By Zachary Corsa
Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year for many red-blooded Americans, but, for the rest of us, it’s Halloween that has us shivering in otherworldly joy. As the weather cools and the leaves tumble down, as skies go gray and the rich smell of burning fields begins to curl through our streets, we know that everything spectral and witchy will soon be upon us. So while you’re throwing together your creepiest costume and stocking up on candy corn, consider hitting up one of several fine musical events gracing Memphis venues around the spookiest day of the year.
ZARR Halloween w/ Jack Oblivion, Static Static, Off Peak Arson
10 p.m., Saturday October 30, B-SIDE Memphis
$10 at the door
It’s time for the annual ZARR Halloween celebration, and this year’s festivities offer up a bumper crop of frenetic sonic fury. Headliner Jack Oblivian is a local garage-punk legend who shows no signs of hitting the brakes on his careening musical momentum anytime soon, and his slyly anthemic hooks and ramshackle splendor are truly wondrous to behold in person. Joining this stacked bill are fellow Memphians Off Peak Arson and touring NOLA post-punkers Static Static. With their shout-along vocals and kinetic unpredictability, the thrilling Off Peak Arson calls to mind a scuzzier, sleazier White Lung (this is definitely a compliment). And somewhat of an outlier (but no less welcome for it), Static Static bring snarling, noise-damaged synth pop to the table. Come on over to B-SIDE, and don’t forget your costume for the contest, as well!
School Of Rock Halloween
2 p.m., Saturday October 30, Lafayette’s Music Room
If you fancy an afternoon outing of the musical persuasion Saturday, you might want to look into Lafayette’s, where The Memphis School Of Rock is hosting what’s sure to be a stellar Samhain shindig. With the School’s hard-working house house band performing, you’ll surely be be captivated by the heights of youthful skill on display. Their exceedingly-talented instructors will also perform, and yes, there’s a costume policy in effect with said costumes ‘strongly encouraged’. Why not dress up a little and be outrageous for your Halloween midday? After all, the event page claims there’ll be prizes and SoR swag for the winners. Watching brilliant young players grow into their craft in real-time is blessing enough, but the early start and finish time leave more than
space for ensuing one’s grown-up evening plans. These performances will stay with you for days.
Tommy Wright III, Gangsta Boo, Lukah, Lavendear, Terminal Nation
9 p.m., Saturday October 30, Black Lodge
Call it Mischief Night, Devil’s Night, or (as I heard growing up in New England) Cabbage Night, the fact remains that October 30th is all about decadent trickery and dark, secretive pleasures. Presented by Bad Timing, Black Lodge celebrates Devil’s Night 2021 with an all-star trio that features two Memphis hip-hop/horrorcore pioneers, and preceded earlier in the evening by the ragged-glory, post-hardcore speed run of Lavendear and the soul-erasing death metal/hardcore juggernaut of Little Rock’s Terminal Nation. When else would underground Memphis rap monoliths like our headliners materialize than on All Hallows Eve? Tommy Wright III is a towering influence and a walking history of underground Memphis hip-hop, while Gangsta Boo stomped down barriers as the first female member of Three 6 Mafia. Skilled South African upstart Lurah is on-hand to represent where hip-hop might go next, while also symbolically nodding to where its been. All these atmospheric, eerie beats and this vivid, intricate wordplay are ideal chasers to a night that sets sail with the unholy terror and rage of Terminal Nation, with Lavendear providing game an essential mid-bill come down before the rampaging main event.. Don’t miss this one.
Mudhole, Burn The Witch, Cult Of The Flag, Defy
7 p.m., Saturday October 30, Growler’s
Every Halloween show season needs a metal show, right? That’s just good horse sense. And thankfully, there’s one metal show to rule them all this Saturday at Growler’s, kicking the holiday off nicely with the southern-fried Memphis groove metal of Mudhole. Fellow Memphians Cult Of The Flag offer their own requisite, brutal boneshaking, and possibly some larynx shredding, while the third Memphis band on the bill, Defy, fold in haunting, spectral sound pieces and field recordings to collage a genuine unease coursing beneath their doomy thunderheads, all tension and dread-soaked tumult. Last but definitely not least, Burn The Witch (from, you guessed it, Memphis) aim mightily for sludge-metal gold, all feral catharsis and riff-oozing guitars. Four awesome local bands for just ten bucks? Yes, please. And once again, there’s a costume party being held for this gathering as well, so do prepare accordingly!