Soundbites: Halloween Happenings and Playlist Musts (2023)

Published October 26, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.

click to enlarge Soundbites: Halloween Happenings and Playlist Musts (1)

  • Courtesy Of Luke Awtry Photography

You know, the older I get, the less I enjoy Glenn Danzig. He routinely mouths off about things that make me cringe — like the time he said he would have played the part of mutant superhero Wolverine as "less gay" than Hugh Jackman did. Or when he claimed that so-called "cancel culture" would have stopped punk music. Do I still listen to the Misfits and Samhain and Danzig? Ayup. If I didn't bail on Michael Jackson yet, I can stomach/ignore Glenn's ignorance long enough to blast Walk Among Us the minute October starts. But the dude's crappy takes could fill a column on their own. Thankfully, collecting them is not my charge today.

No, today I'm going to focus on probably the only thing that angry lil mullet-Elvis and I agree on: Halloween is easily the most rock and roll of holidays. There are skulls and ghosts and witches everywhere (which make up the subjects of approximately 23.4 percent of all rock songs. Don't check my stats; they're totally right). Everything happens in the dark of night, and no one can tell who anyone is, so chaos reigns. And what is rock and roll if not a celebration of chaos and unhinged joy? If you're doing Halloween right, that's exactly how the holiday should go down.

So, while I associate Halloween with candy and costumes and parties, I also associate it with great Halloween music. The joy I take every year in creating a spooky playlist for the season is real. This year I went with a werewolf theme, bookending my mix with the "30 Rock" Tracy Morgan/Donald Glover jam "Werewolf Bar Mitzvah" and "I Was a Teenage Werewolf" by the Cramps. With the help of a few homies, I actually curated about four hours of Halloween-themed tunes in less than 20 minutes, which just goes to show how much great, campy music All Hallows' Eve inspires.

The Vermont music scene seems to share my enthusiasm for the holiday. After a few years of pandemic-related caution, the Green Mountain State is getting into the act this week, with concerts, parties and other events to help get us all in the proper spooky mindset. There's a Halloween shindig for everyone, so let's take a quick tour!

First up is the much-anticipated Burlington Electronic Department Halloween Party on Thursday, October 27. The sixth edition of the party but the first to happen at Radio Bean, it features an assortment of electronic and dance artists. Synth-pop duo Architrave, hailing from Ballston Spa, N.Y., make their BED debut, as does Massachusetts-based DJ Xen Chron. Burlington represents with an ambient set from Takahiko Matsui, aka DJ TAKA, the return of Casper performing live dance music, and a midnight set from synth-dance crew (and BED founders) in the adjoining Light Club Lamp Shop. According to the band, this will be its final show of 2022, so don't miss it!

Heads up to all of you spoilsports who don't like to dress up for Halloween: First off, you're not cool. No one thinks you are. Second, it's $5 cheaper to get into Radio Bean if you just put in a little effort and wear a costume.

On Friday, October 28, Foam Brewers gets into the spirit with A Night at the Overlook Hotel. The Burlington brewpub is throwing a Stanley Kubrick-themed party and encouraging attendees to dress as any character from the famous director's films. And, sure, it'll be great to see some (hopefully foam) ax-wielding Jack Torrances running around and screaming, "Here's Johnny!" But I'm hoping to catch sight of someone dressed as Slim Pickens' character Major "King" Kong. All you need to be the rodeo-riding cowboy pilot from Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb is a missile between your legs (hello, nurse!) and a cowboy hat.

As far as music goes, it's a triple bill at Foam Brewers, starting with a DJ set by Debby Nights and continuing with Burlington 10-piece garage rockers the Bubs. Brooklyn noise-rock outfit STUY close out the evening.

Also on Friday, the Depot in St. Albans hosts the return of the HalloQueen-themed drag show. Hosted by Carlos the Über Driver, the burlesque show features New York City's Amanda Pörq and Boston-based queen Patty Bourreé. Visit for more info and to book tickets.

The Saturday before Halloween is traditionally the biggest party night of the holiday weekend, and this year is no exception. Down in Montpelier, there's a great indie rock show happening at the best dive bar in Vermont, Charlie-O's World Famous. Synth rockers New Erotics join Burlington's Beneath Black Waves and new-wave act Magic Users for a solid block of '80s-leaning synth punk. If someone at that show isn't dressed up like the Crow, I'll be fucking shocked.

What would a Burlington Halloween scene be without at least some Grateful Dead-adjacent content? MLS Music presents Grateful Dead Night, live at Burlington City Hall Auditorium. Featuring New York City-based Dead tribute act Take a Step Back and local outfit Pen Hits, who specialize in honoring the era of the band that featured late keyboardist Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, Saturday promises to be an evening of loooong jams. Guests are encouraged to dress up in Grateful Dead costumes.

There better be a zombie Jerry Garcia, that's all I'm saying. How high would eating those brains get you? Too soon?

Now, I hear what some of you are saying: What about those of us with the dedication to party on a Monday? For most, Halloween falling on the first day of the workweek is far from ideal, but there are plenty of people who will fuck around and find out with their Tuesdays, the brave souls. Is there anything worse than the at-work post-Halloween hangover?

click to enlarge Soundbites: Halloween Happenings and Playlist Musts (3)

  • Courtesy
  • All Night Boogie Band

Something tells me that anyone looking to celebrate on October 31 will have plenty of options. Higher Ground has South Burlington covered, as the Ballroom hosts a showcase of Burlington's funkiest, bluesiest acts. Bobby Coe & the Hive, the Moondogs, No Showers on Vacation and All Night Boogie Band fill out a hefty bill sure to keep the energy going, even after a weekend of celebrating the arcane. Suggested costume: person who thought ahead and took Tuesday off from work. There's a life hack for you.

Consider this a road map for Halloween party seekers. It's just a sample of what's going on, though, so be sure to check out our club listings and calendar for more. Now, pardon me while I hold my nose long enough to cue up "Die, Die My Darling."

Best (Unknown) Halloween Songs

Look, it's easy to fill a Halloween playlist with songs like "Thriller" and "Monster Mash." I'm not saying to skip those tunes, but if you're looking to dive a little deeper with your scary mix, here are some lesser-known cuts:

1. "Every Day Is Halloween" by Ministry. Before he was making crushing industrial metal albums, Ministry's Al Jourgensen put out some serious synth pop. No tune better encapsulates that phase of his career than "Every Day Is Halloween," a dance-ready track about being proud of your inner (or outer) goth.

2. "Witchcraft" by Frank Sinatra. Sometimes you have to put some class on your party. So toss some Ol' Blue Eyes on your mix and pour yourself a stiff one from the bar. Or just eat some shitty candy you wouldn't touch on any other day of the year!

3. "1-800 Suicide" by Gravediggaz. They're the greatest horror-themed rap crew ever, boasting Wu-Tang Clan's the RZA, as well as Prince Paul and members of Stetsasonic. There are few better records to spin in October than 6 Feet Deep.

4. "Satanic Slumber Party Part 2 (Midnight in Sodom)" by Tropical Fuck Storm and King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. Full credit goes to my homie Justus Gaston from math rockers Sad Turtle for this pick. I mean, the name says it all. Go ahead and slap that mother in your mix.

About The Author

Chris Farnsworth

Music editor Chris Farnsworth has written countless albums reviews and features on Vermont's best musicians, and has seen more shows than is medically advisable. He's played in multiple bands over decades in the local scene and is a recording artist in his own right. He can often be found searching for the perfect soft pretzel or listening to a podcast about the X-Men.

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