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, for the past few years, some of that weirdness and magic has been broadcast into the universe by way of the Saturday Six Pack. What you are about to hear is this year’s transmission, which, I’m told, has now reached the edge of our solar system.
What you are about to hear isn’t like any other episode of the Saturday Six Pack. There is no deep, thoughtful talk about pressing matters of the day. There are no brilliant, probing questions. No, there’s just droning noise and full-throated screaming against a backdrop of clinking beer bottles, and it’s kind of lovely… if you can get around the sound quality.
After a quick conversation with festival founder Patrick Elkins, we jumped right into things with Anthony Gentile, Larry Johnson and Jeremy Jack of the Disinformants. Here’s festival founder Patrick Elkins trying to explain why it is, since this was billed as a multi-continent event, we’ve yet to see any evidence of bands playing outside of Ypsilanti.
And here are the guys in the Disinformants, who did their best to entertain us, even though we didn’t have a PA for vocals. [They begin at the 4:00 minute mark.] But that’s the charm of Totally Awesome Fest, right? [note: That’s also Anthony singing his lungs out in the header at the top of this post.]
At some point, half-way through their set, our old friend Peter Larson called in live from Kenya to perform a song for us live. It sounded as though he was calling from a tin can on the other end of a slack, thousand mile long piece of string, but it was absolutely lovely, and very much in keeping with the fly by the seat of your pants spirit of Totally Awesome Fest. [Pete’s song can be heard at the 14 minute mark.]
And, at about the 30 minute mark, Totally Awesome Fest co-chair Amber Fellows joins us to take about the historic events of the night before, and hint around about incredible things to come. Here’s Amber.
And, then, we had Crime Victims (Ian Fulcher, Eric Wozniak, Cellik Adams) join us at the 36 minute mark to chat for a while, play some “dissociative drone” for us, and urge everyone in the audience to forget societal norms and allow themselves to dream. Here they are, in their first-ever pre-midnight performance. [Colin Moorhouse, I should add, helped Wozniak turn knobs.]
[The band would like me to remind you that they’re available to perform at weddings, Bar Mitzvahs and yoga classes.]
And then we had on multi-instrumentalist Nick Zomparelli and his loop pedals, performing as NODATA. [He begins setup at 1:19, and we chat until 1:35, when the music starts.]
And we ended the show by talking with Manhole’s Stephen Jolley who came on to cancel a wine and cheese smooth jazz party at his house in Brighton.
Thanks, as always, to AM 1700 for hosting the show and station owner Brian Robb for running the board, making sure the bills paid, and insuring that the toilet paper and bleach stays stocked, and staff photographer Kate de Fuccio for documenting the festivities.
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.
Now, if you haven’t already, please listen for yourself, and experience the magic firsthand.
[Episode 45 of the Saturday Six Pack was recorded live on April 16, 2016, in historic downtown Ypsilanti, Michigan, in the studies of AM1700 Radio.]