When the leaves start to turn and outfits begin to start doubling in layers, we are reminded by a chilly finger tapping us on the hooded shoulder that Halloween is next up on the musical calendar. All time OG acts like Alice Cooper and KISS sliced through conventional ideology of what a concert could be back in the 70’s, opening the casket lid for modern acts to shock, excite, and bring tongue-in-cheek levity sprinkled with bravado to the masses. Halloween is just about a week away and there are plenty of acts to fill that trick-or-treat vibe for you day of, but it doesn’t have to end there. From the musically creative to the outright grotesque, these are some bands that won’t disappoint while bringing the Halloween spirit.
Bands like Arcade Fire have no regard for calendars when decreeing a performance should be more than just showing up, listening for a bit, then going home. Arcade Fire tweeted before their Reflektor tour, “Formal attire or costume (is) MANDATORY. (Formal wear = suit, dress or fancy something…).”
Richard Reed Parry, multi-instrumentalist for Arcade Fire, explained it like this:
“We’re trying to make a show that feels like an event, that’s fun, that people want to be at and participate in. We’ve found from shows that we’ve done that people like to dress up, people like to put on a mask. Like, people love Halloween. I wait all year for Halloween.It’s great, the costume part of that and the dressing up part of that just enhances the feeling that it’s a special event that you’re investing it and trying to have it be an elevated experience from the every day…” says Arcade Fire.
Gwar, on the other deformed, oozing hand, want to convince you they are interstellar demons sent to earth to turn humans into sex slaves for their ultimate hedonistic desires. Audience members are subjected to gross outs and sloppy antics that set the cheese factor to full on Limburger. With band members having names like Balsac The Jaws Of Death, Oderus Urungus (RIP), and Beefcake The Mighty, Gwar brings the corny and gross to crowds all at once. Think of it as if Kiss smoked dust and co-opted Troma Studios for a schlocky outer space slasher flick.
If the darkness is what calls you to the ceremony, then groups like Ghost BC, Portal and Sunn O))) may be your siren’s call. These bands take themselves more seriously in regards to power riffs and the occult flowing deeper and darker throughout their song catalogues. Ghost BCs lead singer, Papa Emeritus, rocks a skeleton priest get up reminiscent of a satanic pope from Bizarro World. While the music itself leans more towards poppy, accessible metal, the spectacle created by band members named “Nameless Ghouls” and decked out in cloaks and faceless masks is enough to satiate even the most hardcore fans of Beelzebub.
Portal and Sun O))) both represent downtuned groups that create a true sense of aural horrorcore. Portal, an Australian black/death metal band, doesn’t attempt to scare the audience. They outright succeed in frightening crowds with deep guttural grunting and sound effects in place of lyrics, all the while donning wizard hats and executioner’s masks, obscuring their faces, adding to the cacophony of uncomfortable confusion.
Sunn O))), a Seattle outfit that creates a doomy, dark ambient drone, tops the list as the most competent musicians when talking about a theatrical horror group. The band is famous for monolithic soundscapes, lack of percussion, and wearing robes whilst surrounded by fog. They’re easily one of the loudest bands performing today, which completes the brutal assault on all of the senses.
It doesn’t have to be All Hallows’ Eve to shake the devil’s hand; you can find the haunting fun of autumn any time of year. So whether you’re looking for a fun jaunt into escapism through a musical costume or want to become someone else for a night by wearing a literal costume, any one of these bands can bring Halloween to you regardless of the weather.
Summer may be behind us here in the Northern Hemisphere, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave its good vibes behind. If you’re looking for a getaway, there are still plenty of good times to be had. Whether the festival circuit is your thing, you’re overdue to connect with nature, or you just have vacation time to use up, consider one of these off-the-beaten path adventures. From a celebration of cetaceans to famous bluegrass fiddlers, there’s a lot to do at these lesser known – but highly entertaining – festivals around the globe.
MASS MoCA Fresh Grass Festival, North Adams, Massachusetts
Located on 16 acres in bucolic, western Massachusetts, MASS MoCA revitalized the desolate industrial town of North Adams when it opened in 1999. Since then, the massive museum has grown to 28 buildings encompassing 500,000 square feet (with another 200,000 left to build out). This month, it hosts the bi-annual Fresh Grass Festival (September 15–17), where every inch of the museum’s campus becomes a pickers paradise, with fiddlers, mandolinists, singers, and more performing across stages and galleries. Pop-up shows and pros jamming out with fans are par for the course – which means you could be rubbing shoulders with names like Brandi Carlisle, Shovels and Rope, Del McCoury, and Son Little, among loads of other talent.
Life Is Beautiful, Las Vegas, Nevada
The Life Is Beautiful Festival, a three-day romp (September 22–24) through downtown Vegas, may change your whole perspective on the City of Sin. Forget gambling in daylight-dismissive casinos, this celebration of music, art, food, and ideas brings together acts like Gorillaz and Chance the Rapper, with food by Vegas’s top chefs. Dozens of artists from around the country also descend on the city, transforming its walls into a mind-blowing – and massive – outdoor gallery. If dusty fields and muddy tents just aren’t your thing, this urban extravaganza might be; it brings the full festival vibe – plus trendy cocktails (hey, it is Las Vegas, after all) – without all the dirt.
Galway International Seafood and Oyster Festival, Galway, Ireland
Oyster-loving Europeans have known about the Galway International Seafood and Oyster Festival (September 22–24) for a while, but news of its popularity is just starting to spread stateside. Shucking contests, tasting events, and celebrity chefs are all on the agenda – and we’re pretty sure people are throwing back a few pints of Guinness, too.
