Total Fest's finale last night was one to remember. For one thing, numerous bands and out-of-towners kept announcing how unique and fantastic Total Fest is, and reminded us not to take it for granted. Rather than feeling preachy, it actually did remind most of us how lucky we are. Warm and fuzzy.
The night kicked off with a couple of solid gold bands including Goddammitboyhowdy, our local punk rock group originating from the Blackfeet Reservation, who sang songs filled with angst, humor and a refreshingly candid sarcasm. For the last song, several of their buddies hurdled onto the stage and sang gang vocals for the band and the dramatic, lighter-raising moment sent the audience into a dancing fury.
The two guys from Glassell Park 3 dumbfounded their audience with dark hillbilly melodies made entirely from powerful gravelly vocals, banjo guitar (banjo strung with guitar strings) and a drum set with an amped box for a kick drum. Mesmerizing, pure sounds of the mountains mixed with a grittiness akin to Tom Waits.
The Limbs is a one-man-band from Denver, Colo. named John Marcuzzo who plays dirtifed funk tinged with blues and metal. From the inner bar of the Badlander you could barely see him over the massive crowd, but you could see his shadow flailing across the back of the stage, totally wild as he played both drums and guitar.
Mid set, one of the members of the Pine Hill Haints promised to play blindfolded. The humor and theatrics only added to an already incredible sound. Old-timey microphones made their vocals echo in the distance and the musical saw added a ghostliness that few other bands that night emitted.
Thee Hedons played in Missoula bars (namely the legendary Jay's Upstairs) back in the mid 90s, but not beyond that. But the way they played last night made it sound like they'd never stopped playing. Their surfy sound got people shimmying Pulp Fiction-style.
Too many amazing bands to mention. Lozen and Helms Alee both blew the audience away with their hardcore, dingy rock. Helms Alee seems an appropriate name considering how much they made you feel like you were riding the waves on a stormy sea.
Drunk Horse gave a stunning performance, a tornado of noodling guitars and feedback and epic threads of headbanging riffs. That was a journey of sorts, and though they played longer than other bands (not sure if that was planned or not) nobody seemed to mind.
The night ended with Japanther—festival favorites from Brooklyn. Their decision to spend ten minutes blending drinks on stage—cutting up vegetables, blending them in a blender and drinking it—was slightly controversial with some audience members especially considering the festival was already behind schedule and the band had less than the alloted time to play.
Some say they should have dove straight into their signature art punk with all its experimental hooks. But others say, the blender detail was just funny enough to work. I, on the other hand, couldn't even see the stage at this point. People were stacked around it, standing on booths and amps and whatever else they could find. And when the lights came on, no one was ready to leave. As bar staff yelled for everyone to clear out, you could see a little urge to riot in people's eyes, subdued by the realization that all good things come to an end. Until next year.