The organizers of Camp Daze debuted their do-it-yourself music festival two years ago with no particular intentions to carry it into future years. Nickolas Hawksley had spent a summer shadowing an organizer at Boise's Treefort Music Fest and was inspired to create an event of his own. He and Kale Huseby, who play together in the band BOYS, joined forces with artist friends Foster Caffrey and Andrea Wyman, and they came up with the idea of doing a festival that evoked the lazy days of summer.
"It has that barbecue-and-best-friends vibe," Hawksley says.
Total Fest, a three-day independent music festival that first started in 2001, proved that Missoula could support and grow such an event. Last year, the organizers of Total Fest, which is a nonprofit, decided to move on and put the festival to rest, but not for lack of interest. At their twilight, they were getting hundreds of band submissions from across the country and bringing in crowds from all over the Northwest. Camp Daze seems like just the thing to fill the hole Total Fest left behind. It encompasses a different soundless sludge and metal, more pop and shoe-gaze—which makes it feel like its own animal rather than a substitute for anything else. This year, Camp Daze is dealing with a bigger budget (besides other local sponsors, Total Fest gave Camp Daze its blessing via some of its own funds), more bands, more venues and an extra day. In anticipation of the all-ages four-day fest, we give you a roundup of must-see acts for those who miss Total Fest and those who are ready to move on.
Live it up with Terror Pigeon!
Terror Pigeon! released its debut album in 2010 on David Byrne's label. The album's title: I love you! I love you! I love you and I'm in love with you! Have an awesome day! Have the best day of your life! The exclamation- and emoji-happy collective, which revolves around musician Neil Fridd, hails from Nashville and plays sunny, poppy, melodramatic dance music, just as you might have suspected. "Girl!" off their 2014 release, Live It Up Before You Die It Up!, is full of completely uncynical sentiments about love, like, "I wanna be there when you wake/ I wanna be there when you need/ I wanna be there when you laugh/ I wanna be there when you sleep." Their most recent release, Yucksongs!, continues with the exclamations and positive, amped-up dance tunes that don't have a mainstream sheen. Those who have enjoyed Total Fest bands like Japanther and No-Fi Soul Rebellion will appreciate the wild abandon of the songs (and possible group hugs).
Mommy Long Legs don't even know you
Seattle's Mommy Long Legs don't mince words. In the song "Assholes," from their recent EP, they admonish everyone from CEOs to football fans, singing, "You can take your money and put it in your asshole/ You can take your goddamned financial plan and jerk yourself off." What's perfect about the band is that their lyrics and delivery are as funny as they are biting. "Do you believe in God?/ Who do you think made the internet?" they chide. "I'm not gonna tip you! I don't even know you," they yell, like kids on a playground. The brat-punk songwriting is catchy and the stage show (I hear) is lively. For those who love high-energy bands with a mischievous sense of humor, like Sasshole or Chastity Belt, Mommy Long Legs is a must.
One element of Total Fest that always felt necessary was the Saturday afternoon show at the Big Dipper. It was a chance to unwind away from the bar scene (and maybe nurse a hangover) in a family-friendly atmosphere while still getting your thirst for live music quenched. Camp Daze has a similar event planned at Zootown Brew on Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8 with whimsical folk of Missoula-by-way-of-Alaska's Gerygone & Twig, Boise's chamber-folk artist Tisper and San Francisco's The Yellow Dress, which features melancholy pop riffs and saxophone.
Out-of-town bands often get most of the hype when it comes to music festivals. But I'd wager that many local music fans have yet to experience the full smorgasbord of solidly worthwhile acts who live right here. This weekend offers a golden opportunity to catch up on what our town's music scene has to offer, including newer groups like Mido Skip, Tiny Plastic Stars, Eat Strike and Holy Totem as well as veteran bands like Rooster Sauce who played Total Fest in 2009. No more excuses to miss what sometimes seems like our best-kept secrets.
In a 2015 video directed by Whitey McConnaughy (Red Fang, OFF!, Superchunk), Summer Cannibals frontwoman Jessica Boudreux gets a new haircut and tattoo, interrupts a coffeehouse acoustic show with a guitar solo, then kills a dude—all in the name of getting over a relationship. The song, "Something New," from their album Show Us Your Mind, is funny and swaggering, and it goes to show why the Portland band has been getting so much hype over the past year. Their new album Full Of It, just came out on Kill Rock Stars and it sounds like KRS of yore—fuzzy, Breeders-like rock and roll.
You'll find a lot of bands at Camp Daze that fit into the shoe-gaze and shiny-pop category—really great ones, like Brooklyn's Florist and Boise's Western Daughter—but if you're missing some of the driving rock and roll that made Total Fest, Summer Cannibals is one of several outfits that will have you grinning from ear to ear—and looking forward to the future of Camp Daze.
Camp Daze features over 50 bands at the Zootown Arts Community Center, Palace, VFW and Zootown Brew Thu., June 2–Sun., June 5. $50 day of festival/ $40 advance pass. $10 per individual show. Visit campdazemusic.com for full schedule and tickets. All-ages.