[The Bay Area is actively producing and attracting experimentalists, multimedia performance artists, cult punk ritualists, and innovative anti-socials with no capacity for self-promotion. Hidden Agenda is a column that spreads the word about their performances.]
Horror film imagery, macabre fixations, black humor, and assuming false identities are mutual virtues of rock and Halloween. Every year they collide. This installment of Hidden Agenda focuses on imminent meetings of disguise, fright, and performance that seem likely to become Dyonisian bacchanals of surreal terror and chemical revelry.
Eeclectic East Bay vintage store and hair salon Down at Lulu's presents an evening of cover acts and competitive dress-up on Thursday, Oct. 24, at the White Horse. Uzi Rash's Max Nordile is set to assemble an ensemble that will deal dirges of The Troggs, though last year he promised covers of the Fall and did the Doors instead. By that logic, he might get up there and stun with a Rod McKuen recital. Also, Chuckleberries and Factrix salute opposite ends of the '60s spectrum with renditions of the Beach Boys and Velvet Underground, respectively.
On Halloween proper, local booking entity Total Trash begins its holiday series with cover sets at the Stork Club from Nobunny as Bo Diddley and Shannon and the Clams as Los Saicos. Both acts borrow freely from pop and punk tropes of yesteryear in their original music. Here, each band will showcase previously obscured corners of their record collections, likely proving that sly homage is great prep for outright imitation. That same night, Glitter Wizard adopts the Damned's surging theatrics alongside Twin Steps' glitter-laden reverence for glam staple T. Rex at Thee Parkside.
Sacramento quartet Screature deals in goth theatrics all year, which clearly warrants honorary inclusion here. Live, singer Liz Mahoney's husky invectives and dour demeanor lead taut grooves below siren-like guitars. It's a more abrasive slice of the same black velvet cloth over Sacramento that once enshrouded Chelsea Wolfe. Screature breaks from dancing on top of crypts to play Friday, Oct. 25, with Lebanon Hanover and Selofan at DNA Lounge.
The Halloween cover set ritual in 2013 feels eerily familiar. If an artist like Nordile plays loose and fast with the Troggs' primitive savagery, will it resemble The Troggs like Dirty Beaches resemble Suicide? Are Shannon and the Clams set to cover Los Saicos for one night like Crocodiles cover the Jesus and Mary Chain all year? Have we unknowingly stepped into a new cover band epoch? Ideally, retro influences are just starting points and inspiration. Still, new groups revere the past all year. Halloween lets them admit it.