point Heimer called for everyone to join him on one knee, and most everyone in the crowd complied, kneeling down making the room look like the set of one massive marriage proposal. At another point Heimer had the whole crowd, hands above their heads, clapping in unison. It was a vision of spirited audience participation.
Sizzling sets from bands like Seattle's TacocaT and Texas band White Drugs punctuated the bustling evening with even more energy.
The most thrilling part of the night? No surprise: It was seeing local band Sasshole reunited on stage. The band hasn't played since 2005, and they were most active in the late 1990s. Things didn't start out perfect. Bassist Milli Thompson had to switch out her amp after realizing she couldn't bring it back to life. During the wait, singer Kia Lizsak cracked smartass comments including, “We're Sasshole and if you expected anything different from us, then you're fucking dumb.” The band then launched into sloppy punk songs like “The Faster You Drive the Harder I Suck” and the Sasshole song, which goes, “We're gonna fuck you up! We're Sasshole.” At the end of the set the band reenacted a favorite Sasshole memory by dumping a bag of kitty litter onto the dance floor—something they did years ago at one fateful show. Back then, the antic cost them a night of cleaning and some scolding. This time the bag was filled with an assortment of peanut shells, corn cobs and other unidentifiable yet innocuous objects. It was a nice symbol of a band that's grown up a little bit—but not enough to take the fun out of anything.