A look back at Halloween parties

// JJ Brewis

The Electric Owl – Friday, October 28

With venues across town, newcomer The Electric Owl proved they were ready to take on Halloween in style. On Oct. 28, they kicked off the weekend with a trio of artists, Teen Daze, Beat Connection, and Too High Crew, all delivering a killer time. Electric Owl's dance floor was filled with grooving Black Swans, cowboys, and banana costumes ,and with cobwebs strung through the bathroom stalls, and even the bartenders donning Halloween garb for the evening, all those in attendance all seemed to be enjoying themselves.

The night opened with a bang, as Vancouver’s Teen Daze (one-man, first-name only Jamison) stepped on stage with a cozy looking pom-pom toque and knit cardigan. Fresh off his showcase at New York’s CMJ festival, he returned to the West coast to show his hometown why he has become so revered in the indie electronic circuit. Jamison’s act has seen a surge in praise, with Pitchfork claiming, “Unlike a lot of bedroom blurmongers, Teen Daze seems in total control.” Now one of Vancouver’s premiere electronic gurus, he seems comfortable head-bopping to his own music in front of a costumed audience; he could easily be mistaken for tinkering away in his bedroom. Yet the songs stand alone, and Teen Daze remains altogether endearing with his bookish glasses and charming stage banter, apologizing to the well made-up crowd for not having a costume. His non-stop set paid more care to ambient sounds, giving a soft edge to the evening’s indulgences.

The next group, Too High Crew, contrasted Teen Daze by appealing to the polar end of the spectrum with a show that was all about energy. The stage was filled to the edge with costumed folk awkwardly fumbling about, while the Vancouver rap ensemble took to the front. It was often uncertain who was part of the group and who was just there to party. With group members outfitted from cultural touchstones ranging from Cheech, to Twin Peaks’ Log Lady, to the Hamburglar, the campy cornucopia was surely a spectacle to behold. Rapping over top popular R&B and hip-hop beats from today’s top 40, Too High Crew banked on well-known riffs; for example, Rihanna’s “What’s My Name” became a stoner anthem. In fact, all of their songs seemed to be of the same nature, somehow not surprising given the group’s moniker. On the set closer, “Pre- Rolls, Pre-Rolled”, the group rapped in the place of Lil Wayne, repeating the phrase “We blazing, so hazing, this fucking shit’s amazing.”

With long tube fluorescent lights illuminating their setup, Seattle’s Beat Connection capped off the evening with a set of chillwave electronic. Dressed in matching varsity jackets and thick gold chains like ‘chavs’, a specific look of London street “douchebags”, the group appeared ready to out-Halloween the crowd itself. But only two songs in, the guys had stripped off their heavy layers, right down to costume-appropriate wife beaters and their own homemade Beat Connection shirts. Adding to the heights of their infectious sample and synth heavy tunes, the trio barely engaged with the crowd, aside from thanking the audience periodically, which provoked enthusiastic cheers. The dance floor that grooved to Teen Daze and was perplexed by what to do during Too High Crew seemed to settle into their bear suits and mermaid wigs during Beat Connection, as the entirety of Electric Owl’s pit seemed to become a roving mound of bodies crashing into each other, as Beat Connection closed the night with the group’s biggest hit “In The Water”.

Woolworm /Ganglians/Still Corners
Media Club – Monday, October 31st

On Halloween night, another trio of artists hit the stage, this time at the intimate Media Club. The space was decorated with on-stage pumpkins and a dish of free chocolate bars at the merch table. The crowd was underwhelming in size, but quite receptive, even with local openers Woolworm, who joined in on the Halloween festivities. As deer-costumed guitarist Alex Pomeroy started telling the crowd a story about how Halloween was an awkward day to move apartments, frontman Giles Roy cut him off, saying "Hey! Any of you ever been this close to a deer before?" and as the small crowd chuckled he said to his bandmate, "I told you it'd get laughs." The conversation in between sets came off as personable, giving their less-accessible, but nonetheless catchy, set some warmth.

Adding a completely different vibe to the evening, Sacramento surf-punk quarter Ganglians took to the stage in a hurry, with lead vocalist Ryan Grubbs shouting out "This is a sad, sad song for all the sad, sad people," which lead into "Drop The Act", the first track from the band's new album Still Life. The set was all over the place, but remained somewhat enjoyable to watch, even if just out of curiosity where they would go next. At one moment, the band appeared to be steeped heavily in Wavves-style stoner lo-fi, and the next channelling the Ramones, with Grubbs’ eyes rolling into the back of his head while the instrumentalists bounced about, sneering. Despite an overly aggressive snare drum and an overeager set that was unbearably hard to pin down, the group showed potential. The one thread that ran through the entire set was a heavy use of echo effects and reverb, giving the set a surf motif. The group may do well to focus on their strengths: prime harmonies and the bluesy Black Keys-styled tracks such as the slowed-down set closer, with Grubbs repeating, "I don't mind, take your time".

To cap off the evening, London dream-pop quartet Still Corners took to the stage in classic Halloween costumes. Vocalist Tessa Murray was a witch, backed by a motley band including a vampire, a mummy, and a skeleton. Their actual set tended to be on the dreary side; their material from the recent LP Creatures of an Hour all sounded very similar. When Murray really shone was when the band went into perkier, folk territory, slightly transcending the performance. But mainly it was ambient, melancholy tones, with Murray cooing over the atmospheric measures like the lost sister of Lykke Li or Kate Bush.

As the set finished, the crowd seemed to pour out in a quiet, haunting manner, apparently uncharmed. A spooky end to an undoubtedly eerie evening, with Ganglians’ Grubbs asking audience members if they could open their doors to the band for the night.
Happy belated Halloween!

// JJ Brewis, Art Director
// Photo by Shannon Elliott

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