Welcome to the War on Xmas, pt. II. If it were up to me, starting every Oct. 1st, every department store–and one random radio station–would start playing Halloween music all damn day and night. From the classics (Boris Pickett’s “Monster Mash”) to unheralded gems (Bob Marley’s “Dracula”) to the downright stupid (Zacherley’s “Dinner with Drac”), Halloween music is the by far the best holiday music out there. Plus, October is also the height of the fall concert season, which means delights both ghoulish and sublime can be found in Iowa City’s venues this month. The Picador calendar alone is enough to fill your metaphorical goody bag, so bring a toothbrush—especially if you end up going home with the 35th “Slutty Devil” you run into that night.
About that big night, and Phish-heads get together now, we have a long tradition of bands donning “musical costumes” to pay tribute to the music they love. This makes Halloween no different from any other night at the Yacht Club, which must be the number one venue in the world for cover bands. We Funk will do their Halloween duty by playing P-Funk songs. Over at the Mill, some of the best local indie rock bands will be having a tribute fest variety show of their own. Mannix will play the part of Blondie, their friends and fellow rocknrollers The Puritanicals will be The Beatles, 12 Cannons is David Bowie, and Shame Train will be performing Neutral Milk Hotel’s classic In the Aeroplane Over the Sea it it’s entirety. I’m really looking forward to Sam Knutson singing “Semen stains the mountaintops”–well, I would be looking forward to it if I weren’t going to see some guy named Stephen Malkmus play the Picador. I don’t expect a lot of covers, but I do expect some old songs and a lot of new ones, especially from his damn fine most recent album, Real Emotional Trash.
Speaking of Malkmus, he’s also played with the Silver Jews, who followed 2005’s excellent record Tanglewood Numbers with this year’s Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea. Fronted by the talented David Berman, they’ll play The Picador on the 9th, setting into motion a series of concerts that are sure to jeopardize your ability to attend work or class. On the 11th, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone headlines a super-intimate show at Public Space One, also featuring Brooklyn loop-rocker Ill Ease along with up-and-coming acts Gangi and Rainbow Arabia. The show will be $5, all ages, and almost certainly pack the house. Two days later, on the 13th, Spencer Seim (of Hella) brings his solo project sBACH to PS1, and then you have a few days to rest before Genghis Tron hits the Picador on the 17th. Two days later the Philadelphia madmen Man Man will also play The Pic. This six-piece band is fronted by a man named Sergei Sogay, and the band’s on a label (Anti-) with fellow shouters Tom Waits and Will Whitmore. The live show is said to be a sweaty, bizarre carnival.
If you like bands that have women in them (still too rare, you know?), then I would check out Baby Guts at Public Space One on the 4th, bringing their brand of punk alongside local faves Lipstick Homicide. Also playing is MC/VL, a Minneapolis hip-duo (they’re dudes, sorry), who rocked last year’s Mission Creek fest so hard that they were added to another show the next night. Other shows, briefly, of note: Sunset Rubdown at the Picador on the 2nd, Melissa Ferrick at The Mill on the 20th, Roommate at Public Space One on the 25th.