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.