By Emma Silvers
By Gary Moskowitz
By Alee Karim
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
By Derek Opperman
By Emma Silvers
By Alee Karim
Few places on the planet embrace the dark pageantry and unbridled depravity associated with Halloween like San Francisco. And what better way to celebrate the holiday than sacrificing your sense of decorum, your better judgment, and a few thousand brain cells on the pagan altar of rawk during the extended Allhallows Weekend? Most gigs at the big-ass local venues conjure up feelings ranging from vague queasiness (Foo Fighters/Weezer at the Arena in Oakland Friday night) to downright revulsion (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young together yet again at the Shoreline's annual acoustic Bridge Benefit concerts), so for those revelers looking to capture the true spirit of Oct. 31, we've assembled this handy guide to the city's most promising mayhem.
Scariest old metal dudes: Convince some dim-bulb speed freaks you know that seeing Judas Priest and Anthrax at Konocti Harbor (www.konoctiharbor.com) on Friday would, like, totally rule. After enduring the interminable drive to Clear Lake, endless $8 Buds, and the crapulent food and roach-infested amenities of this fine "resort," your former friends will be looking to leave your ritually desecrated carcass in a ditch on the way home, West Memphis Three style. But at least you'll get to see Priest kick major ass before you die.
Scariest psychobilly crowd-watching: Since Lux Interior isn't dragging his walker up to S.F. for the Cramps' practically annual Bay Area Halloween shindig, ghoulish greasers are going to just have to make do with the Horrorpops at the Bottom of the Hill on Friday (www.bottomofthehill.com). Though the band certainly isn't reinventing the hot rod with its pedestrian take on spooky-themed garage-punk, the audience gathered will offer an excellent opportunity to play Spot the Psychobilly Fashion Cliché for shots and beers. See a guy sporting a duck's ass do? Drink. Someone with a Social D. back patch on a Von Dutch jacket? Drink. Big Daddy Roth tattoo? Drink. Girl in a picnic-tablecloth-print dress and cowboy boots? Drink. Bettie Page haircut or bad dye job? Drink, drink, drink, drink, drink, annnnnnnnnnd drink. The only trick will be not falling off your barstool before the second band plays.
Scariest death metal in 9/8 time:Nothing says Halloween like the glass-gargling, Cookie Monster vocals and galloping guitar riffs of good ol' death metal. Ordinarily, the lethal one-two combination of graphic gore-maestros Exhumed and bleak, black-metal experimentalists Ludicra at the Elbo Room (www.elbo.com) this Saturday would get our nod, but even that titanic tag team of local favorites can't compete with the apocalyptic brutality Swedish outfit Meshuggah will deal out at Pound-SF the same night (www.poundsf.com). An unholy matrimony of evil tandem guitar crunch, squealing jazz freakout solos, and spastic, odd-metered time signatures, the group's intricately crafted music has been setting the standard for state-of-the-art Scandinavian bludgeoning for over a decade. Not only did it pull off opening an entire tour for Slayer without once being pelted by cups of beer from one of metal's toughest crowds, Meshuggah regularly left the Slaytanic masses with jaws dropped and pants shat.
Scariest allusion to a 20th-century school of design:A late entry to the Halloween options, the Monday night Fillmore show (www.thefillmore.com) with goth heavyweights Bauhaus might perhaps give the band's perpetually moping fan base something to smile about. Except that most of those folks had already paid to see the band at the Warfield this week and were forced to sell all their Sisters of Mercy import 12-inch singles to afford another $45 ticket, which is sure to heap additional sadness on this already depressed batch. Word has it Bauhaus has upped the theatrical ante from the already impressive heights of the group's 1998 reunion tour, so you'll get the extra gravy of seeing a great show while simultaneously mocking the frowning, black-clad nerds in attendance.
Scariest psych soundtrack for blowing your synapses:Sure, dropping acid on Christmas Eve can be fun, but what holiday is more geared toward punting your cerebral cortex through a set of psychotropic goal posts than the 31st? There are plenty of neo-psych revivalists passing through town this weekend offering far-out entertainment. The Warlocks show at the Independent on Friday (www.theindependentsf.com) merits mention not because of the headliners' limp, acid-light shoegazer anthems, but for the brilliantly fractured new material played by Texas-via-Oakland shaman Greg Ashley and his group Gris Gris. The hirsute, neck beard-and-flannel set will doubtless congregate to worship at the feet of Devendra Banhart & the Hairy Fairy at Bimbo's 365 Club on Sunday (www.bimbos365club.com), while those looking for stronger medicine might partake in the pineal-gland stimulation provided by epic drone-rockers Sunn O))) and Japanese cosmic-sludge dealers Boris at Slim's on Monday night (www.slims-sf.com).
But far and away the most psychotic spectacle will be offered up by East Bay sound terrorists Sleepytime Gorilla Museum at Pound-SF on Halloween. The corpse-painted, avant-rock troupe references black metal, King Crimson's evil, angular prog dirges, and the percussive industrial racket of Einstürzende Neubauten with its torrential dissonance, creating a singularly terrifying and unique sound. The added onstage attraction of otherworldly butoh dancer Shinichi Momo Koga -- whom the band collaborated with for its new DVD, The Face, providing improvised pieces to Koga's expressive facial contortions -- should elevate this E-ticket symphony of angels' trumpets and devils' trombones to heights of surreal weirdness usually reserved for Burning Man's annual acid party in the middle of the Black Rock Desert.