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A RATHER FUN NIGHTMARE

When I was young, we children ruled Halloween. We'd dress up as Gene Simmons, get as much candy as we could lug around from neighbors we didn't otherwise engage with, and feast on our bounty for what seemed like months.

However, I don't remember my parents ever coming home sloshed dressed as sexy pirates.

In recent years, Halloween has become more of a holiday for grown-ups, and for those 21 and older, the place to be is Hotel Congress' traditional Nightmare on Congress St.

This year's event, billed as Devil's Night, will feature all the accoutrements you've come to expect: costume contests with prizes, a thoroughly decorated hotel and seven local bands playing on two stages. This year's lineup: On the outdoor stage, it's Mostly Bears, The Swim, Dead Western Plains and Shaun Harris backed by Flagrante Delicto. On the indoor Club Congress stage, you've got the Zsa Zsas, the Mission Creeps and B 4 Skin. It should go without saying that you are highly encouraged to dress up.

Doors open at 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 30. Hotel Congress is located at 311 E. Congress St. Admission is $8 in advance or $10 at the door—or $8 at the door if you're in costume. Cup Café VIP tickets and hotel packages are also available. Call 622-8848 for more information.

The revelry at Congress continues the following night, Saturday, Oct. 31—Halloween proper—with a pair of events. Cirque du Sin will present Tricks and Treats, a live Halloween-themed cabaret act, starting at 9 p.m. Admission is $8 for general admission or $12 for seats, with a $2 discount for those in costume.

After that, Congress' traditional dance night, Bang! Bang!, takes over the club with a special Halloween dance party that will include live music from 21 Pump Street and Zackey Force Funk, plus a slew of guest DJs: Portland, Oregon's ComputerFAM, Sugarman, Disco Bomb, Eric Meyer and, of course, Bang! Bang! resident DJ Matt McCoy. Again, there will be costume contests with prizes awarded, and it's only $5 to get in. The number to call with questions is still 622-8848.


ASIAN INVASION

It's not every day that a band from Japan plays in Tucson. So what are the odds that one club would book two of the best-known Japanese bands on two consecutive nights? Apparently, better than you might think, because that's exactly what Plush has done this week.

On Tuesday, Nov. 3, Melt-Banana, which plays a furiously fast brand of noise-punk complete with screechy vocals and shredding guitar licks, headlines a show that also includes locals Mascaron and Flagrante Delicto. The show starts at 9 p.m., and $12 gets you in the doors.

Then, on Wednesday, Nov. 4, Shonen Knife returns to the Plush stage. The female trio started in Osaka way back in 1981, but American audiences wouldn't catch on until a decade or so later, when the group was championed by, and brought on tour with, Nirvana and Sonic Youth. Singing infectious pop-punk songs about goofy subjects (food, animals and sci-fi plots are particular obsessions) in Japanese or adorably broken English, Shonen Knife proved irresistible for those with a penchant for cuteness—and guitar-driven pop hooks.

The band's latest album is Super Group, and Shonen Knife will perform songs from it as well as past favorites. The Pork Torta and Jumper get things rolling at 9 p.m. Cover is $12, and Plush is located at 340 E. Sixth St. Call 798-1298 for more info.


SOLAR CULTURE KEEPS KICKING ASS

Solar Culture Gallery continues its recent run of excellent shows this week.

Fresh from appearing at New York's CMJ Music Conference, Brooklyn's Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson will perform on Sunday, Nov. 1. Robinson plays a brand of atmospheric psychedelic pop with an emphasis on lyrics—a typical song begins minimally and swells to a crescendo—and he's got friends in high places who are willing to help him out. His 2008 debut album was produced by Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor, and his new one, Summer of Fear (Saddle Creek, 2009), was produced by TV on the Radio's Kyp Malone.

Opening the show is the up-and-coming (and already critically lauded) Los Angeles-based female trio Warpaint, whose hazy dream-pop splits the difference between Cat Power and the 4AD sound.

This all-ages show begins at 9 p.m., and admission is $7.

By all accounts, the DePedro show featuring members of Calexico, and opened by Brian Lopez, at Solar Culture a couple weeks ago was insanely awesome. So it's hard not to have similar expectations for a similar show going down there this week.

Like Jairo Zavala (aka DePedro), Amparo Sanchez hails from Spain (Barcelona, to be exact), recorded part of her latest album (Tucson-Habana) right here in the Old Pueblo, and has in the past collaborated with Calexico, members of which will be backing her at Solar Culture. In an e-mail, Calexican Joey Burns reports that Sanchez is "influenced by Billie Holiday, friends with Manu Chao (she wrote the line 'welcome to Tijuana / tequila, sex y marijuana'), and has been awarded ... (by) the BBC Awards for World Music."

Sanchez will perform an all-ages show at Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave., next Thursday, Nov. 5. Again, Brian Lopez and Friends, whose recent sets have been absolutely spellbinding, open at 9 p.m. Admission is $10. For more information, call 884-0874.


BEST WESTERN

On Sunday, Nov. 1, the Live Acoustic Venue Association (LAVA) will present the Tucson Western Music Festival, a celebration of contemporary Western songwriters, from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Wedding Park at Pantano Stables, 4450 S. Houghton Road.

Here's the schedule, in order of appearance: Katy Creek Band (11 a.m.), Dennis Jay (noon), Patty Clayton (1 p.m.), Kerry Grombacher (2 p.m.), Call of the West (3 p.m.) and the Desert Sons (4 p.m.). Jon Messenger, president of the Western Music Association's board of directors, will both host the event and perform between scheduled acts.

Tickets for the Tucson Western Music Festival are available in advance at all Bookmans locations for $15, or $10 for students, seniors and members of the military. Admission at the gate will be $20. Children 12 and younger get in free with an adult-ticket purchase. For complete information about all the performers and more, head to lavamusic.org.


ON THE BANDWAGON

Once again, we've run out of space without even scratching the surface. Here's more good stuff to watch out for: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Family of the Year at Club Congress on Wednesday, Nov. 4; The Bravery, Living Things and The Dustys at the Rialto Theatre on Tuesday, Nov. 3; Finn Riggins at The Hut on Friday, Oct. 30; the Steal Strings and Breakbeats Tour featuring Broadcast Live and Evan Greer at Dry River on Monday, Nov. 2; The Soul of John Black and the Michael P. Big Band at Plush on Friday, Oct. 30; Still Flyin', Fatigo and Yellow Fever at Club Congress on Tuesday, Nov. 3; Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (all original members) at the Rialto on Friday, Oct. 30; Dave Manning at Nimbus Brewing Company tonight, Thursday, Oct. 29; the Pork Torta and All Leather on the patio at Hotel Congress next Thursday, Nov. 5; Kate Voegele at Club Congress on Sunday, Nov. 1; the Glamour Kills Tour featuring All Time Low at the Rialto on Wednesday, Nov. 4; Mark Matos and Os Beaches at the Red Room at Grill on Friday, Oct. 30.

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