The Social Festival, Maidstone, England
Some of the electronic music scene’s brightest stars will show up at The Social Festival (September 29–30), which describes itself as “bringing a taste of Ibiza to the south east of England.” Celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, The Social is spread out across four giant arenas with a lineup that includes Carl Cox, Black Coffee, The Martinez Brothers, and festival founder, Nic Fanciulli. No matter the stage, electronic music fans are guaranteed a place to dance their asses off.
Hermanus Whale Festival, Hermanus, South Africa
This town on the southernmost tip of Africa leaps to life each year when it hosts the Hermanus Whale Festival (September 29–October 1) to celebrate, respect, and preserve marine wildlife. Sporting events, family activities, craft shows, an eco-village, and musical entertainment are all on the docket, but whale-watching, of course, is the main event. Ecologically-sensitive tours on land, air, and sea provide nature lovers and eco-tourists with thrilling views of majestic Southern Right whales as they return to their part-time home along the Cape Whale Coast.
When you grow up in a town where the big names in music almost never come, you might want to change that. That’s exactly what Ithaca-natives X Ambassadors are doing. On September 22 & 23, 2017, the small town is being bombarded with eclectic, cutting edge, and daring musicians from all over the world including: The Roots, K.Flay, The Knocks, and Tei Shi. These groundbreaking bands will share the spotlight for the first ever Cayuga Sound Festival.
The main event for the Cayuga Sound Festival happens on Saturday, September 23 at Stewart Park in Ithaca. General Admission Tickets are $59.50 and VIP tickets are $209.50. Children 5 and under are free.
Doors open at 11am, and the music begins at noon. Bands will play throughout the day on two stages situated right next to each other – the Main Stage and the Lake Stage.
- 12:00-12:30pm Imperials – Lake Stage
- 12:30-1:00pm Stone Cold Miracle – Main Stage
- 1:00-1:30pm Izzy True – Lake Stage
- 1:30-2:10pm Jukebox the Ghost – Main Stage
- 2:10-2:40pm Sammus – Lake Stage
- 2:40-3:20pm Margaret Glaspy – Main Stage
- 3:20-3:50pm Crush Club – Lake Stage
- 3:50-4:35pm The Knocks – Main Stage
- 4:35-5:10pm Savoir Adore – Lake Stage
- 5:10-5:55pm K.Flay – Main Stage
- 5:55-6:40pm Tei Shi – Lake Stage
- 6:40-8:00pm X Ambassadors – Main Stage
- 8:25-10:00pm The Roots – Main Stage
Food will be available for an additional price – highlighting chefs and local food from across the region. Gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan food options will be available. The official brew of the festival is Ithaca Beer’s Cayuga Sounder IPA, which will be available for purchase for those 21 and up. Wine and non-alcoholic beverages will also be available.
What’s Allowed at Cayuga Sound Festival
- Empty, reusable, and sealed water bottles are permitted into the festival. There will be filtered drinking water throughout the festival to refill bottles.
- No outside food, drink, or coolers allowed.
- Blankets, collapsible lawn chairs, and umbrellas are permitted.
- Sunscreen and/or rain gear is suggested.
- Polaroid, cell phone, and point and shoot digital cameras will be permitted.
- Professional photographers with SLR cameras with detachable lenses must get prior approval.
- Pets (except for documented service animals), fireworks, glass containers, explosives, weapons, and illegal substances are prohibited.
Cayuga Sound’s VIP Experience
The VIP experience includes some serious swag for an extra $150.
The first VIP bonus is an exclusive dinner the night before the festival at Ithaca Beer, with an acoustic performance by X Ambassadors, and admission to Friday night shows at the The Haunt and The Dock. It also includes a festival t-shirt and a limited edition tote bag with Ithaca merchandise.
On the day of the festival, VIP ticket holders will have a VIP bar and viewing area, VIP reserved parking, and bathrooms, plus a private entrance lane for quicker entrance.
Separate from Saturday’s big festival, Cayuga Sound will host two parties in town on Friday, September 22, 2017.
The Dock will host the Official Cayuga Sound Festival Pre-party with some of Ithaca’s most exciting local talent including Namarah, The Miserable Genius, No Comply, Tender Crunch, and Beau Mahadev.
The Haunt will also host an Official Cayuga Sound Pre-Party featuring Jukebox the Ghost, The Blind Spots, and Mail the Horse.
Tickets for both official, pre-parties must be purchased separately from the general admission festival tickets. VIP ticket holders have access to both parties.
And, over at the Ithaca Marriott Downtown, those holding a festival ticket or valid student ID can attend a Cayuga Sound Talk Series with two talks. Live Music and Its Impact on the World runs from 10:30-11:30am. From Ithaca to the Billboard Charts – The X Ambassadors Story runs from 12-1pm. Seating is limited and only available on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Stewart Park is located at 1 James L Gibbs Drive, Ithaca, NY.
- Rain or shine event.
- Parking at the local high school will be available with shuttle service to the festival grounds, or ticket holders can bike or walk a waterfront trail from lots near The Haunt and The Ithaca Farmers Market.
- Hotels for Hope is the official hotel partner for the festival, and $2 from every, actualized room night is donated to nonprofits impacting, and improving, the lives of children worldwide.
- Other accommodations can be found at Visit Ithaca.
- Official hashtag is #CayugaSound.