In the summer of 1999, three recent graduates of UCLA's School of Film & Television drove to Olympia, Washington to document Yoyo A Go Go. One of the only truly independent music festivals in the United States, the extraordinary five-day fest—staffed mostly by volunteers and affordable for almost everybody—brought together unknown local bands, acclaimed performers like Elliott Smith, Sleater-Kinney, the Make-Up, and then-emerging talents like Mirah, the Microphones, and the Mountain Goats.
Filmmakers Elina Shatkin, Cris Dupont, and Thomas Logoreci captured more than 50 performances. A formidable array of musicians took to the stage—from Japanese noise band Loud Machine and folk singer Jen Wood to mashup artists Negativland and Canadian rockers Mecca Normal.
One highlight was an intimate acoustic set by Elliott Smith, which fans had lined up around the block to see.
Returning to L.A., they began distilling their nearly 150 hours of footage—and trying to navigate the legal labyrinth music rights and clearances. As the years went by, the filmmakers began to wonder if Try This At Home would ever see a theater screen.
Over a decade later, Try This At Home has emerged. The definitive portrait of a once in a lifetime musical event, the movie provides a time capsule of an extraordinarily creative period in the Pacific Northwest. It is a call for artists to reinvent themselves and engage with their communities—wherever they may be.
Cris DuPont is a documentary filmmaker based in Los Angeles.
Try This At Home is his first feature documentary. He currently works with Tree Media Group as a cinematographer and editor on various projects including the upcoming feature documentaries We The People 2.0 and Into Eden. He has produced, directed, and edited numerous short films, music videos, and news programs.
A personal favorite is Mentalitet Bunkeri (Bunker Mentality), which explores the clash of cultures in post-communist Albania.
DuPont currently works as an editor at 20th Century Fox.
Thomas Logoreci is a filmmaker, editor, and screenwriter.
For over a decade, he has collaborated with San Francisco filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt on several films including
I'm Charlie Chaplin, I Like It a Lot, and I Used to Be a Filmmaker, which was short-listed for a 2003 Academy Award.
He has also worked for many years with Caveh Zahedi on such films as In the Bathtub of the World, The World is a Classroom, and the Gotham Award-winning feature I Am A Sex Addict.
He contributed the short film 9/10 to the Underground Zero anthology and wrote and acted in Ed Feldman's A Day's Work, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the US Shorts Fest and
the Trieste Film Festival. Working with Irish filmmaker
Mark Cousins he co-wrote Here Be Dragons, a feature-length essay film that will premiere at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2013. Logoreci is currently producing the narrative feature Bota from an award-winning screenplay he co-wrote with Albanian filmmaker Iris Elezi.
Elina Shatkin is a writer, journalist, and occasional filmmaker who lives in Los Angeles. A senior editor at Los Angeles
magazine where she covers arts and culture, Shatkin was previously a restaurant critic for the LA Weekly and a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times. Her work has also appeared
in The Believer, Bitch,the Journal of Popular Music Studies, Variety, the Food Network magazine, Release Print, and American Cinematographer, among other publications. She is a contributor to radio programs on KCRW and KPCC. For the last year, she has profiling lady adventurers and exporers for HiLobrow.
As founder of the record label Yoyo Recordings, Pat Maley has produced albums for a number of bands including The Mountain Goats, Unwound, and Mirah. He has also helped oversee the largely volunteer-run Yoyo A Go Go music festival four separate times: in 1993, 1997, 1999, and 2001. He lives in Olympia.
Often categorized as chamber pop,
Bonfire Madigan is the multifaceted musical project of singer, cellist, composer and activist Madigan Shive. Growing up in Seattle she began playing the cello at age nine.
As a teenager, she co-founded her first band, Tattle Tale, with Jen Wood, who also performed at Yoyo A Go Go in 1999. Shive has collaborated with a variety of artists including Neko Case, Kimya Dawson, Cat Power, Fugazi, Gossip, and Slovenian industrial band Laibach. At Yoyo ‘99 she performed as a duo with Sheri Ozeki on upright bass.
Imagine Frodo Baggins if his Shire was the Pacific Northwest and his musical tastes ran to Queen, Pink Floyd, and Scandinavian doom metal. That’s a good overview of C Average. Comprised of Brad Balsley on drums and John Merithew on guitar (both Olympia natives),
the duo is known for its playful doom metal and intense live shows.
You can see him performing over the end credits in Try This At Home, but Jason Traeger is a multi-talented artist who painting, sculpting, paper cutting, photography, and standup comedy. He has had four solo exhibitions of his work and participated in several group shows. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
With Jenny Jenkins, she was one half of the cheekily named Super Duo, known for its wry, sexy, intimate songs, and its use of the ukulele. In Try This At Home, you’ll spot her toward the end of the film singing an a cappella song she wrote herself. Though the song is about the virtues of patience, it might be read as a metaphor for the struggle either to create or and/or to connect with other humans.
At age fifteen, Jen Wood and her high school pal Madigan Shive (later of Bonfire Madigan) formed the band Tattle Tale in Seattle. The duo released two albums. Since 1996, Wood has released four full-length albums and two EPs as a solo artist. She dueted with Ben Gibbard on the song “Nothing Better” on the Postal Service’s 2002 album Give Up and collaborated with various other artists including Black Heart Procession, Rosie Thomas and Joan of Arc. Wood, who lives in Seattle, is working on her next album.
