Ghoulish grooves and monster mashes around town

October 31, 2008


The Chicago rock scene has a long tradition of pulling out all the stops on Halloween, whether it’s local bands donning the fashions and sounds of some of their musical idols for special one-off cover sets, or local venues booking the most frightening music from across the country in honor of our scariest holiday.

Here is an alphabetical look at the very best tricks and treats in club land commemorating All Hallows Eve, 2008:

The Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace

Taking the Abbey’s stage at 8:30 tonight for a cover bonanza, Dead Electric becomes AC/DC, the Bon Mots are Tom Petty, Fringe Benefit is the Cars, Phil Angotti and Brad Elvis tackle the Who, Nick Tremulis pays homage to the New York Dolls, John Aselin does the same for Tommy James and the Shondells, and Avalanche Rescue Team is the Smiths. Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door. For more information, call (773) 478-4408 or visit

The Abbey’s also got some scary delights on Saturday courtesy of “The Graveface Records Day of the Dead Showcase” with psychedelic/noise-rockers Black Moth Super Rainbow, Kid Dakota and Dreamend, plus DJ stints by the infamous Scary Lady Sarah and Hospital Ships. The show starts at 9 p.m. and tickets are $14 in advance or $16 at the door.

The Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake

Simultaneously celebrating Halloween and its sixth anniversary (though it’s only been reopened in its new location for several months), the Bottom Lounge presents an act tonight that, if it isn’t exactly chilling, is certainly alien and otherworldly in the very best sense: psychedelic soul man Aris “King” Khan. One of the highlights of last summer’s Pitchfork Music Festival while performing with his noise band the Shrines, his appearance this time is billed as “the King Khan and BBQ Show”; we’re not sure exactly what that means, but it certainly summons images of fire and brimstone. Opening are venerable local garage-rockers the Goblins, CoCoComa and the Velvet Underground-inspired Women. The show starts at 9 p.m., and tickets are $12 or $15 at the door. For more info, call (312) 929-2022 or visit

The Bottom Lounge also has a spine-tingling treat in store on Sunday starting at 9 p.m., courtesy of Swedish rockers Dungen, who cast magical, mystical spells in a nether region where progressive rock, psychedelia and indie-rock collide. Tickets are $15 in advance or at the door.

Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee

An argument can be made that every day is Halloween for Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco, who is as likely to spin rhymes about the mysteries of outer space as the horrors of inner-city life or the joys of skateboarding, and the hometown hero is making a tradition of gigging on the holiday. The doors open at 6 tonight and tickets are $27.50 to $30. Visit

Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee

The club that started the Halloween cover bands trend keeps it going strong starting at 9 tonight when the Sleepers become Aerosmith, Blackbox is Michael Jackson, the Midnight Shows are Eddie Money, My Cold Dead Hand does the Cramps and the Slingerland Ride impersonates Tom Waits. The cover is $10.

Much more terrifying, the club’s Saturday headliners are those Chicago-bred, San Francisco-based masters of hard-core punk and sheer onstage chaos, the Dwarves, making one of two Chicago-area Halloween appearances. (The other is at Reggie’s on Halloween proper, and both feature former Queens of the Stone Age terror monger Nick Oliveri playing with the band.) Maggot T---, Knuckle Dragger, Audio Violence and DJ Timebomb open at 9 p.m., and tickets are $10 advance or $12 at the door. Call (773) 489-3160 or visit

The Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western

Linking up with the Chicago Underground Film Festival, the Empty Bottle presents its ninth annual “Jukebox of the Dead” tonight with local rockers Detholz!; the band describes it as an evening of “deconstructions of soft rock and adult contemporary hits — the songs you love to hate to love.” Also on the bill are the electro-pop duo Aleks and the Drummer and mash-up artists the Hood Internet. The show starts at 10 p.m. and tickets are $12 in advance or $15. Call (773) 276-3600 or visit

Fitzgerald’s, 6615 W. Roosevelt, Berwyn

The coolest roots-rock club in the Midwest is throwing a twist into its celebration this year, abandoning its annual “Ghosts of Rock” night for an evening dubbed “Ghosts of Elections Past.” The free Halloween costume party starts at 8 p.m., is hosted by Eric Brightfield and is taking a nod from the cable TV hit “Mad Men” to celebrate “all things adult and toxic” with cool music, classic cocktails and vintage political films. Call (708) 7882118 or visit

The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia

The friendliest club in Chicago gets mean, loud and most of all heavy for Halloween starting at 10 tonight with a bill featuring the Jucifer-inspired doom combo Rabid Rabbit (celebrating the release of its first full album on the local Interloper Records label), the Boston metal band Grief, the aptly named Bloodiest and DJ Kevin Drumm. The club notes that “costumes and corpse paint are encouraged,” and the cover is $8; call (773) 227-4433 or visit

House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn

There’s nothing overtly frightening about Mexican rock/rock en espanol, but HOB’s Halloween headliner Jaguares does include among its members one Cesar Lopez, aka “El Vampiro.” The show starts at 9 tonight and tickets are $37.50 to $43. Call (312) 923-2000 or visit

Martyrs’, 3855 N. Lincoln

Martyrs’ also goes underground metal for the holiday with hard-hitting and ultra-theatrical headliners Cealed Kasket. Opening is the Martyrs’ Halloween house band Vlad the Impaler, a tribute to all-time horror-rock gods Black Sabbath. The show starts at 9 tonight and tickets are $10. For more information, call (773) 404-9494 or visit

Metro, 3730 N. Clark

The early-evening double bill of reggae-rockers Pepper and Passafire in the main room of Metro is frightening only in the wrong way, but the club does boast a true Halloween highlight when the annual Nocturna All Hallows Eve Ball possesses the space from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. In addition to the best chilling goth and darkwave sounds courtesy of the inimitable DJ Scary Lady Sarah, there’s a costume contest on the main stage with bounteous prizes, frightening film features and a Halloween-themed belly dance performance by Read My Hips. Admission is $10 with a costume, $15 without, and tickets are only available at the door. Call (773) 549-0203 or visit

Phyllis’ Musical Inn, 1800 W. Division

Among the acts taking the stage at this favorite Wicker Park Dive on Halloween is New York’s “instrumental surf/punk/sci-fi band,” the Coffin Daggers, who are guaranteed to deliver the appropriate cool and creepy sounds. Also on the bill: the Heavies and Johnny Roger. Call (773) 486-9862 for more information.

Reggie’s Rock Club, 2109 S. State

Making the first of their two scary weekend appearances, the Dwarves headline what Reggie’s is billing as “The Coffin Bangers Monster Mash Party.” The insanity starts at 9 tonight and also features a menagerie of performers including DJ Coffin Banger, rock ’n’ roll dominatrix Miss Maya Sinstress, Sajula the Sultan of Suffering, Nu Ethix Suspension, Pain-Kurst Girls, Tomas the Geek Magician and Wray Gun. Tickets are $20. Call (312) 949-0121 or visit

Ronny’s, 2101 N. California

A new contender in the Halloween cover band face-off, Ronny’s hosts Smoked Pork, a tribute to Body Count; Ben Weasel Don’t Like It, a best of Chicago punk cover band; the Misfits Cover Band, and surf-rockers Nature of the Beast starting at 9 p.m. For more info, visit

Schubas, 3159 N. Southport

Finally we come to what Schubas bills as its “Halloween Thing 2008.” Starting at 10:30 tonight, DJ Mister Wolf warms things up for Haulin’ Boats “and their ’70s AM gold classics.” The cover is $6. For more information, call (773) 525-2508 or visit