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Weekend music roundup

Local bands will wake the dead for Halloween

It's Halloween week, folks! That magically wicked, sugary celebration of all that is dark, weird and interesting. Not to mention being the time of year when all the neighbor kids will soon be knocking on your door wanting the "good" candy and wearing jackets over their costumes to ward of the sudden desert chill, just like you did years ago, before you got old, bored and jaded.

"Why isn't Halloween fun anymore?," you may lament, as you pick through the discarded Smarties and stale bubblegum left over in your heavily ransacked candy bowl. 

But it still can be, my friends. Never fear.

Once the tiny looters and pillagers have quit our city streets and gone home to crash from their sugar highs, it's time for a treat of your own. A drink or two, perhaps. Some conversation with other fully grown adults. A chance to dress up...and do something. Like go to a grown up Halloween party. Or see some bands. 

This column fully endorses the latter option, just like you knew we would. 

And you're in luck, my friends. Halloween gigs are plentiful this year, both the weekend before the main event on the unholy evening itself. 

As an added bonus, much like some churchgoing folks only attend services on Christmas and Easter, many lapsed Tucson live music fans head out but twice a year — on New Year's Eve and Halloween. This means you may run into to old friends venturing out form their exile in Suburbia to catch bands they used to love, many of whom are coming out of their own semi hibernation for the occasion. 

Since you all have a lot of shopping and pumpkin carving left to do, your friendly neighborhood columnist took on the "real" work of  Halloween for you by checking out some of the bands resurrecting themselves for this week's ghoulish festivities.

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Spacefish Does Springsteen

Not so new, but every bit as good as you'd remembered 'em bands playing this week include Spacefish's legendary Halloween weekend gig at Che's Lounge, where the semi-retired local faves play as a different band every year, Great Cover-Up style.

A few years back, the band recreated Pink Floyd's "The Wall" in its entirety and last year's Talking Heads set was an experience indeed, so this year's Boss-themed show promises to be a blast.

Spacefish Does Springstreen at Che's Lounge this Saturday, Oct 27 at 10 p.m.

The Besmirchers

There is perhaps no image that more embodies Tucson than longtime local ambassador of punk Lenny Mental riding his motorcycle down Fourth Avenue in the middle of the afternoon, leather-jacket clad, sporting spiky bleach blonde hair and the word "Desire" tattooed on his forehead.

Mental is a veteran of many of Tucson's most legendary punk bands, the most recent and possibly the longest lasting being his current band, the Besmirchers. While the band plays much less frequently than they once did, their shows are hardcore punk just like you remember it from back in the day. 

Assuming anybody remembers ANYTHING from back in the day...

TucsonSentinel.com: The Besmirchers are pretty much local legends in the Tucson punk scene, but for those who aren't familiar...well, describe yourselves as best you can.

Lenny Mental (lead Besmircher): "Not for everyone. Just like the name by definition. Besmirchers. Dirty with intent to further defile. We aren’t 'PC' and don’t care. Don’t discriminate, we offend everyone equally."

TS: What's the current band lineup? And what other bands have each of you played in across the years? 

L.M.: "The Besmirchers are Lenny Mental on vocals and abuse, Superstar Penis DeMillo on guitar, Johnny Ruption on bass, and P.B.R. Destroyer on drums. Some of the bands the Besmirchers have been in are U.P.S., the Sophistifucks, Cocknoose, Cretin 66, Opinion Zero, Blink Dogs, Ward Cleaver and the Beavers, Prosthetic Head and the Murderers."

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TS: What's the band's origin story?

L.M.: "P.B.R. Destroyer and Downtown Dave decided to start a band over a meal  at Rosa’s about 13 years ago. P.B.R. Destroyer came up with the name. They asked me to join after watching the Sophistifucks DVD. Damnation was the last to join and we did our first show March 2006."

TS: What's up these days? Any new music? Recordings? Upcoming ventures?

L.M.: "We are currently working on new songs for a split cassette with Gorbza from Columbia, Missouri. Our new full length L.P. 'Hate Your Life' will be out on Slope Records soon."

TS: Favorite all-time stories as a band? 

L.M.: "My Mom thinks I started punk rock."

TS: Favorite local bands old and new?

L.M.: "Too many to mention but a few are Channel 88, Blood Spasm, American Deathtrip, Junkie Vomit, FUCT, Just Us, Al Perry, Texas Trash, Pop Gestapo, Fuck All Night Superstars, Dirty Panty Tourniquet, Bricktop, Thug Riot, Whiskey Bitch, PS9, Backstab Gospel....the list is endless really."

