I had the wheel through eastern Montana and subjected my captives to Meshuggah’s Obzen, Maserati’s Inventions For The New Season, and Killing Joke’s 2003 self-titled record (the one with Dave Grohl). Later on Angela drove and for some reason decided that she wanted to hear me singing along to R.E.M. records in the style of Michael Stipe. We made it through track 4 of the IRS Singles Collection (“Walter’s Theme/ King of the Road”) before that got old.
When we drove by Boulder I also made everyone listen to the Hillbilly Hellcats.
I don’t think anyone else was into it.
In short, if you have never driven from Denver to Missoula in one day, I highly do not recommend it. It was pretty during the day:
The name of that pass? HELL GATE.
Later we found out that there is a local high school by the same name. What’s their mascot, we wondered? The Prairie Dogs? The Kittens? The Chipmunks? (Jamie: “Go Chippies!”) No, it’s the HELL GATE KNIGHTS! I can’t imagine they have an easy time filling their football schedule.
Fortunately we did not have a show on Friday night, but even without having to play, we were worn out by the time we rolled in to scoop up Jamie at the airport. To our weary eyes he looked just like a big cuddly teddy bear.
We dropped Sam off at the B&B he was staying at with his much better half/ spiritual advisor Janet and headed downtown to hook up with Paul Hansbarger, one of the festival organizers who was putting us up for the weekend. He was occupied so while we waited Angela and I consumed some eminently edible breakfast food (vegetable omelet with squash, carrots and cauliflower. . . whatever) while Jamie and Melissa took in the antics of the local revelers, who seemed to be performing some sort of impromptu one-act play involving a stop sign, a wheelchair, and a police cruiser. What can I say, it’s a college town.
Her squirmy cuddles were better than a full night’s sleep and a massage.
We hung out and chatted with Paul for a bit- great guy, works for Adventure Cycling Association and moonlights selling custom bike bags that he sews himself at wanderlust-gear.com. Also it turns out he used to run Perpetual Motion Machine records, who put out the first Kowloon Walled City LP, and he just happened to have two copies lying around!
Paul had some personal business to attend to so we stepped out for an excellent late breakfast at the Burns Street Bistro, where we ran into one of our fans, Joel, wearing one of our t-shirts!
We got this picture later that night at the festival. Thanks for the support Joel!
After breakfast we swung by a music shop called Electronic Sound & Percussion, where Melissa bought a ukulele and we saw this badass carbon-fiber hollow-body acoustic/electric bass:
We talked to one of the staff, also named Paul, who couldn’t make the festival because he had a gig with his rockabilly band, the Misfortune Tellers. Now this is a man who appreciated the Hillbilly Hellcats. Go check out his band!
After that we swung by the TF record swap, where we saw a one-man band doing a pretty ripping version of Wreckless Eric’s “Whole Wide World” and I picked up copies of Mahavishnu Orchestra’s The Inner Mounting Flame, Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly, and R.E.M.’s Murmur, all for ten dollars! The R.E.M. record doesn’t have a jacket but I figure maybe I can get one online.
We wandered around town a bit. Saw a lot of cool dogs and stopped to gawk at some local oddballs surfing in the Clark Fork River:
Let’s cut to the chase:
#7: TOTAL FEST XIII!
Our merch table, elegantly arranged by Angela and Jamie.
There was a lot going on during the festival (among other things, me taking apart Melissa’s bass head to fix the rackmount brackets) so I don’t know that I can provide an in-depth review of everything I saw, but here are my brief impressions:
#1. No idea who these guys were, but they played some cool noise-punk in the style of maybe Saccharine Trust or one of John French’s bands or something. Liked ‘em.
Shramana– The bassist in this band was a dead ringer for Travis Jones of Houston and Austin. Unfortunately I was busy while they were playing, so I don’t really remember what they sounded like. Black metal maybe?
Chastity Belt– Angela thought this band sounded a bit like Myra-Lee-era Cat Power. I was very impressed with their drummer, who had a beautiful understated style and a vintage Zildjian ride cymbal that was downright exquisite.
He Whose Ox Is Gored– A couple of folks at our Denver show were wearing shirts from this band. Jamie thought they sounded like Porcupine Tree with hardcore vocals. They were pretty exciting, but it was a little odd that the guitarist was sitting down while he played. Come to find out, while the band was loading in an 8×10 speaker cabinet had fallen on the guy’s foot and smashed the fuck out of it. Not only did he not cancel their set, but after he went to the hospital, he came back to the festival! HARD CORE.
Darto– Really cool noise/kraut-rock/post-rock band. The guitarist played with a screwdriver, always a quick way into my heart. One of the few Slint-influenced bands I’ve seen that actually sounds like Slint. Bought their LP.
Nerve Beats– These guys were from Honolulu! Much respect for crossing half the Pacific Ocean to go on tour. Sounded like the early Minutemen records. Bought their CD.
Recessions– Played while we were setting up so I couldn’t pay a ton of attention, but they sounded like a classic hardcore punk band, which I like! Thumbs up.
Gaytheist– Holy crap this band rocked! Their drummer seemed like he was hitting everything on his kit at once. Reminded me of 400 Blows or maybe Big Business. Super good, bought their LP!
Criminal Code– Another hardcore punk band, sounded kinda like Husker Du or maybe one of their ‘90s acolytes like Pegboy or Overwhelming Colorfast.
Wolf Eyes– These guys borrowed Jamie’s guitar rig. Reminded me a lot of Indian Jewelry.
We played between Recessions and Gaytheist. The sound onstage was awesome and the crowd and the energy in the room were completely alive. We all felt really fired up and we played that way too. Here’s how good the energy was: not only did Sam tell the audience “you’ll never know how much we love you-“ a minute later he turned around and smiled at me. It was like he was possessed by the devil! I even thought I saw Reggie Watts, who was performing right after us upstairs, getting down in the audience. After the show I thanked the sound engineer, Victor- he was from Europe somewhere and had a noticeable accent- and he turned to Melissa and said, “You rock, lady!” Dude sounded like Arnold Schwarzenegger, it was awesome.
All in all this was one of the most fun shows I’ve ever played. Even Janet said we were “actually OK.” She’s kind of an understated lady.
Setlist was the same at the rest of the tour but with Zora and Adder’s Land cut for time.
That’s pretty much it- we packed things up and drove out the next day. We’re on our way home now.
We have to say a HUGE thanks to Paul from Total Fest, who not only put us up for not one but TWO nights and treated us with unbelievable warmth but also listened to our boring stories and pretended to laugh at our dumb jokes. Also DID I MENTION THIS FUCKING DOG
Paul, thank you so much for making us feel welcome!
We’ll wrap up some loose ends in a few days. Oh yeah Jamie got a picture with Reggie Watts. I guess he liked us!