Halloween night has a history of producing some of the more memorable concerts in music history. Most recently, in 2000, Eminem punctuated his Halloween-night show in New Jersey’s Meadowlands with an ode to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, donning a ski mask and overalls, and hefting a real Husqvarna chainsaw onstage. The controversial get-up prompted some authorities to insist the machine’s “teeth” be removed for future shows, and then caused a surreal international hubbub when the chainsaw’s Swedish manufacturer felt it necessary to release a statement clarifying, “We make chainsaws for mature people who have genuine forestry work to do.” Publicity from the costume stunt helped secure Eminem’s stature as a latter-day antihero, if not as a budding forester.
There have been other monumental Halloween shows—the granola crowd may point to Phish’s White Album tribute in 1994, when a dude dressed as a bathtub of gin won the costume contest; proto-punks to MC5’s militant rock onslaught at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom in 1968, where Kick Out the Jams was recorded.
Every year offers new possibilities for another epic evening. So we’ve selected some of Missoula’s bigger shows this year (see the calendar for a full list) and suggested appropriate costumes to help set the bar. Who knows, this being Montana and all, one might even involve a chainsaw. Watch the teeth.
The Barnburner at The Other Side
For the last nine years, Patrick Kahn has helped preside over “the freak show where everyone knows where to go.” The Barnburner started in 1997 in a Stevensville barn as a kaleidoscopically rootsy gathering that featured a bus accidentally catching fire, spurring the nickname “Busburner.” Through the years it’s progressed into a full-on rave-like happening—Burning Man in Missoula, as some describe it—and toured from venue to venue, including The Wolf Keep in Potomac, Missoula’s old Go West Drive-In, the Wilma Theatre, Marshall Mountain and, for the last two years, The Other Side.
The Barnburner’s draw is entirely about community, with a diverse collective of artists and musicians providing endless multi-sensory entertainment, Kahn and Company decking out the digs (this year’s hints: “it’ll be a carnival-like atmosphere” and “Jimmy the Alien [the mascot] may make an appearance”) and a crowd primed to party until the early morning.
This year’s Barnburner includes musical acts Pnuma Trio (featuring Signal Path’s Ryan Burnett), Canadian hip-hop trio Swollen Members, a ski-porn film by Teton Gravity Research and at least a dozen other attractions.
As for dressing up, a firm prerequisite to this event, Kahn points out that skin has become more prevalent with festivities being held inside. That means plenty of Marilyn Monroes, dudes in drag and, Kahn’s favorite, a hillbilly with a sheep attached to his crotch.
Our suggested costume: Ixnay on the eepshay. Try dressing as Rainbow Bright instead. Anything involving glow sticks and a pacifier ought to work.
Additional details: Tues., Oct. 31, 8 PM until 3:30 AM. $15.
Crack Sabbath at the Top Hat
Missoula’s one-and-only Black Sabbath tribute band, currently on something like a hiatus, has made a habit of reuniting on the one night that truly makes sense, Halloween. For three of the last five years, the musicians—two of whom now reside in Chicago and Seattle, respectively—regroup, in costume, at the Top Hat and rock like its Birmingham, England circa 1969.
The band steadfastly plays tunes from the original Sabbath lineup (no Ronnie James Dio impersonators here), changes outfits at least twice and usually dedicates one surprise tribute set to another iconic band (past shows featured Blue Öyster Crack and Spinal Crack; given Crack’s compressed rehearsal schedule, this year’s tribute remains in limbo).
In addition to Crack Sabbath, the Top Hat also hosts a costume contest and wet T-shirt contest, presumably separately, but will be judged by the band.
Suggested costume: Young and spooky Ozzy and old and spacey Ozzy are getting tired. But a Geezer Butler costume oozes potential.
Additional details: Tues., Oct. 31, 9 PM. Cover TBA. Call 728-9865.
Full Metal Halloween at The Other Side
The music lineup aside—Spokane’s Takeover and locals Undun, Deadletter and Blessiddoom fill the bill—this pre-Halloween show raises all sorts of intrigue when it comes to the costume contests. Prizes will be awarded in the generic “Scariest” and slightly more promising “Sexiest” categories, as well as the class we’re most curious about: “Most Metal.”
As for the music, be on the lookout for new songs from Takeover and Undun, both of whom have recently been in the recording studio working on new albums.
Suggested costume: Iron Maiden’s “Eddie” mascot is a reliable fallback for “Most Metal.” Nigel Tufnel also works, with an added bonus if you can incorporate a Volkswagen.
Additional details: Fri., Oct. 27, 9 PM. $8/$1 off with costume.
Trick or Vote Party at The Loft
There’s a decidedly political tone to this concert. To help bolster voter turnout, Forward Montana is canvassing the area with voting guides during the early evening (see Agenda for details), and following that with a show at The Loft featuring Minnesota’s A Whisper in the Noise and locals the hermans, Riddilin Que and Victory Smokes.
The mysterious gypsy rhythms of A Whisper in the Noise are especially apt for this occasion. The quintet isn’t so much spooky as enigmatically melancholic, with dark arrangements that combine strings, piano, violin, French horn, electronics and male/female vocals that alternate between the indie-angst sneer of West Thordson and the ethereal harmonies of Sonja Larson. It’s a perfectly dark soundtrack for either the nightmare of prolonged voter apathy or the imminent sugar crash following a night of trick-or-treating.
Suggested costume: Either Jon Tester (flattop wig, pillow under the shirt, pitchfork with hay) or Conrad Burns (black hat, black trench coat, black—wait, sorry, that’s Jack Abramoff).
Additional details: Tues., Oct. 31, at 10 PM. $5/free if you participate in the door-to-door campaign.