Summertime in Missoula is always full of surprises, but one of the most unexpected offerings of the season so far has been Microfest - a DIY festival that has outgrown its own name on its maiden voyage and become what feels like an instant classic in the realm of summertime music festivals in Missoula. And the funny part is, it hasn't even happened yet.
Microfest organizers Dave Jones and Sam Kaley birthed the festival essentially out of a lack of enough available options for their band, Night Witch, to be able to play live music outdoors in Missoula. After playing a one-off show last summer at the MOBASH skate park, the idea to create more opportunities to play at MOBASH just wouldn't quite leave their minds. So eventually Jones and Kaley took to their band's Instagram to propose another DIY show, and were met with an overwhelmingly positive response from bands across the region who wanted to be in the lineup.
"Sam threw it up as a post and in a half hour we had ten bands wanting to jump on," Jones told me. "A half hour later there were a few more. And then a few more and a few more. So within a few hours of the original idea of doing a small show we were staring into the eyes of an event."
Jones and Kaley took the opportunity to showcase as many bands as they could, and eventually expanded their lineup by bringing downtown Missoula venue Monk's into the mix as an afterparty host.
"As far as genres go, the notion to steer towards one direction didn't come up at all," Jones said. "Mostly because of the swift reaction from the music community but also because we really wanted to be 110% inclusive of everyone, anyone and all music. The artists spoke up and we went with all of them, or at least tried to."
Some of you might be having Totalfest flashbacks right now, and if you are, you definitely aren't alone. As one of Missoula's most eclectic festivals, Totalfest and its genre-bending mix of bands was beloved by the Missoula music scene, and has been sharply missed since its finale in 2015. And although Microfest may not be a three-day, city-wide live music extravaganza like Totalfest eventually became, we should keep in mind that at first, Totalfest was also a one-day, one-off show that was never meant to become an annual event, either.
Jones didn't seem to shy away from the comparison, or from the notion of Microfest becoming something more in the future.
"If/when we plot the next one, we are already hoping/planning it will be a total cornucopia. In fact, I would kill to see the band Junior play right before Walking Corpse Syndrome. And why? Because we can; we're Missoula.
"It may become annual, it may become seasonal, we'll see how we feel Sunday morning! Then again, we might already be in talks with Mastadon and Kurt Vile to headline our next one in the winter, but you'll have to wait and see."
I mean, take my money, please.
Andrew Ibarra, a member of the band Deathcare Industries, who is set to take the stage at the skate park on Saturday, was thrilled to be involved.
"(W)e all realized that the Montana scene definitely has a 'if you build it, they will come' thing going on. I feel lucky to be in an area with such a tight knit group of musicians and a lot of support from the community."
So if you'd like to witness the birth of an instant classic, you should probably come out to the MOBASH skate park on Saturday, June 24th. The show starts at NOON, it's FAMILY FRIENDLY, and it's FREE (although donations will be gratefully accepted to go towards bands and sound crew). The outdoor entertainment is set to last all day long, and afterwards you can head straight for Monk's to hit their afterparty with three more bands set to take the indoor stage, for a $5 cover.
I can't stress enough how much you don't want to miss this one.