Costume parties and playing dress-up are Halloween staples. And when All Hallows’ Eve falls on a Wednesday, as it did this year, the costumes tend to come out early. That was the idea last Saturday at the Middle East upstairs. Halloween has become a pleasant excuse for local rockers to don alter egos, transforming themselves in order to rock out as other bands — some famous, some infamous, some just fun to have fun with. Honah Lee Milne, the promoter of the Middle East show, acknowledged that similar events were taking place in clubs all over Metro Boston. At the Middle East, Noble Rot came as Motörhead, the Unstoppable Black Clouds took on Nirvana, and the Vershok attempted Guns N’ Roses. There was humor, of course. “Axl” (Bang Camaro’s Pete McCarthy) had a fight with “Slash,” kicked him off the stage, and brought on guitarist “Buckethead” (Bang Camaro’s Alex Necochea).
But for all the humor, these bands were well rehearsed. Standing in as Lemmy was Rich Hoss (also with Bang Camaro), and he had Motörhead’s shtick down pat, from the longhaired wig to the muttonchops, warts, and straining-to-reach-the-mic stance. He led Noble Rot through Motörhead’s No Sleep ’til Hammersmith, commenting “You don’t have to worry about the songs: they’re all battle-tested.”
Guitarist/singer Greg Ferreira formed the Black Clouds after his previous group, the Chainletter, had disbanded. With that group, he’d done Halloween gigs as Joy Division and the Cure; here, he opted for Kurt Cobain’s “nerd” phase, eschewing long blond hair and paleness for black-framed glasses and a cardigan. “I am Portuguese,” he pointed out. “This olive skin is not turning Irish.” But as a kid he loved Nirvana, and he and his mates (wearing flannel shirts, of course) worked their way through a set of Nirvana favorites full of distorted guitar squalls, choked chords, cries of anger, and plenty of angst.
Vershok bassist Nick Given (playing GNR bassist Duff) announced, “We are fake Guns N’ Roses!” The band dressed the part, and they closed the night by bringing ’80s Hollywood rock to Cambridge. During “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” Ferreira joined the crowd, banging his fist on the proverbial, invisible door — just the way Guns N’ Roses fans did so sincerely back in the day.