Sunday, August 22, 2010

Total Fest IX: The end

Posted By on Sun, Aug 22, 2010 at 11:57 AM

Total Fest ended last night after 18 bands played over the course of five hours starting with Deny the Dinosaur? and ending with Deranged Diction. The final night seemed more lively than ever with all six bars in the building (yes, six!) packed with meandering crowds of people clutching Pabst pounders. And the good things is, the music lived up to what a fireworks finale should.

The two-piece Seattle band Chinese played loud, fast, grinding instrumental music that could be the soundtrack to one long and bloody chase scene—no chorus-verse-chorus nonsense just a speedy, raucous gallop from point A to point B. Missoula duo Bacon & Egg kicked its drum machine into action, and even when the drums cut out at one point no one lost composure. In his classic quick-witted humor, guitarist Bob Marshall gave a short sermon on how when material things break, you realize you don't need them anyway before nonchalantly launching into the next song.

No-fi Soul Rebellion
  • No-fi Soul Rebellion

Bellingham, Wash.'s No-fi Soul Rebellion brought the crowd to its knees. Literally. Mark Heimer, who sings to his own pre-recorded beats, spent most of the time in the audience sweating and getting up in people's faces. At one point Heimer called for everyone to join him on one knee, and most everyone in the crowd complied, kneeling down making the room look like the set of one massive marriage proposal. At another point Heimer had the whole crowd, hands above their heads, clapping in unison. It was a vision of spirited audience participation.

Sizzling sets from bands like Seattle's TacocaT and Texas band White Drugs punctuated the bustling evening with even more energy.

The most thrilling part of the night? No surprise: It was seeing local band Sasshole reunited on stage. The band hasn't played since 2005, and they were most active in the late 1990s. Things didn't start out perfect. Bassist Milli Thompson had to switch out her amp after realizing she couldn't bring it back to life. During the wait, singer Kia Lizsak cracked smartass comments including, “We're Sasshole and if you expected anything different from us, then you're fucking dumb.” The band then launched into sloppy punk songs like “The Faster You Drive the Harder I Suck” and the Sasshole song, which goes, “We're gonna fuck you up! We're Sasshole.” At the end of the set the band reenacted a favorite Sasshole memory by dumping a bag of kitty litter onto the dance floor—something they did years ago at one fateful show. Back then, the antic cost them a night of cleaning and some scolding. This time the bag was filled with an assortment of peanut shells, corn cobs and other unidentifiable yet innocuous objects. It was a nice symbol of a band that's grown up a little bit—but not enough to take the fun out of anything.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Total Fest IX: Night two of rock

Posted By on Sat, Aug 21, 2010 at 1:14 PM

If Thursday provided a good introduction to Total Fest, last night proved the crazy amount of energy the indie rock festival is capable of generating. Everything great about the first night was amplified on the second. The crowds were bigger, the bands were more numerous, and both the Palace and Badlander boasted a dual-stage setup, allowing for a dizzying amount of choice in evening entertainment. It’s enough to make me wish I could split in two and catch every band.

I started the evening out at the Badlander with the excellent Bird’s Mile Home. Playing first in the scheduled line-up seems to be a rough gig; the audience is too sparse, too detached, and too sober. But Bird’s Mile Home owned the stage regardless. With a ripping guitar and deliciously swooping cello, they reminded me a bit of fellow country-western-punk balladeers Murder by Death. That’s almost always a good thing in my book.

Streetlight People
  • Streetlight People

Sneaking down to the Palace, I managed to catch the tail end of Streetlight People’s set. I was glad I did. Their infectiousness inspired all but the most sullen bystanders to some variety of dance. Up next, Miss Lana Rebel brought a welcome mellow vibe to the stage. After all the bluster and hyperactivity, it was great to chill out with some great country. With her easy smile and slight southern drawl, Lana wielded a charming stage presence that was kind of irresistible.

Sugar Sugar Sugar took the first stage next at the Palace. Even those adverse to the genre would be hard-pressed to deny these hard rockers their status as instrument virtuosos. The guy in front of me certainly agreed. His excitement every time Sugar Sugar Sugar laid out a new hook was reminiscent of a kid on Christmas Day, and he expressed his approval with his patented rock moves: the reverse headbang, the air guitar and the hip pivot (that’s all you need to know). I admired his enthusiasm. However, every time he tossed his golden curls of envied hair back in my direction, I couldn’t help but imagine the artillery barrage of dandruff that he likely launched my way.

One night left to go and, so far, Total Fest has been an invigorating and incredibly fun experience. I walked away with a music high and several new bands to follow. If next year finds me living outside of Missoula, I just might have to make the pilgrimage back and enjoy my sophomore year as a Total Fest devotee.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Total Fest IX: Notes from the mosh pit

Posted By on Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 10:49 AM

I have a confession that may hurt my status with the hip and happening of Missoula: I have never before been to Total Fest. Despite the fact that I love live music and certainly don’t object to tossing back a few, circumstances have kept me away from one of Missoula’s quintessential music events. That is, until now.

