By NATE WAGGONER
Nobunny (as "Zombunny," performing a variety of punk Halloween covers)
Shannon and the Clams (as The Misfits)
Audacity (as The Adolescents)
Uzi Rash (as The Doors)
October 26, 2012
The New Parish
Better than: Being haunted by the ghost of G.G. Allin.
The Halloween cover show has become as much a staple of the East Bay rock 'n' roll scene as denim jackets, Tecate, and shows that start way later than they're supposed to. the New Parish is inherently Halloweenish, with its exceptionally dim lighting and cavernous structure. On Friday, a man in a ghost costume -- a sheet with two holes -- came onto the stage and read supernatural-themed jokes to the audience before introducing each band. "What was the mummy's favorite musical genre? Wrap music!" Over the course of the evening, the audience grew increasingly vocal about its collective disdain for these jokes.
Uzi Rash, originally advertised to perform songs by the post-punk group The Fall, took the stage dressed as hippies and jumped into "Hello, I Love You" by The Doors instead. The lead singer had a fuzzy black fright wig taped onto his head, and the front of his pants was stuffed (one assumes). They were much better than the milquetoasty remainders of the real Doors I went to see two summers ago, with whatever reprehensible male model they had hired to be Morrison. Plus, last night's Morrison stand-in berated the audience just like the real lizard king might have: "You're all a bunch of fuckin' sheep!"
If bands' Halloween cover performances can correlate to individual Halloween costumes, Uzi Rash's set last night would perhaps be akin to an extremely well-executed, homemade Beetlejuice: not obscure, but not expected, either; an impressive, guaranteed hit.
Audacity's set as 1980's Orange County punks The Adolescents, then, might be compared to my own costume this Halloween: I'm going as Gomez Addams from The Addams Family, because I already have a three-piece pinstripe suit and a mustache. It's a solid choice, it's fun, but it requires minimal effort on my part.
By this logic, one should've been disappointed by Shannon and the Clams' choice to appear as The Misfits. After all, the Clams are one of the most exciting and original new bands to come out of this scene, and last Halloween they could be seen performing as Creedence Clearwater Revival. And if cover bands are like costumes, covering The Misfits is totally like going as "The Crow:" too obvious, too overdone.
But it was an absolute treat to hear Shannon and her bandmate King Lollipop wail lines like the final one in The Misfits' "Last Caress" in their signature raspy croons, and the bands' clean guitars and noisy drums sounded great on more punk-influenced numbers. During "Skulls," women in revealing skeleton outfits threw candy at the crowd. If Misfits covers are like The Crow, Shannon and the Clams doing Misfits covers was like having a very likeable and handsome friend who happened to go as The Crow and really own it.
Before Nobunny, the joke-telling ghost hosted a costume contest, during which various audience members got up onstage and the crowd would cheer or boo the costumes. First place went to a classic robot, second to a Carrie White complete with prom dress and blood, and third to a Lisa Simpson complete with yellow skin and perfect spiky hair. Other worthy costumes included the Insane Clown Posse (who sprayed the critically-reviled rap group's favorite soda, Faygo, on the crowd,) celebrity chef Guy Fieri, Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie, and a Whoopie cushion.
Nobunny took the stage in his customary filthy rabbit mask and briefs, but in a Freddy Krueger sweater rather than his usual leather jacket. His band featured the Wolfman on bass, a mummy drummer, and Dracula on guitar. Their set consisted of as great a Halloween playlist of songs as one could ask for: The menacing but not overtly festive "Little Red Riding Hood" by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, followed by Screaming Lord Sutch's "Jack the Ripper." "Strychnine" by The Sonics stood out, as did Roky Erickson's "Two-Headed Dog." Shannon and two other female singers backed up the band on "The Monster Mash" and the theme from "Ghostbusters." The Screamin' Jay Hawkins classic "Little Demon" ended the night.
Everyone shuffled out, and the floor by this point was covered in smashed candy corn, cheap soda, booze, and the contents of some unfortunate person's backpack full of homework. "You guys scorched the PA, thank you so much," said someone over the microphone. "Wolfman, I got your guitar strap."
Poignant detail: Someone in an angel costume vomiting in a trash bin.
Final quote from Uzi Rash's fake Jim Morrison: "I am the lizard king, and I shop exclusively at Home Depot."
If you missed it: See Nobunny and Shannon and the Clams Halloween night at Brick & Mortar Music Hall.