Once described as “a three-piece specializing in an unholy racket that resembled Devo on a bender of bad meth and blown-out amps,” the Santa Cruz trio, active circa 2000, did indeed make an unholy racket. Their high-energy set at Yoyo A Go Go also displayed a puckish sense of humor, with drummer Noel von Harmonson, who later went on to join Comets on Fire, performing with a battered film reel affixed to his chest.
If anyone can merge punk and gospel, it’s Ian Svenonius. As the lead singer of Make-Up, he was known for his wild and theatrical live performances in which he often involved the audience. Formed in Washington D.C. in the mid-’90s, the post-punk quartet’s sound was dubbed “gospel yeh-yeh.” Whatever that means, the freneticism of their live shows is undeniable, from walking on the outstretched palms of audience members to initiating cathartic call-and-response sessions. After disbanding in 2000, the group reformed to play Coachella in 2013.
An innovative, exploratory musical project,
the band has featured a slew of notable Olympia musicians but is anchored by founder and sole permanent member Phil Elvrum, who runs the Anacortes, Washington-based label
P. W. Elverum & Sun, Ltd. Other members have included Mirah, who has released five albums on K Records, and Khaela Maricich of The Blow and Get the Hell Out of the Way of the Volcano. Elvrum is known for his analog recording techniques; he reportedly recorded all of The Microphones discography on a broken, 16-track, reel-to-reel tape machine.
The pioneering Vancouver band comprised of Jean Smith and Dave Lester has been making music for nearly three decades. Confrontational, political, and poetic, the duo has been cited by numerous other punk bands as an inspiration—both for their art and for the way they live their lives. In between releasing 12 albums, Smith has continued her work as a painter, published two novels, and performed in the band 2 Foot Flame. Lester, a graphic designer, published the award-winning graphic novel The Listener.
The Mountain Goats
The primary (often only) member of the caprine band is John Darnielle. He has worked a variety of jobs including a psychiatric nurse and music writer. Known for his “cheerfully desolate song lyrics,” Darnielle has wowed Stephen Colbert and once penned the terrific zine Last Plane to Jakarta."
Formed in Northern California, the experimental sound collage quintet gained wide attention in the ‘80s when they issued a fake press release saying that they had been prevented from touring because their song "Christianity Is Stupid" had inspired a teenager to kill his family. The band’s most notorious public dustup occurred in 1991 when Island Records sued Negativland over the U2 EP, an album that parodied the Irish band U2’s song "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.” Long before the mashup was a thing, Negativland was appropriating and remixing audio and imagery to achieve hilarious and thought-provoking ends. After a hiatus, the band got together in 1999 to play the Yoyo A Go Go festival. They have released 12 albums and can be seen in Craig Baldwin's 1995 documentary Sonic Outlaws.
She organized the Yolympia Reconstruction Fashion show at Yoyo ‘99, but to the wider world Nikki McClure is probably best known for her intricate papercut art. McClure, who lives in Olympia, has written and illustrated several children’s books. She also creates posters, books, cards, album covers, T-shirts and a popular annual calendar
Old Time Relijun
Screaming. Ecstasy. Blues howling. Tuvan throat singing. Bare-chested lunacy. Noise rock. Captain Beefheart. The project of Olympia-based songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Arrington de Dionyso has a little bit of everything. In Try This At Home, you’ll spot de Dionyso playing some sort of saxophone
(or is that a clarinet?) on the sidewalk in front of the Capitol Theater.
He may dress like an explorer, a mad scientist or a Yeti, but underneath all those wigs and costumes is JP Hasson better known by his
nom de art, Pleaseeasaur. In 2006,
the high-energy, comedy-music performer released an album, The Amazing Adventures of Pleaseeasaur, on Comedy Central. These days, the Washington native performs and tours as
JP Incorporated and lives in Los Angeles.
Rebecca Pearcy began making waterproof faux-leather bags and wallets in her Olympia bedroom in 1996. Since then, Queen Bee Creations has branched out into diaper bags, throw pillows, textiles, purses and more, and Pearcy relocated the company to Portland, Oregon. Between all that, she released two albums on Yoyo Recordings: Constellation and See Deep Sky High.
After playing in the band Heatmiser, Smith went solo in 1994. He quickly gained a fanbase drawn to his dark, introspective, nakedly honest songs. He had released three well received albums, Roman Candle, Elliott Smith, and Either/Or, when his song “Miss Misery” was used in the soundtrack of Gus Van Sant’s film Good Will Hunting. It earned Smith a measure of mainstream success and led to an odd moment at the Academy Awards when he took a bow sandwiched between Celine Dion and Trisha Yearwood. He released two more full-length albums, XO and Figure 8. Smith struggled with drugs and depression throughout his life. He died in 2003 at the age of 34. He was in the midst of recording From a Basement on the Hill; the album was released posthumously in 2004.
Founded in Southern California in 1994, this Los Angeles-based band has had varying lineups. In 1999, it was a threesome comprised of Adam Garcia, Adam Hervey, and Tracy Uba. Through the years, the band has performed with Low, Iron & Wine, The Shins, Ida, Silversun Pickups, and Radar Brothers, among many others. Hervey is also the founder of pehrspace, a small but influential art and performance venue in Los Angeles. Though you won’t see Timonium onstage in Try This At Home, their song “Evil Gem” is the background music that anchors much of the documentary.
Owing to Yoyo producer Pat Maley’s interest in the Japanese music scene, several garage and punk bands traveled from Japan to perform at Yoyo ‘99. One of them was Ramstead, a trio that was largely unknown in America but wowed audiences in Olympia with the unbridled joy and ferocity of their performance.
The Mountain Goats
Old Time Relijun