For the last decade or more, the Chicago club scene has embraced Halloween with the unique tradition of local bands transmogrifying onstage into some of their musical heroes, donning the costumes and playing some of the songs that they grew up loving, or which inspired them to make music of their own in the first place.
It’s a fine chance to see groups that we think we know showing us another, sometimes unexpected side of themselves, and I’m a bit disappointed to see that fewer clubs are upholding the tradition this holiday weekend. Here is a look at the best of those who are, as well as a few other frighteningly festive picks.
Schubas is kicking things off early with its Halloween show starting at 8 tonight. After the international premiere screening of the independent film “Life by Numbers,” Victorian Halls will take the stage as Brand New, Republic of Lights and Kevin Thomas will become the Strokes, and Suns will channel Black Sabbath. Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door.
The Abbey Pub is presenting not one but two nights of alter-ego fun. Starting on Friday night at 8:30, Sentinels will become the MC5; the lovable ork-pop band Canasta will be Elton John; Who’s This Mary, the Cure; Ellis Clark & Epicycle, the Beatles; Penthouse Sweets, the Kinks, and Tomorrow the Moon, Pink Floyd. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door.
Saturday at the Abbey is just as promising, with Androstache as the Pretenders; Curtis Evans as Nirvana; the Delafields, New Order; the Webstirs, the Beach Boys; Phil Angotti, Buddy Holly, and ZZ Listening, ZZ Top. Once again, the show starts at 8:30 p.m., and tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door.
This year, for its 14th annual Halloween Bash, Double Door has boiled down what in the past has been two or three nights of festivities to one strong evening starting at 9 p.m. Saturday. The Last Vegas will become Aerosmith; the Midnight Shows, Duran Duran; Blackbox, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts; Husker Dudes, Hüsker Dü, and the Sweeps, the Cars. Tickets are $12 to $20.
Outside of the covers realm, the coolest Halloween happening is, as always, the Annual Nocturna All Hallow's Eve Ball, now in its 22nd year. DJ Scary Lady Sarah will return to her old stomping grounds to once again reign as queen of the local Goth scene, spinning the best of that genre as well as industrial, death-rock, ethereal, shoegaze, darkwave, dark indie, and more, and, needless to say, the costumes won’t be edgier anywhere. The unholy doings start at 11:30 p.m. Saturday, and they include a costume contest. Tickets are $16 for those in costume, or $19 for those who’ve wimped out.
For the nostalgia-mined—or at least the nostalgia-minded who don’t mind that the band never has been the same without Glenn Danzig—New Jersey horror-punks the Misfits perform at 7:30 p.m. on Halloween Sunday at the Vic Theatre. Juicehead and the Turbo Vamps open, and tickets are $22.50 via jamusa.com.
Finally, we come to my choice for the most bone-rattling, blood-chilling lineup of original music this holiday season, the three-band lineup Sunday night at the Hideout (a very friendly place, of course, but that sparsely populated stretch of Elston can be pretty spooky). “Halloween Doom” kicks off at 9 p.m. and features the Chicago doom band Indian, French metal maestros Monarch! , and Chicago monsters of rock Rabid Rabbit. The cover is $10 (and bring your earplugs!).