Capital Sounds

Duroc, the local ’80s tribute act, will be on hand to celebrate Halloween at Sweet Melissa’s in Montpelier.

The night when the veil is thinnest is not until this coming Wednesday, but since this is my last chance to say it: Happy Halloween!

Over the past few decades, Oct. 31 has replaced New Year’s Eve as our country’s number-one adult party holiday. Many venues will throw down celebrations this weekend, but for the purist, nothing short of celebrating on the actual holiday will suffice. To that end, I’ll start out highlighting events that will take place on Halloween itself before moving on to this weekend’s activities, spooky and otherwise.

Perusing the options in the area, it appears that Montpelier is ground zero for Halloween night celebrations of the live music variety. Sweet Melissa’s on the corner of Elm and Langdon in the capital has established itself as a place that knows how to throw a party, and no doubt Halloween is a house favorite. It’ll be hosting another house favorite to provide the soundtrack when Duroc takes the black box stage Wednesday night. The local ‘80s tribute act has become one of the more popular draws around, and people just can’t seem to get enough of their renditions of Reagan-era material. The decade also leaves one with a multitude of costume options to fit the theme. This one is virtually guaranteed to be well-attended starting at 9 p.m. Expect a nominal cover at the door.

Another Capital City venue that always celebrates Halloween night is Charlie O’s, and this year is no exception. It’ll present an interesting marriage of surf rock and hip-hop featuring a few house favorites of its own. The Tsunamibots, who play surf-rock couched in their robots-are-taking-over-the-world motif, and are a no-brainer for the holiday (unless you count A.I. as a brain). They’ll be joined by Sed One of Boomslang and Jarv of Maiden Voyage who’ll deliver dope beats and staccato, rapid-fire rhyme spittin’ that is likely to wake the dead. Once again, expect good attendance even though it is the middle of the week; Montpelier loves Halloween. The ghoulish fun starts at 9 p.m.

Though the night itself is not until Wednesday, many of our local venues are throwing down their spooky celebrations this weekend. Positive Pie II on State Street will host its big Halloween event Friday night when it presents MadMan and Me alongside The Human Canvas. The theme of the night is “Down the Rabbit Hole,” so folks are encouraged to dress for an Alice in Wonderland theme to dance to MM & Me’s trance-inducing electronica and soulful vocal work. The Human Canvas is live body-painting to a musical soundtrack provided by MM& Me, and you can expect Wonderland-themed body art in keeping with the evening’s festivities. A great way to kick off a Halloween weekend starting at 10 p.m.

Both Sweet Melissa’s and Charlie O’s just can’t get themselves enough Halloween, and to that end will be hosting events all weekend long. Sweets kicks things off Friday night with a Halloween party featuring house-bred act Guano Loco that throws down a rockin’ party with the best of ‘em.

On Saturday night, The Vincent Flats Blues Band brings its Halloween event to Mel’s. This one should appeal to the older crowd that perhaps is looking for a tamer kind of party. Both nights festivities begin at 9 p.m. As a bonus, live-band karaoke will happen as usual on Sunday night, and it’s bound to bring in a variety of Halloween-themed revelers starting at 8:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, over at Charlie O’s on Main Street, though the schedule does not specify Halloween-themed events this weekend, the programming certainly suggests it. On Friday night, the ambiguously named People Like You bring their dark, edgy folk sound to the back of the barroom. “The group sounds like the house band at a haunted carnival” (Jordan Adams, Seven Days). ‘nuff said?

On Saturday night, “glam-trash witchcore” act The Jessica Rabbit Syndrome is joined by Yestrogen for a femme fatale-led evening of fun in the land beyond the pool tables. Both nights start at 9 p.m. and expect many a costumed reveler to make an appearance throughout the evening.

There are also some notable non-Halloween events this weekend, especially at the Barre Opera House. Tonight the BOH presents Black Violin, a lauded duo that performs a fusion of their classically trained compositional material and hip-hop that is often described as “classical boom.” With a drummer and a DJ augmenting the classical duo sound, this group is unique and defies more stereotypes than can be listed here. What this duo is doing is ground-breaking and awesome on so many levels that I have to give it my highest recommendation.

And speaking of highly recommended, the BOH keeps the excellent programming rolling on Saturday night when it presents Session Americana. The wildly entertaining act out of Boston plays vintage instruments, with members switching off on both those and vocal duties around a kitchen table-like setting with one microphone. The Session offers up one of the rowdiest experiences you can have at a sit-down show; you’ll be stomping your feet and clapping your hands at the least. Coupled with the BOH’s excellent acoustics, this one should be a real treat. Tickets for both events are available at If you are looking to avoid the Halloween hoopla and simply want to see exemplary live music, the BOH is the place to be this weekend.

That wraps up this week. Be safe when having your spooky fun, and to all my neo-pagan friends out there, Happy Samhain, and go see live music.

Ed DuFresne has produced concerts and events (which he prefers to call shows) in and around central and northeastern Vermont since the late ‘90s. He is grateful to live in Montpelier with an exemplary renaissance man as a house mate.

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