Last night’s three-day independent music extravaganza, Total Fest, kicked off its first night with plenty of metal, punk rock and PBR tall boys. Actually, the Badlander filled up pretty quickly for a Thursday night, which makes me think tonight and Saturday will be wall-to-wall packed.
Locals El Zombi Gato played their collection of raucous tunes dipped in sass and garage rock rawness, while another local band, Red Obelisk straddled a sludgier metal. Listening to Valsalva Meneuver from Kalispell was like going back in a time machine, not just because drummer Matt Lawlor's previous band, Disgruntled Nation, used to be an omnipresent force around Missoula in the 1990s but because their salty, snarly attitude captures 1980s hardcore so precisely.
Filth Mattress from Seattle, Wash. played galloping metal licks, strung together with pummeling bass lines washed with gritty vocals. Blank Its, also from Seattle, delivered grungy punk rock buoyed by buzzing, cartoonish vocals that evoked Meet The Feebles more than the Muppets. And Attitude Problem from Philadelphia closed out the night with their mathy metallic jazziness, bathed in crazy robotic chaos.
The highlight of the night, however, was Spokane’s Jiggywatts. The hip-hop due of James Two (a former Missoulian) and Locke dominated the disco lit stage delivering a tight, utterly enjoyable performance. Their comedic banter and smooth rhymes shuffled up the mood and transported the room into a more relaxed atmosphere, if just for a moment.