When bands dress up for Halloween, it’s creepy
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  October 28, 2008

Maybe it’s because dressing up as the economy would be kind of lame, but I’m haven’t heard Jack O’Shit in the way of truly scary costume ideas this year. Sarah Palin isn’t scary, she just sucks. And Joe the Plumber is more sociologically unsettling than he is frightening.

Ever since some factory in China hot-glued together that first pair of slip-on cat ears, Halloween revelers have increasingly flaked on bringing the scary. And though it’s sad that fake flies and leprosy patches are no longer de rigueur, perhaps we can take solace in knowing that Halloween remains, at its high-fructose-corn-syrupy core, about becoming what you ain’t — whether that be a farmer freshly run over by a combine or just Amy Winehouse.

Over the years, these slackening customs have inspired a parallel tradition: bands dressing up as other (defunct) bands. Although the morbid interpretation potential is limitless (rope + Jergens bottle = Michael Hutchence; fake puke + glue = John Bonham or Jimi Hendrix), local bands have opted for an odd respect toward the departed, sometimes morphing into their influences, sometimes mutating into their opposites, usually just blowing away their fellow band dudes with the obscurity of their selection. Let’s have a look at the best of this year’s harvest of poseurs.

Some prefer to get their Halloweenery over with nice and early so that on the day itself they can devote their full attention to not opening the door for nougat-starved children. As such, the selection of bands tends toward the 30-plus-but-still-degenerate crowd.

Destroy Babylon, a lily-white reggae combo, are planning to get all Sandinista! as the CLASH on the entirety of London Calling at Church, after which the Macrotones will attempt to mack the JB’S — and may well do a fine job, as they deal in sweet Afro-tinged funk to begin with. The only scary element here is the high probability of high attendance from the highly high.

Across town at Porter Belly’s Pub, the Alpacas threaten double trouble, drafting one set as JOHNNY CASH (in a three-person black suit, perhaps?) followed by another as the POGUES. The strategy here seems obvious: 1) get drunk; 2) then get drunker.

If this doesn’t sound nearly blood-soaked enough for you, try O’Brien’s, which sports Panzerbastard as KISS and DISCHARGE (very scary), Rampant Decay as SHEER TERROR (very themy), Ipissimus as MAYHEM (sounds painful), the Accursed as WASP (also scary), and Jared Thomas Lord as NICK CAVE (caves: dark, scary).

What’s scarier: the ’90s or the fascination with the ’90s? The Pill (at Great Scott) is prime time to sort this dilemma out, as the Perennials do the STROKES, the Wonderful Spells take on the KINKS, and the Sun Lee Sunbeam do ELASTICA — which means Elastica better write another couple of songs.

Across the river at the Middle East upstairs, there’s a line-up of temporary supergroups that reads like a WZBC DJ’s fever dream: members of Ho-Ag, Ketman, and Thunderhole doing BUTTHOLE SURFERS; staff from Hallelujah the Hills, Ketman, and Amoroso doing the 13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS; World’s Greatest Sinners doing X-RAY SPEX. This show will also feature a “heavy-metal tribute” set from AASGAARD SCIMITAR — dudes from Ketman, Shore Leave, and Tristan da Cunha.

Back at Church there’s some high-quality rootsy fare, but also the least scary event in the history of events: Mike MacDonald and the Widow Makers as WHISKEYTOWN, the Bees Knees as BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD, the Bean Pickers Union as WILCO, Golden West Motor Lodge as LUCERO, and the Dirty Truckers as the ROLLING STONES. Eeeeek! Can we come out now?

For maximum screams, it makes sense to head toward the screaming. The Democracy Center has a pants-pooper of a night, with Third Death playing the MISFITS, Draize pulling off a SLAPSHOT set, Like Rats as NEGATIVE APPROACH, and Critical Hit as ANTI-PRODUCT. You might not even need to bring your fake blood.

Related: Fall Local Pop Preview: Changing scene, 5 for '10, Nachtmystium: black-metal psych-out, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Joe Wurzelbacher, Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix,  More more >
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