The episode where Totally Awesome Fest totally takes over… The Saturday Six Pack #14

Every year, in late April, a free, all-ages, multi-venue festival of weirdness called Totally Awesome Fest descends upon the sleepy little midwestern hamlet of Ypsilanti. There’s no escape from it. No one is immune. Like it or not, you will experience beauty and magic. It permeates every element of village life. Walking through town, one might encounter anything, from a magical cart appearing out of nowhere to dispense fee hot dogs, to an inter-species basketball game at a local park. Bands, it seems, are playing in every backyard. And weirdness lurks around every corner. And, if you were listening to the last episode of the Saturday Six Pack, you would have heard a tiny little fragment of that beautiful weirdness.

It wasn’t easy to capture and broadcast the essence of Totally Awesome Fest. We had to set a trap. We took the door of the station off its hinges, removed all signs of human existence… with the exception of a ten-pound pile of sugar… and waited. We obscured the tables and chairs behind heaps of twigs and leaves. We draped moss over our microphones. We created a magical glade. And we waited. I dressed like a fawn and pranced quietly in a corner. Brian, our engineer, played audio of small woodland creatures frolicking. And we settled in for what we thought might be a long wait. Within minutes, though, bearded men and young women with flowers in their hair began tentatively sticking their noses into the studio and sniffing around. And, within twenty minutes, they were fully in the room, surrounding the pile of sugar, and licking at it greedily. Within another ten minutes, some of them began dragging in instruments.

We had them.

If you missed the live broadcast, you can now hear the episode in its entirety on both iTunes and Soundcloud. Or, if you want, you can just scroll down to end of this post, where you’ll find it embedded.

The first folks you’ll hear in these field recordings of ours are the sound artists known as Sky Thing, who had traveled all the way from Indiana. [If you’d like to jump right ahead to the beginning of their 20-minute soundscape, it starts at the 39-minute mark.] Here are photos of the two men, oblivious to our presence, twisting knobs and coaxing sound from twisted bits of metal and the like.



And, once the young men of Sky Think had curled up and fallen off to sleep, we were lucky enough to capture the band Rotokiller, who came in to perform an intense collection of songs about organic gardening and skateboarding. [The Rototiller set, which begins at the the 1:10-mark, includes their hits Cult Evader, Skate Fast or Die Trying, O.P.C. (Oil Power Control), Food, Half Pipe, Skate Punk, Sex, Keep it Goin’ and Chat Conversation End.] Here they are in their natural element.





And, then, once the smoke of burning metal had cleared, Andrew Mitchell II came along to trick his fellow Totally Awesome Fest-goers into putting on headphones, and singing along with their favorite songs, to the amusement of everyone within earshot. Here’s Andy discussing his invention – akioke – and why it is that he felt the world needed something more mortifying than karaoke. [If you just want to listen to akioke, jump to 1:27.]


And, before all for that… before we threw our doors open to the insanity of Totally Awesome Fest… we talked for a while with writer/critic Patrick Dunn, who had, just days earlier, been given the task of writing a story about the Saturday Six Pack for Concentrate Media. Here he is telling us why, in his opinion, the Saturday Six Pack is the most important cultural development in Michigan since the birth of the White Panther Party.


It was a weird show, but there was a lot to like about it. In addition to all of the stuff noted above, Pete Larson, who was just on the show last week, sent in what could possibly be his best song yet from Kenya. And, at some point, our favorite neighborhood troll called in to accuse the men of Sky Thing of copyright infringement. And, I didn’t mention it earlier, but my favorite moment of the entire show happened when, during my interview with Rotokiller, I mentioned that I just happened to have kale seeds in my pocket, which really made them happy. [note: The show ends at 2:06, but I guess we forgot to stop recording, because this podcast is over two and a half hours long. So, if you don’t like Totally Awesome Fest, or my voice, just stick with it and you’ll be rewarded with some great songs by the likes of Sonic Youth.]


Thanks, as always, to AM 1700 for hosting the show, Brian Robb for running the board, and Kate de Fuccio for taking photos. Thanks also to Dave Menzo, who appeared on the show as a guest a few weeks ago, for bring the PA so that all the folks hanging around outside the studio could hear what was happening inside… And, here, to give you a sense of what the scene was like, are some of the folks who were outside.


[If you like this episode, check out our archive of past shows at iTunes. And do please leave a review if you have the time, OK? It’s nice to know that people are listening, and, unless you call in, that’s pretty much the only way we know.]

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  1. Posted April 28, 2015 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    It appears to have been an interesting time for all.

  2. anonymous
    Posted April 28, 2015 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Next episode, have people akioke Rotokiller songs.

  3. Eel
    Posted April 28, 2015 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Funny you should mention Andrew WK and Glenn Beck.

  4. Meta
    Posted April 28, 2015 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Beck’s company announced on Tuesday that the “Party Hard” rocker will host a two-hour weekend program, beginning Saturday May 2, 2015. The weekly show, titled America W.K., will feature “a raw and penetrating discussion of what it is to be alive – meaning, motivation, mind set, and making dreams come true, all included in a celebration of life itself – and all with a positive and honest outlook. Andrew will also field questions and input from the audience, adding an engaging interactive component,” according to a press release.

    “When Glenn asked me to do my own radio show on TheBlaze, I was shocked but excited, as I knew he would allow me the unrestrained freedom to say exactly what I wanted,” Andrew W.K. said in a statement. “I’m very dedicated to exploring and learning from different people in different places, and always with an open heart. If people never went outside their own box, life would be boring. After all, why would I only want to talk with people who already think exactly like me?”

    And Beck had this to say: “My relationship with Andrew W.K. is a perfect example of how two people can come together on what unites us, and become strange bedfellows. He is open minded, honest, loves his fellow man even though he may disagree with him, and is a natural entertainer. Our mutual audiences have already begun to find commonalities.”

    Read more:

  5. Joe P
    Posted April 29, 2015 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    I meant to call in. I had shit to say. But I got too drunk in someone’s back yard and ate an entire jar of olives. This little kid sang with verve about the statue of liberty for almost 20 minutes. It was surreal and magical. I got attacked by an anarcho-pervert misogynist, and I fought back and knocked him to his ass. I’ll never forget it. I danced with a beautiful girl with dark hair and got her number. Was it totally awesome? Well, as close as you can get…

  6. kjc
    Posted May 5, 2015 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Btw, who was playing the Liz Phair covers at the Maple St house on Sunday? Walking my dog down that street listening to “Fuck and Run” was particularly enjoyable.

One Trackback

  1. […] interested in hearing what they sound like, here are links to those individual shows… Episode 14 with Patrick Dunn, Episode 15 with Doug Coombe. […]

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