Under the Cover (Bands) of Darkness: Halloween Tribute Shows Roundup

What’s better than standing through a packed, sweaty show while wearing an itchy wig and ill-fitting polyester hand-me-down costume? Doing so while watching one of your favorite local bands transform itself into one of your all-time favorite bands, all while wearing their own crooked wigs, fake blood, or plastic vampire teeth. Here’s a guide to this year’s especially ambitious crop of Halloween cover bands:

Under the Covers III at The Knockout, 9 p.m., Thursday Oct. 29, $7 theknockoutsf.com
Remember when you were a kid and Halloween was pretty much confined to a 24-hour period? Thankfully, now you’re an adult, and Halloween has transformed into a three-day weekend. Adult you is also better equipped to enjoy a cover show at The Knockout, featuring tributes to Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill, Television Personalities, and Gary Glitter.

Night of the Living Shreds at Brick and Mortar, 9 p.m., Friday Oct. 30, $10 brickandmortarmusic.com

The combination of dream pop duo O with indie pop quartet The French Cassettes doesn’t exactly scream James Brown, but Halloween’s all about becoming something totally different than yourself, right? Psychedelic garage rockers Everyone is Dirty will take on David Bowie, and alt-pop trio Summer Peaks will perform songs by everyone’s favorite “the” band, The Strokes.

Halloween Pre-Party/ Party at the Makeout Room, 7:30 p.m. Friday Oct. 30 and Sat. Oct. 31, $8 makeoutroom.com

If you’d like to spend two nights in a row at the Makeout Room (and with those cozy booths, who wouldn’t), you can catch The Queens of Noise, an all-girl tribute to The Runaways, and Space Junk, Devo cover band, on Friday. Head there again on Saturday to see The Cramp-ons (as The Cramps) and reggae revivalists the Titan-Ups (as themselves). Both shows are early, so you can stop here first before heading out for more late-night cover band action.

Hallorager IV at Thee Parkside, 9 p.m., Sat. Oct. 31, $10, $8 with costume, theeparkside.com

You don’t need to be an Ozzy fan to enjoy the explosive magic that is SF’s Black Sabbath cover band Bobb Sagetth. If you are, you will never hear Ozzy’s voice again without recalling the majestic howl of Saggeth’s lead singer Meryl Press. SF’s own Devo cover band, Mongoloid, will headline the show, Family Matters will take on the repertoire of TV Personalities, and Banquet play Thin Lizzy.

Fourteenth Annual Murder Ballads Bash at The Starry Plough, 9 p.m. Sat. Oct. 31, $8-$15 sliding scale. thestarryploughpub.com

If you’re more into scary stories around the campfire than Halloween dance party freak-outs, an evening of murder ballad covers at Berkeley’s cozy pub The Starry Plough might be in order. A long list of performers including Antonette Goroch, Loretta Lynch, the Alegre Sisters, and The Happy Clams will delve into the tradition of seductive, creepy songs about homicidal lovers and ill-fated sexual triangles.

Halloween New Years at The Starline Social Club, 8 p.m., Sat. Oct. 31, $10, www.starlinesocialclub.com

With recent appearances by Saul Williams and Mudhoney, the upstairs ballroom in Oakland’s Starline Social Club is turning out to be a pro venue with a unique vibe. For Halloween, they’ll let you explore all three floors of the building, including something called a “secret absinthe bar.” Prince cover band Purple Heart will perform, as will longtime local favorites The Lovemakers (as The Cure) and Oakland indie rockers Saything (as Nirvana).

A Manic Hallows Eve at Eli’s Mile High Club, 8 p.m., Sat. Oct. 31, $10 in costume, $8 without, www.elismilehigh.com

If your tastes run a little harder, Eli’s in Oakland is hosting a night of tributes to ’70s and ’80s punk bands, including The Ramones, Blitz, Parálisis Permanente, and Discharge. Halloween is all about being loud, lonely, and little antisocial, right? This gig is put on and performed by some real Bay Area punk and hardcore OGs like Side Effects (opps I mean Korrosive) and Peligro Social (opps I mean Ruleta Rusa). A cover night for punks by punks. 

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