As much as the legions of tiny trick-or-treaters who’ll fill the city streets this weekend, Chicago’s always-vibrant underground rock scene love Halloween.
Dressing up and reveling in the horror of the season would seem to be a state of mind unrelated to age, and it’s ideally suited to rock ‘n’ roll, as hundreds of musicians will once again prove with a bounty of Halloween shows across the city.
My annual roundup of the best of them follows the jump.
Roky Erickson (above).
The Bottom Lounge, 1375 W Lake St.
The Bottom has scored a coup with one of the biggest-name bookings this holiday: pioneering psychedelic rocker Roky Erickson, a founding member of the 13th Floor Elevators and once again a healthy and inspiring solo artist returned from years of exile battling schizophrenia. An argument can be made that for Erickson, every night is Halloween–this, after all, is the unforgettable voice that gave us classic garage-rock anthems such as “I Walked with a Zombie,” “Two Headed Dog,” “I Think of Demons,” “Don’t Shake Me Lucifer” and others of that undead ilk.
Chicago’s Land of Lincoln and The Great Society Mind Destroyers open starting at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, and tickets are $20 via www.ticketweb.com; for more info, visit www.bottomlounge.com or call (312) 929-2022.
Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee
Standing tall as a beacon of grunge at the epicenter of Wicker Park, Double Door continues its Halloween tradition of local bands dressing up as and musically mimicking some of their heroes, though this year, we’re only getting one evening of the festivities, starting at 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30. Black Angus will perform as Black Sabbath, Midnight Shows as Huey Lewis and the News, Catfish Haven as Nirvana, Viceroy as Cheap Trick, Blackbox as Snoop Dogg and Hobo and the Boxcar as the White Stripes. The cover is $12; Call (773) 489-3160 or visit www.doubledoor.com.
Though it’s not officially a Halloween show, Double Door’s offering on the holiday itself still is plenty scary in the very best way as stoner-rock giants Fu Manchu headline a bill that also includes ASG, It’s Casual and DJ Timebomb. Those tickets are $15, and the show starts at 9 p.m. Saturday.
Metro, 3730 N. Clark
Taking a cue from its smaller sister club Double Door, Metro also is offering a bands-as-other-bands Halloween bonanza starting at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31. Love Me Electric will become Blink 182, Color Radio will be Radiohead, and Plunket will be Limp Bizkit (and may the Lord have mercy on their souls!). Tickets are $11; call (773) 549-4140 or visit www.metrochicago.com.
DJ Scary Lady Sara
Later Saturday night, local goth promoters extraordinaire American Gothic Productions will host their Annual All Hallow’s Eve Ball featuring queen of the night DJ Scary Lady Sarah, the Read My Hips Bellydance Troupe and more starting at 11:30 p.m. Admission is $16 with a costume, $19 without. Meanwhile, in the basement, Smart Bar offers Collette, Jay J and Freddy Montanez spinning and a costume contest with cash prizes; admission there is $10 before midnight, $15 after.
The Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace
Also embracing the musical masquerade theme is the Abbey, which kicks things off at 8:45 Friday, Oct. 30, with Penthouse Sweets as the Sex Pistols, Pleezer as Weezer, Broken China as the Bangles, scene mainstay Phil Angotti as Squeeze, Chris Dorf and friends as R.E.M. and Benge & Short as Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door; call (773) 478-4408 or visit www.abbeypub.com.
The fun continues on Saturday starting at 8:45 p.m. with the same ticket prices and the Shaking Hand as AC/DC, Tomorrow the Moon as Psychedelic Furs, Androgynous Mustache as the J. Geils Band, the Delafields as the B-52s, the Webstirs as Fleetwood Mac and Tiny Speakers as the Everly Brothers.
The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia
Fresh off its D.I.Y. production of “Little Shop of Horrors,” the Hideout hosts two Halloween weekend celebrations, starting at 10 p.m. Friday with the “Enchantment Under the Ground Prom featuring Johnny and the Limelites, “neurotic vampire comedian” “Gory” Morey Lestat, and Rutherford B. Bloodbath and His Halloween Band, with songs spun in between by DJs Sam and Melissa of Laurie’s Planet of Sound. Admission is $8; more info at (773) 227-4433 or www.hideoutchicago.com.
Saturday, the club promises a “Night of Mayhem” at the second annual “Monster Mash Bash” starting at 9:30 and featuring hell-bent hard-rockers Arriver, Rabid Rabbit and Den of Vipers. The cover is $8, and that show will be followed by a Halloween dance party with DJ Velcro Lewis spinning starting at 11:30 p.m. (Cover charge $5.)
Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln
Only open a few weeks but already coming on strong as one of Chicago’s best venues, the Schuba family’s new endeavor Lincoln Hall presents incorrigible locals Detholz! playing their 10th annual Jukebox of the Dead show starting at 9 p.m. Saturday. Rounding out the bill: Bobby Conn and Loto Ball Show. Tickets are $10; more info at (773) 525-2501 or www.lincolnhallchicago.com.
What is the “Jukebox of the Dead,” you ask? Detholz! describes it as a “slate of deconstructed, ‘maxio-facialized’ pop covers–songs one might hear over a tinny speaker at the dentist’s office, completely amputated, resewn and rearranged–and a dark rumination on the lives and unlives of American celebrities,” though even that wordy precise doesn’t really do it justice.
Reggie’s Rock Club, 2109 S. State
Down on the South Side, the city’s most underrated rock joint will once again celebrate in high style on Halloween proper with “Cinegasm 2009” featuring “bands, burlesque, videos, drinking and costumes” with a bill that includes the Lifeline, self-professed “Wizard rock band” Diagon Alley and alternative metal mavens Seven Day Sonnet. Tickets are $12 through Ticketweb.com; call (312) 949-0121 or visit www.reggieslive.com.
The Heartland Caf, located at 7000 N. Glenwood
Finally, up north in Rogers Park, we have a unique evening headlined by funk-jam band Harlan Flo inspired by the cult favorite “The Big Lebowski” and featuring songs as well as costumes from the film. The show starts at 9 p.m. Saturday with openers Dolly Moses, and there is no cover charge; visit www.heartlandcafe.com or call (773) 465-8005.
Other shows of note this weekend
One of several benefits scheduled to help the members of Chicago’s Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, recently injured in a van crash while on tour, Subterranean, 2011 W. North Ave., is hosting a Halloween show to aid the group with local bands BBU, New Duncan Imperials, Canasta and Kevin Flynn and the Avondale Ramblers starting at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, 10/31. Tickets are $10 via www.ticketweb.com; call (773) 278-6600 or visit www.subt.net for more information.
Eschewing the Halloween festivities this year, local promoters the Empty Bottle Presents nonetheless have a strong offering this weekend with electronic/avant-classical sonic maestro Dan Deacon performing at the Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie. The sublimely named Nuclear Power Pants open at 10 p.m. Saturday, and tickets are $10 via www.ticketweb.com.