My first order of business was to catch Japanther at the Missoula Art Museum. This is the first year that the museum has been used as a venue, and sure enough, a blisteringly loud punk rock show amidst some of Missoula’s best artwork is an experience all its own. I gave Japanther’s latest album, Rock ‘n’ Roll Ice Cream, quite a positive review, and the duo lived up to their fine recording with quirks like telephones converted into microphones. During the band's set, some poor hipster kid jumped backward and wheeled around into me. He looked at me for a moment with big, brown, empty cow eyes. If there was a sentient thought in that noggin, it was thoroughly masked behind a glaze of pot and booze.

An artsy photo for an artsy venue: Japanther plays the Missoula Art Museum
  • Cameron Rasmusson
  • An artsy photo for an artsy venue: Japanther plays the Missoula Art Museum

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Not on the green list

Posted By on Thu, Aug 19, 2010 at 11:11 AM

Neither the University of Montana nor Montana State University made the Sierra Club’s latest list of top 100 greenest schools in the nation. 4 & 20 Blackbirds’ Pete Talbot just reported on it, asking the question of why we’re not there yet.

This artist rendering shows a proposed building for UM’s College of Technology (COT).
  • This artist rendering shows a proposed building for UM’s College of Technology (COT).

A recent feature in the Indy, It’s Not Easy Going Green, analyzed some of the difficulties UM’s facing in its quest to go carbon neutral by 2020—a goal that is detailed in the school’s climate action plan released in April of this year. The school faces problems that any campus faces in its early stages, when first trying to pinpoint emissions and find solutions.

If UM reaches its goals, it could make the Sierra Club’s list a decade (or sooner) from now.

The Sierra Club’s top five greenest colleges:

Green Mountain College (Poultney, Vt.)
Dickinson College (Carlisle, Pa.)
Evergreen State College (Olympia, Wash.)
University of Washington (Seattle, Wash.)
Stanford University (Stanford, Calif.)

UPDATE: After speaking with Sustainability Coordinator for UM's Office of Sustainability, it turns out UM did not send in a survey to the Sierra Club—which explains one very good reason the school didn't make it on the list. Last year, UM did send in a survey and ended up 50 out of 135 schools for being green. Peacock says this year she sent in a green survey to the Princeton Review, among others, which won't show results until later this year.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The truth about gun-toting soccer moms in Montana

Posted By on Wed, Aug 18, 2010 at 6:00 PM

If you haven't seen the gun story from this morning's Washington Post Style section yet, here's your chance. It's sort of about Sens. Jon Tester and John McCain getting in the way of D.C.'s 32-year ban on handguns (an entirely legitimate topic of conversation). But since Tester and McCain declined interviews, it's mostly about promoting New West stereotypes of "gun-toting soccer moms," "redneck liberals" and dads who buy pink rifles for their 6-year-old daughters.

Missoula's own Gary Marbut makes an appearance, of course. As does the measure he spearheaded during the last legislative session:

The full embrace of firearms is just as fervent to the north in Montana, where nearly two-thirds of all households have firearms. Montanans feel so strongly about their right to own guns for hunting, fending off grizzlies and — if it comes to it — fellow humans that lawmakers passed a measure last year that challenges the federal government's authority to regulate guns made and kept in their state.

Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, Aug 18, 2010 at 9:00 AM

Find Rob Brezsny's Free Will Astrology online, every Wednesday, one day before it hits the Indy's printed pages.

ARIES (March 21-April 19):
In the 18th century, the French Academy laid down rules about the differences between professional and amateur paintings. For example, it was decreed that true artists must create a “licked surface,” hiding all evidence of their brushstrokes. The illusion was more convincing that way; viewers could sink their attention fully into the image without being distracted by thoughts about the artist’s process. When the Impressionists barged into the scene in the 1870s, one of their rebellions against convention was to reject the licked surface. By making some of their brushstrokes visible, they declared they weren’t interested in upholding the artifice. They wanted their audience to get involved in their subjective interpretation of the scene that was portrayed. In the coming week, Aries, I encourage you to be like the Impressionists. Forget about trying to present a licked surface. Reveal the inner workings that are whirling and humming behind your eyes.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Idaho judge issues restraining order on Conoco shipments

Posted By on Tue, Aug 17, 2010 at 5:55 PM

Second District Court Judge John Bradbury in Idaho today issued a temporary restraining order blocking the four high-and-wide loads ConocoPhillips has proposed to ship through the Clearwater-Lochsa Corridor into Montana en route to the company's refinery in Billings. The order was announced by Boise-based nonprofit Advocates for the West, which filed a lawsuit to halt the transportation project yesterday on behalf of three Lochsa River residents, and forbids the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) from issuing permits for the shipments citing concerns of the "great danger" they may cause. Bradbury also stated the ITD might be "violating its own regulations" by approving the project.

