Soundbites: Smashing Pumpkins, Bite Torrent, Sweet Sorrow
Well, folks, the big day is almost here. Can you feel the change on the wind? Can you taste the excitement? I can. And you know what? It tastes like freedom — which bears an odd resemblance to chicken, actually.
Of course, the “big day” I am referring to is that most sacred of free world institutions, Halloween. What, you thought I meant the election? Well, that could be pretty frightening, too, I suppose. (Free Halloween Costume Idea #1: The Bradley Effect . . . terrifying.)
This year, All Hallows’ Eve falls on a Friday, which pretty much creates a perfect storm of parties, candy and sexy nurses/schoolgirls/nuns. (Free Halloween Costume Idea #2: sexy music editor.) We have a lot on the docket this weekend, so without further ado: Seven Days’ Guide to the Seven Best Music-related Halloween Shindigs of 2008.
Horse Feathers are, simply put, the best thing to come out of Portland, Oregon, since The Shins. And, no, I’m not kidding. This show marks their third trip to the Green Mountains and their fourth Vermont show in the last 18 months. I’ve managed to catch two of the first three and have been blown away both times. In particular, the group’s debut Vermont performance in the cozy confines of The Skinny Pancake was stunning. Their brooding brand of chamber folk is intoxicating in an intimate setting such as the Firehouse Gallery. And it’s a Tick Tick  show, so I’m guessing costumes are A-OK.
Next up, we have a split bill between a pair of devilish Burlington outfits, The Vacant Lots  and Nose Bleed Island . The latter always seem to perform in some sort of costumes, so what they’ll pull off on Halloween is anyone’s guess. (Idea #3: NBI lead singer Joey Pizza Slice.)
Closing out the evening are punky alt-country hellions Pariah Beat  with a new album in tow. The band is also rockin’ the night before, Devil’s Night, at the Bean’s kissin’ cousin, Langdon Street Café in Montpelier.
Here’s the gist: Eight local acts dress as and cover their favorite bands. Among the expected doppelgängers are Take Warning, playing the role of — surprise! — Operation Ivy, Husbands AKA  doing their best Bouncing Souls impersonation and metal stalwarts Amadis  as — are you sitting down? — Judas Priest. Local rockers Maneuvers  also reportedly have something pretty special on tap. But they ain’t telling and neither am I.
In non-Halloween related news, the venerable Bluegrass Gospel Project  is back in action this week with a benefit show for Volunteer Vermont this Saturday at the First Congregational Church in Burlington. In addition to new vocalist Colby Crehan of PossumHaw  renown, the group will be rolling out factory-fresh bassist Kirk Lord, who joined the group earlier this year. The monies raised will help send Vermont high school students to South Carolina to help with church rebuilding projects and other civic-minded good deeds.
That same evening, indie-pop fans will descend upon Winooski en masse for an evening with Brooklyn’s soon-to-be-huge punk-poppers The Besties  and Athens garage-pop outfit Cars Can Be Blue  at The Monkey House. The Smittens ’ David Zacharias had this to say about the latter: “The shows are almost more raunchy sketch comedy than an indie-pop band. Think Dressy Bessy with Sarah Silverman singing.” Awesome. Speaking of The Smittens, they’re on the bill too, as is James Kochalka , who will be playing a killer solo Game Boy set. No, really.
Meanwhile, at Burlington’s North End Studio, a trio of fresh-faced college bands will introduce themselves to the city at large with a show entitled “Revolution Rock.” Indie-rock outfit Buzz Jar  — featuring former members of late alt-country group The Marigolds — blues-rockers The Feverbreakers  and avant-noise savant Mr. Shopping  are all slated to appear. Also on the bill is a presentation from Burlington’s oWL PaRTY, just in time for the election.
On a sad note, this week Seven Days says goodbye to one of its best, office manager extraordinaire and my partner in music bloggery, Bridget Burns, who is leaving us for Burlington-by-the-sea, Portland, Maine — a.k.a. the other Portland. On behalf of myself, the denizens of Solid State and, of course, Seven Days, we’re gonna miss you, kid. Wyld Stallions rule!