“That was like Europe in America. We haven’t had that sort of response since France.”
That’s a compliment, and it comes from Seattle’s Akimbo, as reported in music writer Jeff Kirby’s blog for our fellow alt-weekly The Stranger following the band’s memorable closing set at Missoula’s Total Fest. Kirby went on to call the event “one of the best rock festivals” he’s ever attended.
One question for Kirby: What took you so long to catch on?
For anyone who doubted the kick-assedness of Total Fest, last weekend’s three-day extravaganza of metal, punk, folk, reggae, rawk and more—43 bands on four different stages in three venues leaves a lot of room for “more”—put it to a definitive rest.
“It was 99.9 percent successful,” says Niki Payton, a member of Total Fest’s planning committee. “We ran a little late on time so things went deep into the evening, but if that’s the worst thing, I think we did pretty well.”
Um, yeah. And the reason things went late is that most fans couldn’t get enough of each band’s roughly 30-minute set—Akimbo was begged to play an encore (bras were tossed on stage); Olympia’s Old Time Relijun whipped a packed house into a dancing frenzy that outlasted the last song; Fleshies went long because lead singer Johnny No Moniker kept crawling around the floor and wrapping himself in toilet paper; and Salt Lake City’s Vile Blue Shades—“If I had to keep track of who got the most buzz, it’d be them,” Payton says—couldn’t keep fans off the stage as they played two encores. And that was just Friday night.
One of the things that distinguished this year’s event from the previous five was the venue: The interconnected Badlander and Palace catered perfectly to Total Fest’s do-everything appeal. Two stages were set up inside the Badlander for constant music, and the downstairs Palace was converted into an all-ages venue—it was actually a challenge to cover all the ground. And between the two was the “Merch Room”—a vacant restaurant refashioned so bands could hold court at tables and peddle their wares (including TF organizers selling logoed unisex underwear).
It was the sort of weekend from which everyone went home happy—bands were paid more than ever ($180 for tourers; $90 for locals); organizers were showered with much-deserved praise (they work gratis) and fans, who turned out in record numbers, reveled in the delirious notion that this was, impossibly, just a taste of more to come. Vile Blue Shades returns to the Palace Sept. 22, and Old Time Relijun is back the following week. We’d recommend you don’t miss ’em again.