Beginning last Thursday on the 29th of August, 60 bands from across the country stopped by the Mills District in Orlando, Florida to perform among their fellow like-minded community. It was the fourth year for the annual festival and the second one to take place in Orlando. Total Bummer began in Gainesville where the humble local-arts community quickly embraced its ‘Do It Yourself’ nature. The following year, the festival took place in Tallahassee, but since then it has stuck in Orlando. Its first year in Central Florida was more so a trial run for JT Brigardner and James Folker, the two who are at the heart of Total Bummer. Last year the 90 band lineup became a bit overwhelming and the festival failed to break even on its sales.
Toning the lineup down by 30%, this past weekend’s festival reeled in its largest crowd yet and more touring bands ended up with a bit of money in their pockets before leaving town. Headliners this year included Javelin, XXYYXX, Levek, and Japanther. The rest of the lineup was made up of many DIY projects out of Florida and various scattered locations around the US. The dedication with the festival was evident in the crowds. Most attendees were willing to stay real late into the nights, as late as 3:00 AM. Given a few of the day’s schedules got decently behind, the dedication became a testament to the appreciation many share with the local arts scene in Florida. As the new decade progresses and as more and more people within the local arts scene leave Orlando for a bigger and brighter future in Brooklyn or Los Angeles, Total Bummer becomes a true summer camp for many of its participants. Fans and musicians are always willing to come back, sometimes, because of the lack of corporate sponsorship. But mostly people begin to notice that the combined efforts transition the DIY nature into a burgeoning ‘Do It Together’ essence.