Kids may be donning their favorite ninja suits and invading neighborhoods in search of candy this weekend. But at local venues, Madison bands will be testing new instrumental tricks and presenting familiar musical treats.
That's because a whole lot of Madison groups plan to cover famous national bands and play tribute shows, mostly on Saturday. 1980s and 1990s music nostalgia may flow faster than the beer at the High Noon, Barrymore Theatre, Frequency, Crystal Corner and Mickey's Tavern. The High Noon's tribute extravaganza includes a Friday night lineup, too.
I caught up with five Madison musicians last week to ask them how they picked the band they'll be covering, how they're dressing up and what favorite cover song they'll perform at the show.
The Sean Michael Dargan Band and guests as the Cure
The Nod as Pearl Jam
Sean Michael Dargan: There is a long list of bands that I love and have covered for years. The Cure is high on that list. They're perfect for Halloween - big spiky hair, extensive makeup, dark, brooding and amazing songs.
I will absolutely be dressed as Robert Smith. The rest of the band all bought wigs for their costumes, but the universe has blessed me with very Robert Smithian hair.
"Push" is my favorite Cure tune by far, and it will be the cornerstone of our set, about halfway through our 45 minutes.
Brett Newski: Dane101 [the sponsor of the High Noon show] called upon us as the default '90s grunge choice, for some reason. I think we listed way too many grunge bands on our MySpace influence page. We chose Pearl Jam because they had more of a cult following, and I knew it would be funnier if I tried to knock off Eddie Vedder.
I am dressing up as Eddie and hope to sound at least one-tenth of his raspy rage. It will be a worthy effort, and I definitely won't look cool doing it.
We are dressing early '90s Pearl Jam, the grungiest version. The Ten era. So far the band's mutual favorite Pearl Jam song is "Corduroy." We are busting out a couple of the slower jams, but mostly engage the rage with all the Pearl Jam staples you'd expect.
Orphan Bloom as Soundgarden
El Valiente as Pavement
Saigopal Nelaturi: We picked Soundgarden because we're all big fans of the band and count them as influences on our individual and collective musical styles. Soundgarden combined catchy, aggressive music with really interesting twists that make them stand out.
We can't seem to get "The Day I Tried to Live" out of our heads with all the crazy chromatic turnarounds. In the process of learning the song we accidentally started playing the theme to Phantom of the Opera. We're probably going to incorporate that somewhere in the song.
Eric Caldera: Each person in El Valiente is a huge Pavement fan. It borders on obsession, really. I remember one time sitting around and telling "the first time I heard Pavement" stories. After we decided we wanted to do a Halloween cover show, it was pretty easy to decide to cover Pavement.
The other day I was looking at old Pavement videos online, trying to figure out how to actually dress up as Pavement. So I'm wearing what I wore on Monday.
Droids Attack as Helmet
Brad Van: We started learning a Helmet song to throw into our set every now and again. When this Halloween show came up we decided to learn a whole set. Helmet's style is unique. That's presented some interesting challenges, particularly with their odd timing and the unusual way they structure their songs, but that's exactly why we appreciate them and why they are a fun band for us to take on.
I'll be Page Hamilton. He's the only original member left in the band. The other guys will just be some random hired guns.
I like playing the more recognizable songs like "Meantime," "Unsung" and "Milquetoast," but my favorites are the more difficult to play, like "I Know," and "Turned Out." Our drummer Tony is taking on the drum solo in "FBLA II," which is no easy feat. John Stanier is a tough guy to emulate. I also like playing their older stuff from their Am Rep days, which have been difficult to decipher because the recording quality is pretty terrible on those releases.