TS: Favorite bands of all time?

L.M.:"The list would be too long but here are a few: the Germs, Anal Cunt, Necro Filth, Eat My Fuk, The Carpenters, KISS, Ramones, Poison Idea, FEAR, Manowar, Deadboys, Dwarves, Mott The Hoople, Nipdrivers, The Spits, Motörhead.

TS: Tell us about the upcoming gig!

L.M.: "Our next show is on Halloween , October 31 at the District Tavern Eatz with Warmonger and The Ohmlauts. Don't miss it; it's going to be a blood bath!"

The Besmirchers will haunt District Tavern Eatz on Halloween night, Wednesday, Oct. 31 at 9 p.m. with Warmonger and the Ohmlauts.

The Pork Torta

The Pork Torta are a whole different kind of musical institution. The group's joyously, chaotic, new wave, funk and punk infused oddball garage rock sounds a bit like the result of throwing Devo, Butthole Surfers, Circle Jerks, Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa in a blender and them setting them loose in weird costumes to do a holiday gig. 

Among other things, the band once released an imaginary 'live" album set in Estonia, complete with 'authentic' crowd noise. The band was a blast to interview...and they "swear" that their stories are 100 percent true.

TucsonSentinel.com: What's the origin story of the band? How did it come to be? And whenceforth the name?

Danny Walker: "One day, when Lucas was 13, he got food poisoning from a bad carnitas torta. During bouts of vomiting and fevered hallucinations, he heard a strange and unknown music coming from his own head. He crawled from the bathroom to the kitchen and began transcribing the sounds on a napkin, soaking it with his own sweat as he wrote. The resulting blurred manuscript would become the repertoire of the vehicle he formed to perform this delusion, his life long endeavor, and this vehicle would bear the name of the sandwich that caused it all."

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Lucas Mosely: "The Pork Torta coagulated in the early '90s. It was named after a sandwich I ate from a truck that used to park by the self-serve car wash on 22nd just west of 6th Avenue. These dudes were peeling out in the car wash, filling it up with smoke and blasting their stereo when I took my first bite."

T.S.: Current lineup? Personnel over the years?

D.W.: "The current line up is Lucas Mosley on drums and lead vocals, Ian McDaniel (aka 'Ion Ionosphere') guitar and backing vocals, Danny Walker (aka 'Serge') bass, synthesizers, and backing vocals. The line up has changed little over the years, mostly the loss of original bass player Chris Cilla, the addition of Chris Kauffman to replace him on bass, then my move from guitar/keys to bass after Kaufman’s departure. All the current members are original members."

T.S.: The Pork Torta is somewhat of a Tucson institution. Tell us some of the most notable/fun/bizarre moments over the years.

L.M.: "We lived on a boat in Hamburg, played at 11,000 feet in Northern Arizona, did two great 'We Got Cactus' Tours in France and we're hoping to play at the day-glo mini golf place on Stone."

D.W.: "Once, while playing in Estonia, we were confronted by the Russian Mob who forced us to go to their strip clubs and then gave us huge bills to pay (thinking we were rock stars). We sent Gary Bear (whom we were touring with) to pay the bill. Gary was only carrying cut-up newspaper, but he didn’t know. While he was gone, we packed up and took the first ferry to Finland. We never saw Gary again. Hilarious!"

T.S.: What other bands are you all in? 

D.W.: "Lucas is also in Shooda Shookit and frequently plays with Al Foul (both drums). Danny Walker plays guitar in Burning Palms, guitar/percussion/synthesizer in the Night Collectors, bass in the Lemon Drop Gang, and bass in Pop Gestapo. Ian is a one-band man."

L.M.: "I play drums in Shooda Shookit and with Al Foul. Those are fun, dance oriented bands but the Pork Torta is a demanding mistress, and her live shows can be a grueling test of will." 

T.S.: In all seriousness, what motivates each of you  musically? 

D.W.: "The whole band is basically a spawn of Perez Prado, with liberal sprinklings of the Butthole Surfers (classic era), Devo, Chrome, Black Flag, Trini Lopez, Walter/Wendy Carlos, Spoony Gee. Lucas listens to a lot of '60s Mexican rock, and the principles and spirit of Neu! are laced through out. Also, Brian Eno is God, just sayin. Do we love playing live? Hell yes. We love crushing everything around us like a sonic bulldozer. We aren’t loud per-say, just overwhelming. We take great pride in our equipment as everything we have is literally the peak of '70s technology."

L.M.: " I want to sweat and make people sweat."

T.S.: Favorite band or artist of all time for each of you?

