Wednesday, September 22, 2010

13 Songs to Haunt By

Well, it's that time of the year again, when little kids make their moms buy them overpriced costumes of the latest superhero to be featured in a summer blockbuster and the Kent crowd tries to outdo one another with drinking feats, costumes, and parties. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Halloween is nearly upon us. Many of you probably decided on a costume months ago, or will do so in the following week or two. If you are anything like me, you will also be watching horror flicks while munching on candy, eating apple or pumpkin pie and washing it all down down with some (hard?) cider. Costumes, candy, food, horror movies... Am I missing anything? If you answered no, you are wrong, and if you answered yes, read on...

Music is perhaps the most neglected aspect of Halloween. When Halloween music is brought up in conversation it usually starts with the
Friday the 13th or Halloween theme and ends with the "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett. This neglects the numerous other songs that are either inspired by Halloween or maybe simply fit the spirit of the holiday. Because of this, I have decided to compile a Halloween playlist, composed of my 13 favorite Halloween-esque songs, listed below: (While the "Monster Mash" is indeed catchy and a good song on its own right, I have decided to exclude it from this list in order to allow for more variety.)

"Dead Can't Testify" by Billy Talent: From their third album (aptly called Billy Talent III), this song is about the Salem witch trials. It is from the point of view of an innocent soul who is accused of being a witch and given the full treatment. The solution? Haunting the perpetrators until they die.

"Enter Sandman" by Metallica: This song is the lullaby the devil never wrote. Hetfield has always had a demonic voice, but ironically, he never sounded more demonic than when he utters "Hush little baby don't say a word...". The children's prayer in the middle of the song manages to take this one over the top.

11. "Nightmare On My Street" by DJ Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith
: One of the more lighthearted entries in this list, Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith do an awesome job of bringing both Freddy and the Nightmare to the hood. The dialogue manages to stay "fresh" (pun intended) despite the length of the song.The background sound effects and the ending of the song are also priceless.

10. "Bark at the Moon" by Ozzy Osbourne
: Of course I was gonna have a song by the prince of fucking darkness. It just wouldn't be right without him. It's a song about the moon. You do the math.

9. "
Gasoline" by Brand New: From their 2009 album, Daisy, "Gasoline" evokes images of the dark and macabre in human nature. It manages to go from fast to slow in a split second, which adds to its intensity. The fact that Jesse Lacey sounds as though he were on the verge of desperation and madness helps to make this a very sinister song.

8. "Teenagers from Mars" by The Network (Misfits Cover)
: Originally a song by the Misfits, Billy Joe Armstrong's short lived side project manages to breathe new life into this old classic. Alien domination never sounded so fun.

7. "Your Neck" by Alkaline Trio: Anybody who knows me knows that the Trio are my all time favorite band, bar none. Matt Skiba has the ability to infuse his songs with his own brand of witty dark humor while still making them sound refined. Example? "I'll do my very best to keep my feelings off my chest/and out of your neck, and out of your neck...". Matt is a Misfits fan. Who would've thunk it?

6. "Pet Sematary" by The Ramones
: The godfathers of punk make our top 10 list with this 1989 song. Accompanied by a very entertaining video, The Ramones keep it short and sweet: "I don't want to be buried in a pet sematary/I don't want to live my life again". By the way, am I the only one who can totally see Joey Ramone and his crew as zombies?

5. "Night of the Living Dead" by Misfits
: No Halloween song list would be complete without a song by the original Misfits. Although almost half of their catalog is about B-Horror movies, it was hard to pick just one song by them (they actually have 3 on the list). Although I felt tempted to go with the obvious choice, I could not include the Misfits' "Halloween" on the list. Instead, we have a great Misfits song named after a (surprise?) horror movie. Yes, they made the Devil's Lock famous, but it was great songs like this that truly solidified them as the pioneers of horror-punk.

4. "Hell" by Street Light Manifesto (Squirrel Nut Zippers
cover): Why is the cover in my list and not the original version of the song, you ask? Quite simply, because it's my list and I happen to like it better. With that said, I think the trumpets add a nice flair to this version and that, along with a slightly faster pace, puts it over the top for me.

3. 'Thriller" by Michael Jackson
: Did anyone really not think that this song would be somewhere in the list? Not only is it one of the highlights in the best album of all-time, it also took the music videos to a new level. A short movie complete with Vincent Price and a movie within a movie. Who would have known that 20 years later Michael Jackson the zombie would look better than Michael Jackson the man.

