Two things about Halloween are constant: It falls on October 31, and any band with a theatrical element to its live show will be playing a gig. Every day is Halloween for GWAR, a group of Virginia Commonwealth students who dress up in latex monster costumes and shower their audiences with fake blood and bodily fluids. The band will likely play songs such as "Baby Raper" and "Fuckin' an Animal" as it douses the Agora Ballroom on October 29, with the Misfits, Murphy's Law, and Speed Dealer opening the show. Mushroomhead, Cleveland's answer to GWAR, will play its annual Halloween show on October 30 at the Agora to celebrate the release of its third album and wreak the usual havoc. Man-O-War, a band most famous for wearing animal skins and doing a solo-bass arrangement of the "William Tell Overture," will be at the Flying Machine (3970 Josephine Street, Lorain) on October 31, and an assortment of local bands (including From the Depths, One Grisly Day, and Regurgitation) will be playing the second annual "Music Macabre" showcase on October 30 at the Phantasy Night Club (11802 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood). A Goth music showcase and circus sideshow will follow the event. Doors open at 5 p.m. On October 30 at the Highland Theatre (826 West Market Street, Akron), you can watch the 1973 horror flick From Beyond the Grave and then listen to the King Dapper Combo and Twang Bang. The event is billed as "Halloween Creeptacular: Rock and Roll to Raise the Dead," and admission is $5 if you come in costume.
Parliament/Funkadelic alumni George Clinton and Bernie Worrell recently passed through town, but another group of ex-P-funksters, the Original P, will play a masquerade ball at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on October 29. It's sponsored by Plugged In, an official affiliate of the Rock Hall that's trying to put on events specifically geared to the twenty- and thirtysomething crowd. Tickets are a steep $60, but that includes food and drinks, so go hungry and thirsty. On Saturday, October 30, at Guzzlers Arena (15320 Brookpark Road) Victory Flag, the Regulars, and Eternal Struggle will play a free, all-ages Halloween hardcore show. The doors open at 9 p.m. And finally, there's a rave called "Slaphappy" happening on October 30-31 at an undisclosed site in Cleveland. Several local DJs (Prodigal Son, FU, Jon Doe, and others) are scheduled to spin. An info line (216-556-4204) has been set up to provide details -- but take it from someone who spent one Halloween driving around aimlessly to find the site of a so-called rave, and have a back-up plan for this show.
Halloween also is apparently a good time for bands and labels to call it quits. Studbull's Disco Biscuit will play its last show on October 29 at the Bottom Line (3463 Fulton Avenue). Toka and King Plug open the show, and the first 30 people who show up wearing costumes will receive a free CD. Doors open at 9 p.m. On October 30 the High Plains Drifters (who have been together for 15 years) make their final appearance together at Annabell's in Highland Square (784 W. Market Street). The Nimrods will open. And finally, Sonic Swirl Records will call it a day on October 31, the date of its fifth anniversary. During the course of its existence, Sonic Swirl put out 23 7-inches and five full-lengths, but owner Mike Albertson has decided to close up shop, citing the fact that "today's bands have no original sound," among other reasons. Sonic Swirl was home to locals like Quazi Modo, Slak, the Aggravators, the Conservatives, S.S.I., Nick Riff, and the Pagans. R.I.P.
The jumpy ska track "Work and Play," which is available for download at MP3.com, has increased the profile of singer-guitarist David Sebold ever since it reached the top of the ska charts. Originally, Sebold was added to the Dayton, Ohio date of the MP3.com-sponsored "Music and Technology" tour, which features the Goo Goo Dolls and Tonic. Unfortunately that show was canceled, but Sebold and his band (bassist Dustin J. Elliot, guitarist Dan Shramo, drummer Jepson Starel) were added to a show that took place at Michigan State University on October 16 and played before a crowd of 12,000 people -- their largest audience ever (and that's not counting the listeners who checked out the broadcast of the show over the Internet). Sebold thinks the Internet has been crucial in getting him name recognition beyond Cleveland.
"I could have a CD out right now, but if it's not going to get outside of Ohio, what good does it do me?" he says. "I've had two companies from Japan ask me to take songs off MP3 and put them on compilations. It's opened up a whole different world. The trick is to get the people to download it, and I didn't do anything to promote it."
About 900 people showed up on October 15 for a rave that Sphere Productions hosted at the Agora Ballroom. The event, which ran from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., featured a host of DJs from Cleveland and Youngstown, including LS Diaz, Mattie, Tigger, Ian Mariano, DJ Darwin, DeepBlue, Ben Kenobi, and Hazey. Promoter Brian Conti of Sphere Productions says he hopes the dance scene here will develop into something along the lines of an L.A. or San Francisco, and he has two more events planned for December. Consult his website (sphereproductions.com) for more information.
The Cleveland Bar Association will present a series of panels on "Music and the Internet" on November 3 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Topics include "Legal Issues Surrounding Digital Distribution," "Internet Radio," "Licensing Issues Respecting DVD Audio," and "The Effect of the Internet on the Retail Environment." Panels start at 1 p.m., break for dinner at 5:30 p.m., and then continue from 6:45 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Registration for artists is only $25.
Wilbert's at the Diamondback promoter Michael Miller has recently turned what was initially supposed to be a brief business venture in Florida into a permanent leave of absence, and Jim Wadsworth has taken over promotion duties in his place. While Wadsworth admits to having to tie up some "loose ends" that Miller left behind (among them, rescheduling a David Murray concert for October 29), he hopes to continue to bring that kind of national talent (mostly of a jazz and folk nature) to town, and he has tentative plans to remodel and expand the club -- which has been housed in the Diamondback Brewery since moving out of its longtime home in the Warehouse District last summer -- but he doesn't anticipate that it will move its location. -- Jeff Niesel
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