D.W.: "Lucas's is Gary Puckett and the Union Gap Band, Ian's is Simply Saucer, mine is the Fall"

L.M.: "Gary Numan."

D.W.: "Our favorite local band is “The Kevin Dowling Fitness Hour”. Not only does he entertain, but he keeps you in shape- very important in today’s Fitbit world. Cans is our favorite venue, it’s run by people from our musical family: go to Cans!" 

T.S.:  Favorite local bands and local venues?

L.M.: "Che's Lounge, the Fisters."

T.S.: How has the Tucson musical landscape changed for better or worse over time in your experience?

L.M.:"Laptop DJ's are so much more profitable than live music"

D.W.:"The musical landscape has ebbed and flowed over the years like anywhere but one thing has always been constant and thats that tucson has such a high concentration of great and innovative musicians. We have toured the world and all over the U.S., and there is definitely something weird, creative, and special here."

T.S.: What (if anything) is in the pipeline for the near future?

L.M.: "New formations, new lower standards."

D.W.:"New records on multiple fronts, as well as ambitious video projects. The Pork Torta comes in many forms so watch closely!"

T.S.: Anything else we should know?

D.W.:"Lucas likes to deep ocean surf pre/post hurricane. Ian once built a wooden go cart. Danny Walker actually worships Godzilla as a literal god. The band is huge in Knoxville, Tenn. We once opened for Wallace and Ladmo."

T.S.: So...tell us about the gig!

D.W.:"The Halloween Show at St. Charles is going to be fabulous! We are going to start with a real black mass and then segue to the bake sale and fun fair. Don’t miss it! Saturday, Oct. 27."

L.M.:"Yeah, Saturday, Oct. 27! At St. Charles Tavern! At least three crushing sets!"  

Nightmare On Congress Street

Yet another Tucson Halloween tradition suitable for the grown-up crowd beckons this Friday night in the heart of Downtown Tucson. 

Billed as the largest Halloween party in Southern Arizona, this year's edition of the long running Nightmare on Congress Street features both live bands and DJs, three stages, a costume contest with cash prizes, a "truly" haunted venue (the allegedly ghost friendly Hotel Congress) and live DJs sure to wake the dead and get them dancing.

The party takes place at Hotel Congress and on nearby Fifth Avenue, which will be closed for the event and features live music from The Surfbroads, The Michigan Rattlers, Black Mood, Alien Atmosphere, and DJs RipDee and El Tambo.

Nightmare On Congress Street begins at 7 p.m. Friday at Hotel Congress.

Halloween Hauntfest at 191 Toole

Meanwhile, around the corner at 191 Toole, a new tradition unfolds with the first annual Halloween Hauntfest, hosted by comedian Kristine Levine.

Featuring burlesque performances by Tucson Libertine League, DJs Butt Fly and Opticon Hex, a "Bizarre Bazaar" art market and a ton of live music, the event is another great bet for your Halloweekend shenanigans.

The event includes performances from two California based bands: The Fink Bombs and Vooduo,as well as Phoenix based group The Spider Hole, and Tucson's own The Rifle, Pigmy Death Ray and local headliners (and the spookiest band in town, hands down) The Mission Creeps. 

Halloween Hauntfest at 191 Toole takes place Saturday night at 191 Toole.

The Gathering at The Quarry (Bisbee)

Want to celebrate your Halloweekend out of town?

Bisbee's The Quarry has a Halloween show for you - most likely a very, very LOUD one at that.

The Gathering 2018 features a solid lineup of Tucson based thrash, metal and punk bands including Los Perros, Elyzian, Death Church, Bordertown Devils and the Tucson band too tough to die -  Texas Trash & the Trainwrecks

The Gathering 2018 begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, October 27 at The Quarry in Bisbee, Arizona.

Check your local listings

Each week this column compiles a choice selection of live gigs in and around Tucson with the help of good venue and band event announcements and other resources.  If you've got a gig coming up and you'd like your event listed in this space (or if your local band has a major announcement or a new release) drop me a line at arts@tucsonsentinel.com.

