EDITORIAL DISCLAIMER: This comparison is specific to the party that is Halloween and not meant to compare a show that has original music versus cover music. Clearly I would much rather see original music on any given night BUT for a party night such as Halloween read on:
Oh, yes... Halloween brings out the little, and not so little, neighborhood kids eagerly sugar binging on candy. The spookiest night of the year also brings out the multitude of Rock Shows where the audience is encouraged to sport their best costume hiding behind various facades and, maybe in doing so, become ones true self. American Pancake braved two separate shows that were polar opposites really, one put on at the experts of indie alternative shows big and small, the people over at FYF whom we all love and the other put on by the drummer of the band Summer Vacation.
The study in contrasts continue. The FYF show featured Thee OH Sees, Soft Pack, Total Control and The Tijuana Panthers playing their own original music at the beautiful cavernous Ukrainian Cultural Center. The Costumes and Covers Halloween Show featured Pangea playing Nirvana Songs, The Lovely Bad Things playing Pixies songs, Cheeto Champ playing Blondie Songs, Summer Vacation playing Weezer and Horror Squad playing Rancid (among others) in an industrial warehouse of sorts, the self proclaimed VLHS (Vince Lombardi High School) - a DIY venue that is usually made up of brick and mortar but isn't always at the same place every time.
What both venues did have in common were audiences that got into the Halloween Spirit and came up with some wildly creative costumes. Unfortunately I faded in between writer and party goer and didn't take as many pictures as I should of but I will never forget the two big guys at the UCC dressed like motor cycle cops in full CHIPS regalia but holding hands and embracing throughout the night. Or the guy at VLHS who had constructed a small child that sat on his shoulders with outstretched arms holding onto his glasses... one awesome costume and I am sure someone will read this and tell me who he was supposed to be. The costumes at both venues made the nights so memorable.
FYF always seems to do it right and I hear that the actual Halloween Show on Halloween night was pretty spectacular. Things moved and worked well at TheeOHsees show the night before but I think the venue was too large for the acts and the amount of people who attended. All the bands could of benefited from a smaller space, their music getting lost a bit in the echo of the room and while The Tijuana Panthers, SoftPak and Total Control all received mad love from the audience, the room didn't erupt into party mode until Thee Oh Sees took the stage and they did inhabit it, own it and kicked ass (check out the video below and the rabid applause afterward).
Things at VLHS felt more like high school. The age skewed lower and the vibe felt more party like. Aaron Kovacs from Summer Vacation was largely responsible for the show and in true DIY fashion put it together with the guys who run the warehouse (VLHS) and are connected to Horror Squad. The show was originally a costume show and later turned into a show were each band picked what band they were going to cover. Anyone that knows me well, knows that I abhor cover / tribute bands but this was something quite different because it was Halloween and the bands not only covered bands they admired but they played dress up too. This is a potent double punch ingredient in the fun department and something that the bands at the FYF could of learned from. Only one member of TheeOhsees and the Tijuana Panthers wore costumes. Pangea whose brand of garage rock hold a special place in my kitch heart all showed up as Kurt Cobain and they brought along a tiny Francis Bean. In bad taste, yep and I loved it. The Lovely Bad Things wore a heavy dose of "golly gee" and showed up as 1950's style Mouseketeers complete with white shirts with their names displayed on them. Cheeto Champ's Adrian Tenney channeled Deborah Harry sporting platinum blonde wig that spilled over a bed of black roots. Summer Vacation got all Weezer braving Argyle sweaters even when the room became a sweat box and Horror Squad came fully prepared as the Trailor Park Boys and won the prize for the best band costumes of the night.
The large floor of the UCC had pockets of people grouped together as well as people who seemed to want to meander constantly to see all the cool costumes. VLHS is just plain small and thus created an atmosphere condusive to everyone becoming acquainted quickly. In between bands everyone would spill out into the back a back alley of sorts where the party would continue. Surprisingly, everyone would pile into the room at the fist strains of electric guitar or a kick drum and tightly fill up the relatively small space. Because the bands were performing songs by such luminary artists nearly EVERYONE in the room would sing along especially during Pangea's Nirvana set and The Lovey Bad Things Pixies set. It was an exhilarating experience. It turned into a kumbaya chorale / mosh crowd surfing pit. Marty Ploy from razorcake.org (wearing a viking helmet) not only shot most of the show with a mini cam, he also acted as announcer and body guard for the bands when the crowd got a little overzealous and while I witnessed Danny from Pangea get accidentally kicked in the head from a crowd surfers messy dismount, by in large, everyone was respectful and looked out for each other.
So which show was more fun? I think you can guess my answer by the amount of written words attributed to each show. House or warehouse shows break down barriers between the audience and the band and at a time when a lot of public constructs (online and off) are putting up barriers the VLHS Costumes and Covers Show was refreshing (and fucking awesome).
You can see some of the great costumes here at our Flikr page (sorry I am a crappy ass photog)