What better way to celebrate Halloween than with the devil's music? Strangely, Christmas has been much more thoroughly celebrated by rock 'n' roll songwriters than the day marked by death-mocking costumes, self-indulgence and malicious pranks.
But while the wait for another smash-hit novelty song like "Monster Mash" to set the mood of the season continues, you have plenty of ways to celebrate the holiday with live music this year.
In this list, you won't find, say, the Secret Machines' Friday-night Lizard Lounge rooftop show—a worthy performance, no doubt—listed. Why? Because they're not doing anything to mark the holiday. Go see them with all your Jehovah's Witness friends or other non-celebrating anti-Americans who are too mature to need their live music to fit the Halloween spirit.
Good Halloween Concerts Hailey's, Denton (free)
Below are a few options for Halloween-themed music in Denton and Dallas.
Costume Party with DJ G, Pilotdrift
and Red Monroe
Solid local act Red Monroe and Texarkana's proudest sons, Pilotdrift, seem like a natural pairing. Pilotdrift's anything-goes approach to instrumentation gives the group's songs a Halloween-appropriate theatrical sound on disc, like something you'd hear in a Tim Burton movie about stranded mariners, lonely futuristic travelers and Jekyll and Hyde; live, the band is prone to almost-jammy chill-out improvisation. Here is where a crueler critic would make a joke about the members of Red Monroe costuming themselves as the guys in Radiohead, but I've always thought that sound-alike criticism was unfair. They take a few cues from the Greatest Band Possible, yes. But Red Monroe seems determined to stick to guitar noise even as downplaying the six-string is what keeps Radiohead interesting. Red Monroe's pretty, soaring melodies and cascading, chaotic guitar squalls are definitely worth seeing live. Why not do so dressed as a character from a Pilotdrift song?
Indiekitten's Halloween Weekend
Last year, a trick-or-treater came to my door costumed as what appeared to be a vampire/mobster/football player. Indiekitten, aka local promoter Elizabeth Eshelman, created two lineups even more mismatched and ill-conceived. Rose County Fair, with John Pedigo (formerly of Slick 57), is the solid bet Friday night. RCF promises big hooks, fuzzy/reverbed guitar and unique chord changes. Titanmoon mixes generic, breathily sung alt-rock with occasional textural guitar effects noise and tastefully done strings.
Calhoun's recordings put me to sleep; Eaton Lake Tonics has managed to do so live. The Killdares are a Celtic rock band—complete with bagpipes—with arena aspirations, but stuck playing cheesy bars and the State Fair. If that sounds like something you might like, watch the crowd and make mental notes about who really gets into it. Then make sure you're with them on St. Patrick's Day.
Dress as The Flash. You might need to make some speedy exits.
The Adventure Club Birthday Bash and Halloween Extravaganza with Baboon as Echo and the Bunnymen, Peter Schmidt and His Gentlemen Scholars as Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Nightmare on E Street as Bruce Springsteen, Blow Aces as Oasis
Years ago, when partner Keven McAlester left The Adventure Club solely in Josh Venable's hands, I'd never have guessed Venable would celebrate the show's anniversary by fronting a Bruce Springsteen tribute act.
Though past Adventure Club anniversary parties have been huge affairs mixing hot national indie acts and locals, Venable claims he's keeping this year's event low-key intentionally. The Springsteen idea came from a series of boozy conversations with his friends in [DARYL]. Venable finally decided to go through with it, and had no problem getting Schmidt, Glen Reynolds and the men of Baboon—all friends of Venable and his show—to join him on the bill for a night of homage.
"Cover bands are the scum of the earth," Venable says. "They are for people who have no talent at all. Hence, me being in a cover band."
But he is quick to distinguish his friends, particularly Reynolds—who also heads tributes Bluh (Blur) and Weener (Weezer) in addition to his non-cover band, Chomsky—from their scummy colleagues. There's a difference, he says, between getting together occasionally to pay tribute to a musical hero and making a career of note-for-note rehashing.
Whatever your opinion of cover bands (or "tribute acts," if you distinguish between the two), the name will be appropriate if Nightmare jams for 10 minutes on "Gloria" or plays a single note from "Pink Cadillac." Dress as Patti Scialfa and bring a tambourine.
Goth Ball, with proceeds benefiting
Arts Fighting Cancer
I hadn't been around goths much since graduating high school, so I didn't really know too much about the current dress code until checking out a few goth Web sites to research this piece. Pretty much the same, it seems, except with a wider acceptable hair-dye color palette. That, and the girls are not as sexy as I remembered them, which was all dark makeup, torn fishnets, milky white legs and shiny leather boots. Maybe I'm confusing the reality of high school with my high school sexual fantasies—which amounted to roughly three-quarters of my waking hours during those years. Music will be provided by Skin (of Hydroponic Sound System) and Nature of the Party, so maybe this won't be that goth-y after all. Not because Skin's Hydroponic is known for dubby, funky hip-hop, but because Skin has never appeared in my sex fantasies.
Big prize money for best costume, so I'm not giving you any ideas.
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Laptop Deathmatch, Halloween-Style
By now, you've read plenty in these pages about Wanz Dover's Laptop Deathmatches, in which competitors are judged on their performances of music created on the fly with one laptop and one external device. Let's hope you've gone to check out for yourself just how diverse the music created through sampling, blending and looping can be.
This week's Deathmatch is more performance than competition, according to the official Web site's calendar: "Performers should be in costume dressed as the act they are sampling, mashing up or covering."
Sign-up was still available as of Saturday; potential gigabyte gladiators can check www.laptopdeathmatch.com for spots. Non-participants could cause a performer to briefly panic by using poster board to create a "blue screen of death" error message costume.