A rooftop visit from Patrick Elkins, announcing the opening of Totally Awesome season

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. And bands, it seems, are playing in every backyard. Weirdness lurks around every corner.

And, every year, at about this time, like the groundhog who comes out of his hole to see whether or not he can see his own shadow each spring, Patrick Elkins, the director of Ypsilanti’s Totally Awesome Fest, emerges from hibernation with a majestic beard and calls a press conference to announce the coming festivities. And, every year, invariably, I’m the only member of the professional press to show up. This year, however, I couldn’t make it. So apparently Patrick came to me.

It all started with a noise complaint, filed by a tenant at Landline Creative Labs… Here’s the video.

The man playing the urban shofar in the above video is Craig Johnson. According to Elkins, who did all the talking, Johnson calls this one-man project of his, Master Plumber.

Has your curiosity been piqued?

If so, this year’s festivities are scheduled to get underway at 5:00 PM this Friday behind the VG Kids screen printing shop, on the banks of the Huron River, at 884 Railroad Street.

The entire lineup can be found on Facebook, but here’s what to expect this first weekend. [As Elkins explains in the video above, this year’s festival actually stretches from April to August, in an ambitious first.]

Friday: 4/28/17

poetry: Amber Fellows
5:00 PM Sweet Demon
5:30 Christian James
6:00 Stephen Mage
6:30 Human Skull
7:00 Yonic Chill
7:30 Stellar Clouds
8:00 PM Little Traps

DJ: Hee Haw
9:30 PM circument
10:15 Dragon Drop
11:00 Paper Rockets
11:45 Platonic Boyfriends
12:30 Milo Scarcetti
1:00 Exhumed Corpse
1:30 AM Witchboi

Saturday: 4/29/17

poetry: Leah Xue, Devin Leatherman
11:00-12:00 PM Basket Ball at Prospect Park
1:00 Anna Vitale / Rob Halpern
1:30 Antonia
2:00 Peach Lavender
2:30 Legalize Quad
3:00 Heaven
3:45 Craig Johnson
4:30 Flwr.Chld
5:00 PM Wraiths

DJ: Silas Green
7:45 PM RV Mendoza
8:30 CJ Rene
9:15 Honey Monsoon
10:00 Ambit
10:45 TBA
11:30 Duane The Jet Black Eel
12:00 Shells
12:30 Blizzard Babies
1:00 Klayton Dawson
1:30 AM Gruesome Twosome

Sunday 4/30/17

12:00 Allye Gaietto
12:30 Jen Whaley
1:00 Best Exes
1:30 Marisa Dluge
2:00 The Krill
2:45 Heidi Haire
3:30 River Spirit
4:00 Nausea Family
4:30 Eliza Godfrey
5:00 Tanager
5:30 Child Sleep
6:00 p.m. Mixed Feelings

8:00 p.m. Electric Blanket
8:30 Fat Angry Hens
9:15 Squirrel University
10:00 Oedipussy
10:45 Rotokiller
11:30 p.m. Battery Acid

For those who are curious to know more about the history of Totally Awesome Fest, I’d encourage you to check out a few of Patrick’s press conferences from previous years… like the one right before Totaly Awesome Fest 10, which took place at the back of an AATA bus, or the one for Totally Awesome Fest 8, which was hosted by Eastern Michigan University, or the one from two years ago, which took place amid a sea of skateboarders on the steps of Ypsilanti’s Thompson Block, or the one last year, which involved a hijacked the karaoke machine at Powell’s Bar.

And, if you’re still not sold, check out these video highlights from last year.

Oh, and it’s just a rumor that Kelley Deal will be playing in every band this year.

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  1. Eel
    Posted April 24, 2017 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Where do I purchase a Master Plumber t-shirt?

  2. Erika
    Posted April 25, 2017 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    I want to curl up in his beard and take a nap.

  3. M
    Posted April 25, 2017 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    While impressive, the beard distracts from the music. It should apologize to the Master Plumber.

    Speaking of beards, who remembers the “hipster grifter’s” tat?


  4. Citywatch
    Posted April 25, 2017 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Special thanks to Patrick for his annual commitment to this one-of-a-kind event!
    It is Ypsilicious.

  5. Citywatch
    Posted April 25, 2017 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    One thing….can there be a decorated and maybe even lighted bike parade through the downtown areas of the city this year???

  6. LUMOS
    Posted April 25, 2017 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    What can you tell me of Duane The Jet Black Eel?

  7. Anonymous
    Posted April 28, 2017 at 4:59 am | Permalink

    Death to Toxic Amber Fest, long live Totally Awesome Fest

  8. Patrick Elkins by proxy
    Posted April 30, 2017 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Hi all! Due to the soggy & wet weather today, we are moving things indoors to the Dreamland Theater (26 N. Washington St.) today! Please help spread the word. Thanks!

  9. Richard
    Posted May 8, 2017 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Glad to hear that everybody had a great time at TAF! Sorry you had that miserable weather.

    We lucked out in Ann Arbor for Water Hill. It was a perfect day, great music and wonderful people. It’s a fun event that highlights the inclusive and diverse community that Ann Arbor has become. Both in the audience and on the stage. Those of you who have never been should put it on your calendar for next year.

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