Quick-change artists: Local bands don new duds for Halloween
The recent spate of local musicians hanging up their collective instruments and calling it quits is, admittedly, disheartening for the Charlottesville music scene. No one wants to hear that their favorite ragtag band is splitting up to focus on their real 9-5 careers elsewhere. Couple that with the cancellation of the annual Mass Sabbath concert, and what have you to attend this Halloween season?
Never fear, says ten of the remaining local force–- we're here to pick up the pieces. When Mass Sabbath, the must-attend for true Halloween junkies for the past five years, was canceled, the network of rockers in town collaborated to create something more diverse, more Halloween, and more accessible.
"It's bands impersonating other bands, in the spirit of Halloween" explains Nate Bolling of Astronomers.
"And it's can't miss–- if you get enough of the right people together, you can't miss it," agrees Hunter Smith.
The Frankenstein brain-child of Smith, frontman for Hunter Smith and The Dead Men, Bolling, and Marie Landragin, of Corsair, The Mock Stars' Ball was as much inspired by the dearth of Halloween happenings in town as the desire to collaborate with fellow Charlottesville bands for a mass showcase.
"I wanted enough of a mix, so it wasn't a pop show or a metal show, enough of a mix to make it the thing that people do," explains Smith. "I had a dream list of bands I liked, who had good followings, and who would pick cool bands to do."
It's a simple enough concept: bands literally reemerge as a cover band for the night, down to the look and feel of said band. Throw ten bands into the mix and you've got the makings of an epic festival of local talent. Over two nights and on two stages, witness the arrival of Spinal Tap, Queen, The Strokes, Tom Petty, and The Misfits, among others, as channeled through the likes of Corsair, Astronomers, The Sometime Favorites, The Petty Files, and Katherine Jackson. Each participating act was intrigued by the playful, yet challenging appeal of the show's concept–- to "dress up" as another band, mastering every lick and chord of an infamous' band's repertoire.
"We wanted to choose a band we all liked, that we could learn without having to kill ourselves, and still have fun," says Smith of his group's choice, The Cars. "It's a lot different from the nature of our stuff–- if we did something like us, it would be lame as sh*t, it would be John Mayer or Ben Folds. We were looking for something that's more fun than what we do."
"It's fresh to be able to do something different, to take a break from what you've been focusing and sweating over," adds Bolling.
One ticket gets you in for both nights and late-night DJs will keep the party rolling after the rock stars have moved on. Costume contest–- of course! Halloween drink specials–- why not? For all non-children touting dress-up fanatics, local music has essentially brought the party to you.
"Every band that's playing is a crowd-pleaser," says guitarist Katie Jackson of Teenagers From Mars. "It'll be a wonderful backdrop to Halloween dressing-up and having an awesome time."
While Mass Sabbath is an event sure to be mourned by loyal attendees, the Mock Stars' Ball reaches fans turned off by the hardcore appeal of Black Sabbath covers, while avoiding the spectacle of a Lady Gaga or Taylor Swift cover artist that would potentially dissuade rock-n-rollers from coming out. But it's not just the spirit of Halloween and dress-up that brings these bands together–- it's an obvious testament to the cohesion and mutual respect the still-thriving local scene has to offer, albeit through the melodies of The Beatles and the chords of The Cars.
The full Mock Stars' Ball line-up:
Corsair as Spinal Tap
Astronomers as Queen
The Sometime Favorites as The Strokes
Hunter Smith and the Dead Men as The Cars
Borrowed Beams of Light as The Stooges
The Petty Files as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Julius Hangman as The Beatles
Teenagers From Mars as The Misfits
Slick Willy & The Interns as Alice in Chains
Naughty Dynamic and the Design as The Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Mock Stars' Ball is Saturday, October 30, and Sunday, October 31 at The Southern. Doors open at 8pm, and tickets are $10 on Saturday (good for two nights) and $6 on Sunday.