The judge's decision wasn't entirely good news for those represented by Advocates for the West. Bradbury also ordered the group to post a $3,000 bond to cover any costs ITD might incur if the restraining order is lifted during an injunction hearing this Friday. Advocates for the West is asking for donations from anyone opposed to the project. Meanwhile, ConocoPhillips' equipment continues to sit at the Port of Lewiston, and ExxonMobil is planning a similar transportation project involving 200 high-and-wide loads—destined for the Kearl Oil Sands operation in Alberta—for later this year.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Land Board approves Spotted Dog

Posted By on Mon, Aug 16, 2010 at 12:35 PM

The Montana State Board of Land Commissioners this morning unanimously approved Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks' (FWP) proposal to purchase 27,616 acres in the Spotted Dog complex northeast of Deer Lodge from the Rock Creek Cattle Company for $15.5 million. The proposal also includes a $148,869, 10-year grazing lease from the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation for 10,260 acres in the Spotted Dog, as well as a five-year maintenance fund of $1.2 million. The additional expenses bring the total cost of the acquisition to more than $16.6 million, which FWP intends to fund through the state's Natural Resource Damage Program.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer, one of the Land Board's five voting members, has repeatedly presented the purchase as an "extraordinary opportunity to protect the permanent interests of the people of western Montana." He has all but guaranteed that the Spotted Dog acquisition, rushed to the top of numerous state agency's agendas this summer, will go through by fall. For more on the story, catch our print edition this Thursday.

Extra, extra: In Other News, online

Posted By on Mon, Aug 16, 2010 at 9:00 AM

In this installment: a parrot's fatal mistake, disappearing old folks and a car chase that would make Michael Bay weep.

Curses, Foiled Again
Three women ran from a Waffle House restaurant in Springfield, Mo., without paying their $39 check, but they didn’t get far before one of them returned, asking for the three purses the women had left behind. She fled when the manager told her she’d have to wait, but the purses contained the women’s identification.

San Francisco police needed only nine minutes to track the man they said snatched an Apple iPhone from a woman’s hand and fled on a bicycle. The phone was being used to test a new, real-time GPS tracking application, which led officers to Horatio Toure, 31, whom the victim identified as the thief.

After Lori Shannon Turner, 39, complained loudly at a McDonald’s restaurant in Spartanburg, S.C., that she hadn’t received a sandwich she ordered and demanded another one, a sheriff's deputy who arrived on the scene noticed Turner had a large grease stain on her pants. When a female officer was called to the scene for a search, Turner removed the missing sandwich from her pants.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Democratic sheriff candidate "likes" the Tea Party (UPDATE)

Posted By on Thu, Aug 12, 2010 at 11:15 AM


The Democratic candidate for sheriff in Missoula County, Brad Giffin, has many "Likes and Interests" listed on his Facebook page, including the Zac Brown Band, Gold's Gym in Missoula, Tea Party Patriots and Sarah Palin.

Wait, what? What's up with those last two?

"Nothing," explained Giffin, who spoke to the Indy while working the Western Montana Fair. "They're on there because I like to follow them. I like to follow a lot of things."

Oh. Okay. But does Giffin consider himself a member of the Tea Party?

"No," he said. "Like I said, I follow many things."

Jason Wiener, chair of the Missoula County Democrats (and a Ward 1 councilman), isn't sure what to make of Giffin's interest in following the Tea Party and Palin.

"I am not a fan of Sarah Palin or the Tea Party," said Wiener. "I do not know any active member of the Missoula Democratic Party that is a fan of Sarah Palin or the Tea Party...I guess I don't know what he would like to follow about them."

Wiener added that if Giffin asks the county Dems for assistance with his campaign, it'd be an issue to discuss with the board.

The Tea Party Patriots — group motto: "ordinary citizens reclaiming America's founding principles" — is currently promoting its "Recycling Government" event, which features Glenn Beck. The Fox News commentator and Palin will be among those at the Lincoln Memorial Aug. 28 to honor "our heroes, our heritage and our future." The Tea Party Patriots list 22 affiliated groups in Montana, including Celebrating Conservatism, Sanders County Patriots for Limited Government and Montana Shrugged.

Giffin's opponents in the November general election are Republican Nick Lisi and Carl Ibsen, who's running as an independent. Lisi has a Facebook page, but he isn't a fan of the Tea Party. Ibsen also has a Facebook page; he's said he's staying away from any party affiliations. Neither Lisi nor Ibsen, by the way, appears to listen to the Zac Brown Band, either.

UPDATE: Sometime over the weekend, Giffin updated his Facebook page. He still likes the Zac Brown Band, but nobody else. Good for Zac Brown?

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