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Total Fest’s 13 most memorable moments
Featuring toilet paper, Big Business, veggies, Sparks and a band from Down Under
Total Fest I: Local favorite Volumen is among the first to play the first Total Fest and, according to festival founder Josh Vanek, “sets the tone for all TFs to come.” “Volumen is a band that I think only comes along once or (I hope) twice in a lifetime,” Vanek says of the group, which last played live in 2009.
Total Fest III: Big Business plays its first Total Fest. The band had recently put out its first releases and still lived in Seattle, but the members had yet to join the Melvins. Big Business returned for Total Fest two years ago.
Total Fest IV: Due to a summer heat wave, the beer runs dry at the American Legion Hall and attendees turn to a different alcoholic beverage: Sparks malt liquor energy drink. To this day these crowds are considered the most boisterous in Total Fest history.
Total Fest VII: Johnny No Moniker from the Fleshies sings one song from a Badlander bathroom stall. He eventually emerges with a roll of toilet paper that he unravels as he crawls around on the Badlander floor while still singing, of course.
Total Fest VII: The early 1990s are alive and well again in 2008 when Pat Phlymm, formerly of the Missoula bands Poop and The Banned, returns home with his Seattle band, Kled. Phlymm sports tight shorts with the word “juicy” printed on the ass, wears his hair in pigtails and sings in a creepy kid voice while grinning like the Cheshire cat. A man named “Miss America,” another staple of Missoula’s 1990s music scene, creeps around the stage wearing a drawn-on mustache and a too-tight yellow banana hammock. The weird scene freaks out newbies and strangely comforts those who remember Phlymm’s earlier days.
Total Fest VII: Miss Lana Rebel plays an impromptu set in the walk-through space between the Badlander and Palace, before it was the Central Bar and now Dickey’s Barbecue. The spontaneous performance greets arrivals “like a board to the head when they walked into the room,” says Vanek.
Total Fest VIII: Brooklyn’s Japanther spends 10 minutes chopping vegetables and blending drinks on stage before playing its set. The unconventional move turns off part of the crowd while delighting others because of its sheer weirdness.
Total Fest IX: Sasshole reunites for Total Fest having not played since 2005. The almost-all-girl band was best known back in the Jay’s Upstairs days for its sassy stage presence and crass rock anthems—and, most notably, for dumping kitty litter all over the Jay’s floor during one show. (They were forced to sweep it up). During the reunion, the band reenacts the moment with a bag of corncobs and peanut shells that proves much easier to clean.
Total Fest IX: No-Fi Soul Rebellion, famous for its audience participation, brings the entire crowd to its knees—literally. Mark Heimer, who sings to his own pre-recorded beats, walks and crawls through the audience before enticing everyone to get down on one knee, clap in unison and then lay on the floor.
Total Fest IX: Jeff Ament’s former Missoula hardcore band, Deranged Diction, closes out Total Fest with a set celebrating the re-release of its 1983 EP, No Art, No Cowboys, No Rules. The Pearl Jam bassist and his fellow DD bandmates pack the Palace Lounge to capacity.
Total Fest X: The drummer from Unstoppable Death Machines is held aloft by the crowd–along with much of his drumset–and continues to play with a little help from the audience.
Total Fest X: Dead, from Melbourne, Australia, becomes the first overseas (i.e., non-Canadian) band to play Total Fest. They return this year.
Total Fest X: Missoula’s Bad Naked, aka Dane Hansen, plays his usual set of off-key singalong tunes at the Top Hat, wearing barely anything. After lighting off fireworks inside the venue and littering the floor with hot dogs and other debris, he is kicked out of the venue.
Compiled from Total Fest committee members and Indy staff