As a full-time radio DJ and assistant programmer of a hit music station in Missoula, I've had my fair share of demos sent my way. To be honest, I never once put their CDs in my player. Sorry! For one, I don't have a CD player anymore, and two, I'd prefer to see the bands live to get an actual feel for the talent they bring. Setting aside what actual genre of music I truly prefer (confession: trance music, don't laugh), I am gauging this list on how well the audience at the shows I've attended reacted to the performers on stage. So while I may not be the heaviest of rock fans, I can still appreciate a metal band that can pack a venue, get their fans to scream — and even sing along. This, in my personal opinion, is a far better way to evaluate the popularity of an artist.

With that in mind, here is a list of the best bands in Missoula. The one's who may have sent me a CD, but more importantly invited me to their local shows.

Sick Kids XOXO

I have vivid memories of their incredible performance at Indy Fest last year under the gazebo at Caras Park. The line around the backstage for autographs following the show was all I needed to understand that this might be the band that can truly put Missoula on the map in the music world. The artists are young, sexy and extraordinarily talented. I can honestly say that this was the first local band that (when they performed) gave me goosebumps. This is the one group to be on the lookout for.

Cold Hard Cash

While technically not from Missoula (most band mates reside in other parts of Montana), this Johnny Cash cover band plays here often enough to be considered one of my hometown favorites. From performing live on the David Letterman show, to jamming most recently with John Mayer and Katy Perry over in Bozeman at a private party, this is a band that is nationally recognized and offers a legendary brand of music that will live on forever.


I'm just going to put this out there before I sing the praises about this band, I absolutely hate country music. Always have, and more than likely, always will. However, if there was ever a group of guys that could attempt to convert me, it's the men of Sho-Down. Why? For one, they bring the ruckus any time they perform live. From a rabid loyal following, to an energetic stage presence, this country band just might be the most popular act in the entire state in this genre. And the best part? They are just all-around nice guys. Not a bad apple in the bunch. I could totally envision myself kicking back a tall cold one with the boys on a ranch somewhere on the outskirts before hitching up and enjoying a ride off into the sunset. And I don't ride horses. Or drink beer, for that matter. That's saying something. (No video available)


County Line

While arguably the most recognizable name in Missoula music, County Line is also the most talented. I simply can't say enough about the drummer Checkers Barker, and his incredible timing and sharp delivery is downright jaw-dropping. His precision with the beat keeps the rest of the bandmates in perfect time, while their continuously growing fan base crowds the dance floor. And don't let the name fool you. County Line is more than just country music. You can expect a smattering of classic rock and familiar sing-alongs to spice up their playlist.

High Voltage

I've shared the stage with these artists quite often at various events around town, and have witnessed their transitions and growth over the past few years. Yet, one thing has remained strong throughout — their love for music and love for their fans. This is the one band on my list that has a little something for everyone. From metal, to groovy synth, to sexy female vocals, they have practically all the styles covered. A band highly recommended to check out live.

Honorable mentions:

  • Bob Wire (fun, funny, and a true Missoula community staple)
  • Universal Choke Sign (after a brief hiatus, it's only a matter of time before they make my list again)
  • The Mudfoot and the Dirt Soles (genuine talent, tight band, great guys)
  • Salsa Loca (haven't seen them perform in awhile, but man they are a floor packer!)



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