Soundbites 

IN THE PROXIMITY OF ALL HALLOWS' EVE

There's no shortage of Halloween-themed things to do this week; the only hitch is that most of them aren't actually on Halloween. It seems that Saturday, Oct. 29 has been appointed Halloween's proxy this year, which makes sense, since the day o' scares falls on a Monday, and nobody likes to stumble into work with a candy/booze hangover and a makeup-streaked face. Here, then, are a few musical options for faux Hallow's Eve. And, yes, dressing in a silly costume is encouraged at all of these events.

In years past, Club Congress has teamed up with the Rialto Theatre to bring you Nightmare on Congress Street, the annual event which somehow predates Halloween itself. But this year, Congress is like a sister--doin' it for themselves, that is. The club promises a dozen bands on two stages, including locals Chango Malo, Golden Boots, Hipster Daddy-O, Thee Okmoniks, Camp Courageous, The Jons and Fukuisan Go! Out-of-towners include L.A.'s Abe Lincoln Story and Seattle's Pleaseeasaur, the performing name for J.P. Hasson, some dude who--appropriate for the night--undergoes many costume changes while performing dadaist songs and cultural satires with titles like "Bowl Noodle Hot," "A Cougar Named Darryll," "Warning: These Cobras Are Totally Cool" and "Strangers Have the Best Candy" (again, appropriate), over rinky-dink beats programmed into the cheapest Casio keyboard the company ever designed. In other words, he's a real hoot.

Speaking of hoots, the star attraction of the night is none other than sad sack "comedian" Neil Hamburger. For those not in the know, Hamburger is the alter ego of Amarillo Records owner Gregg Turkington, and his act consists of the following: Hamburger, with greasy hair and gallons of flop sweat, tells jokes--in between his incessant throat-clearing and awkward pauses--so bad that half of them don't even make sense. In other words, he's basically a performance artist pretending to be the world's worst comedian, so unfunny that he's funny. To wit, a "joke" from his latest album, Great Moments at Di Presa's Pizza House (2005, Drag City): "Why did God invent the Paris Hilton sex videotape? Well, so that the mentally retarded would have something to masturbate to."

Nightmare on Congress Street begins at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29 at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Prizes will be awarded for various costume contests. Advance tickets are $7; they'll be a 10-spot on the night of the event. For more information, call 622-8848.

Meanwhile, the Surly Wench Pub hosts a trio of local bands, including all-star punks the Cancer Brides and the metallic Sonic Titan, who will be performing their last show of the year. The real highlight, though, will be the Wasted Aces set. Tucson's self-proclaimed "trashiest rock 'n' rollers" will be performing a full-length tribute to KISS, complete with makeup, costumes and special effects. In a press release sent to Soundbites, Aces drummer Jeff Mann is quoted as saying, "At first, we thought we'd just learn a few KISS songs, slap on some face paint and go for it, but as we got deeper into it, the thing took on a life of its own. We started designing costumes, building props and developing special effects." In the same release, guitarist Mike Bushey adds, "I think people will be blown away when they see the effort we've put into this." The event will also feature a face-painting booth and an iPod giveaway.

It all goes down at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29. The Surly Wench Pub is located at 424 N. Fourth Ave. Cover is a mere $4. For further details, call 882-0009.

And Vaudeville Cabaret is celebrating Halloween a couple nights early, too, with an ear-splitting night of rawk. The party begins at 7 p.m., and the lineup of bands, in descending order, is Great American Tragedy, Honky (who include former Butthole Surfer Jeff Pinkus), Absolute Fucking Saints and Dephinger.

That one's also on Saturday, Oct. 29. Vaudeville Cabaret is located at 110 E. Congress St. Call 622-3535 for more 411.


LOVE, POLITICS AND MOUNTAIN GOATS

San Francisco's John Vanderslice is a man of many hats. He's an excellent producer of many fine albums by other bands, which he records at his famed Tiny Telephone analog recording studios, whose clients include Death Cab for Cutie, Beulah and The Mountain Goats; and since disbanding his former group, MK Ultra, he has released a slew of ambitious solo albums, garnering attention and acclaim from all the right people.

His past albums have often had themes, such as last year's Cellar Door (Barsuk), which was comprised mainly of love letters to some of his favorite films, including Donnie Darko, Requiem for a Dream, and Mulholland Dr. His latest, Pixel Revolt (Barsuk, 2005), was initially conceived as a response to the anger he felt following the 2004 presidential election. But then he got back from a rough year of touring and promptly fell in love. As he writes in a "user's guide" provided to the press, "When we broke up, so did I. Writing about the outside world didn't seem to be relevant anymore. So I wrote about my life." Still, some of those politically minded songs remain, as does his obsession with all things cinematic. There's a certain grandeur to the songs here, which were a musical collaboration between Vanderslice and engineer Scott Solter, while the lyrics were, according to the album's liner notes, "edited, expanded and otherwise improved upon by John Darnielle" of the Mountain Goats. As usual, the production and arrangements are pristine, with synth bleeps, piano, strings, church bells, tape manipulations and cello mixed in among the usual indie-pop configurations. There's a certain sadness in the recipe, too, that's more difficult to quantify, but no less important. Despite the heavy subject matter, and the resulting melancholy, Pixel Revolt is amazingly never a bummer--it's just pretty--and may in fact be Vanderslice's most immediately listenable release to date.

John Vanderslice performs at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St., on Wednesday, Nov. 2. Openers Luca and Locksley get things started at 9 p.m. Cover is $6. For more info, call 622-8848.


ON THE BANDWAGON

Bruce Cockburn is not a medical doctor with a venereal disease named after him. (His last name is actually pronounced KO-burn.) Rather, he is a politically minded, folky singer-songwriter who is in his fourth decade of writing and performing. Hugely popular in his native Canada, where he has won numerous Juno Awards (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys), he's got a devoted cult following here in the States, where he has twice scratched the surface of the mainstream: in 1979, with his hit "Wondering Where the Lions Are," and five years later with "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" and "Lovers in a Dangerous Time." His latest release is Speechless (True North/Rounder, 2005), which compiles previously released instrumental tracks, and tosses a few new ones in for good measure.

Bruce Cockburn performs at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 1. Advance tickets for this all-ages show are available at the theatre box office for $24. They'll be $2 more on the day of show. For further details, call 740-1000.

In case you didn't know there was a Scottish music revival going on, the Battlefield Band is coming to Tucson to make sure you do. The band mixes traditional songs with their own, and plays them on a mix of modern and traditional instruments. According to Billboard magazine, "What the Chieftans has done for traditional Irish music, Battlefield Band is doing for the music of Scotland."

Check 'em out for yourself when the Battlefield Band performs next Thursday, Nov. 3, at the Berger Performing Arts Center, 1200 W. Speedway Blvd. Advance tix are $22, available at Antigone Books, CD City, Enchanted Earthworks, rhythmandroots.org or by calling (800) 594-8499. They'll be $25 at the door. For more details, call 297-9133.

Though Soundbites hasn't actually heard the music of Boston indie-psych trio Apollo Sunshine, we're intrigued by the massive adulation they've been receiving in national press outlets lately, as well as the comparisons made to the Flaming Lips, Cheap Trick and the Elephant 6 collective. They'll be at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., on Saturday, Oct. 29, along with local openers Seven to Blue, who begin playing at 10:45 p.m. Admission is five ducats. Call 798-1298 for more info.

As always, we encourage you to check out our listings section for lots of other fine shows that couldn't fit here.

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