2. "A Little Piece of Heaven" by Avenged Sevenfold
: This song is perhaps the best example of an original story in the list. It takes the premise of a man who engages in homicide, engages in necrophilia and cannibalism, and is then subjected to these same things by the spirit of the woman he has killed. Only Ax7 could take this twisted tale and manage to make it catchy.

1. "Halloween" by AFI (Misfits cover)
: I know a lot of you are going to take issue with the fact that I chose a cover over the Misfits original song. Many bands have covered this song (Alkaline Trio among them), but the reason why I chose AFI's version is that AFI brought speed and intensity to an already great song. Danzig's imagery is brought to life by Davey Havok's voice, which carries this song and runs with it, only to later be completely juxtaposed by a slow piano outro. If you can only listen to one Halloween song, make it this one.

...and there you have it, my 13 picks for best Halloween songs. Hope you give a few of 'em a try!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Do It Together

Last night I attended the Do It Together Fest 2010 at The Vineyard in downtown Kent. Originally my friend Eddie had sent me an invite to it via the 'book about a month ago, but I hadn't really thought too much about it until a week ago. I went back and forth about whether or not I should actually attend the event, but (luckily) I finally decided to go. I was not disappointed.

To give you a little background into the DIT Fest, it all started 4 years ago when Matt Scheurmann (American War, The Sidekicks, No Target Audience) and RIchard Wehrenberg (No Target Audience) decided to find a venue and put on a music fest where all of their DIY (Do It Yourself)friends could stop doing things by themselves and could instead DIT (Do it Together). While trying to find a venue, Matt and Ricky came across The Vineyard, a church that agreed to host the event provided that the event helped charity. As a result, the
agreed upon cover charge was a mandatory food donation. These food donations then go to impoverished families from the area, while all the optional cash donations go to the non-local bands. Traditionally he DIT Fest starts on a Thursday and goes until Saturday night, which is when the headlining bands play.

Having had to work Thursday and Friday, and having had to finish homework for my macroeconomics class, i finally showed up at the Vineyard around 9:00 PMish. The first thing that struck me upon entering the place was the set up: A small main stage surrounded by vendors selling arts/crafts and merchandise. reminiscent of the music fests we used to organize and hold at the VFW back when I was in high school. The second thing that caught my attention was the high number of hipsters wearing flannel shirts, skinny jeans, Chuck Taylors, and Sambas inside the room. They had to be well over the legal limit. You had the occasional frat rat who had sneaked in there, one of whom was wearing obnoxious boots and far too much leather. The first band I witnessed was far from spectacular, and as a result Eddie and I headed to Euro Gyro for a beer or two. After being attended by a bitchy bartender who was either PMSing or on vacation from running hell, we headed back to the Vineyard.
As is usual with these kind of shows, they were running an hour and a half late.There was a poetry reading so we stepped outside and chatted with the members of Annabel. My choice of a cardigan and fake Chucks clearly had deceived people into thinking I was a hipster.

Upon hearing a sound check, we all headed back in to watch as Tigers Jaw took the stage. The hipsters were now wearing tanktops. The band played about 6-7 songs, with the two standouts songs being "Spirit Desire" and "B & C". The Sidekicks jumped on stage soon after Tigers Jaw and I got to witness more than enough hipsters convulsing and moshing to last me for a life time. There was also a long haired kid in front of me who was going nuts and was borderline annoying. I left after their amazing performance and returned about an hour later to witness the same annoying kid kill it on stage. Unfortunately, I had to leave shortly after this due to other reasons which I won't bother you with, so I missed Annabel and Delay's performances.

Overall, I had a great time at the DIT Fest, especially because it truly captured what the alt/punk scene is about: good music and good times. The venue may not have been ideal and the sound wasn't always perfect, but you could truly feel the energy in the air, and none of the performers neglected the audience(at least those who didn't get shitfaced right before the show), something that is a requirement for any good concert. A lot of great bands played last night and I expect great things from quite a few of them. This has truly given me the encouragement I needed to start going to more local shows in the near future, so keep an eye out for me at the next show you attend. I will be the dude not wearing skinny jeans.

(This is my first official venture into the blogosphere, so please bear with any tiny nuisances and faux pas I may have committed.)