Friday, October 26

  • Dan Stokes - 6 p.m. Sand-Reckoner Vineyards
  • Mason - 7 p.m. Johnny Gibson's Market
  • Strung Out with The Bombpops & Counterpunch - 7 p.m. 191 Toole
  • BTP & Friends - 7 p.m. Borderlands
  • Nightmare on Congress: The Michigan Rattlers, the Black Moods, Alien Atmosphere, The Surfbroads, Ripdee and El Tambo - 7 p.m. Hotel Congress
  • El Tambo w/ DJs Dirtyverbs, DJQ, Humble Lianess, Quiahuitl and Viny Wizard - 8 p.m. Club Congress
  • Naim Amor's A Jazz trio - 8 p.m. Exo Roast
  • Onesall - 8 p.m. House of Bards
  • Stryper  - 8 p.m. Rialto
  • Piano Lovers Lounge w/ Sarah Mohr & Paul Jenkins - 8 p.m. Westbound
  • Witching Hour Revue (Burlesque) - 9 p.m. Cans
  • Dusty Santa Maria, Moira Ichiban, Lana Rebel - 9 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern
  • Manly Manlesque Halloweener (Burlesque) - 10 p.m. Surly Wench
  • Voodoo Halloween w/ the Muffulettas - 9:30 p.m. The Parish
  • Welcome Home & Crooked Teeth - 6:30 p.m.Spark Project Collective

Saturday, October 27

  • Downtown Fall Record Swap - 12 p.m. Cans
  • Odaiko Sonora Obon Dance - 12:30 p.m. Rhythm Industry Performance Factory
  • Tucson Flea - 4 p.m. Owls Club
  • Battle of the Bands - 5 p.m. House of Bards
  • GLOWeen - 7 p.m. Triangle Y Ranch (Oracle, AZ)
  • Hatpin Duo, Spirit House Vaudeville - 7 p.m. Kinetic Arts Tucson
  • Halloween Hauntfest w/ The Mission Creeps, The Rifle, Pigmy Death Ray, The Spider Hole, Vooduo, the Fink Bombs - 7 p.m. 191 Toole
  • The Quarter - 7 p.m. Borderlands
  • Outdoor Stage Opening: Wild Mick Brown (Dokken) and R. Mason (Warrant) - 7 p.m. House of Bards
  • Downer Disco:  DJs Carl & Steven - 8 p.m. Exo Roast
  • Dia de las Luchas - 8 p.m. Rialto
  • Miss Olivia & The Interlopers,  The Demons - 9 p.m. Cans
  • Psygoat, JJCnV, Droll - 9 p.m. District Eatz
  • Monster Bash: Ripdee Musica, Yung Alva, Melohyype - 9 p.m. Cobra Arcade
  • The Pork Torta - 9 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern
  • Fineline Revisited : Slashdance - 9 p.m. Surly Wench
  • Ghouls Night Out w/ DJ Heather Vee - 10 p.m. Rocco's Little Chicago
    Spacefish Does Springsteen - 10 p.m. Che's Lounge
  • 7th Heaven: Witching Hour (Dance Party) - 11 p.m. Cans
  • The Gathering 2018 Halloween Celebration - 7 p.m. the Quarry (Bisbee, AZ)

Sunday, October 28

  • Sunday Sessions w/ Kevin Pakulis - 2:30 p.m. Borderlands
  • Tiny House of Funk - 5 p.m. Public Brewhouse 
  • Last Sunday Revival: Christopher Stevens - 5 p.m. Tap & Bottle 
  • Kate Becker Band - 6 p.m. Monterey Court
  • Weekend Lovers, Elegant Rabies - 6 p.m. Che's Lounge
  • Slap Frost w/ Casual, Z-Man, DJ True Justice, Vocab Slick - 8 p.m. Cans 
  • Still Corners - 8 p.m. Club Congress 
  • An Evening with Joan Baez - 8 p.m. Fox Tucson 
  • The Crenshaw, Teton, & Ditch Bank - 9 p.m. Owls Club 

Monday, October 29

  • Comedy at the Wench: Died Laughing  - 7 p.m. Surly Wench
  • Monday Open Mic Night - 7 p.m. House of Bards
  • Four Fists, P.O.S, Astronautalis, Shiftee, Angel Davenport  - 8 p.m. 191 Toole

Tuesday , October 30

  • Toot Toot Tucson Halloween Extra Special w/ Frank Powers - 7:30 p.m. The Screening Room
  • Jerry Paper, Kiefer, Stimulator Jones & Prophet - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Devan Mulvaney, Lano, Chateau Chateau,  Desert Fish - 8 p.m. Cans
  • Sunbathe, Feverfew, Ryan Von Gonten  - 8 p.m. Club Congress
  • Jauz w/ Holy Goof - 8 p.m. Rialto

Wednesday, October 31

  • Magic at the Mortuary - 6 p.m. Owls Club
  • Dawes - 8 p.m. Rialto
  • October Intuition - 8 p.m. Royal Sun
  • VAMP: Halloween 2018 (Drag Show) - 9 p.m. Cans
  • Besmirchers, Warmonger,The Ohmlauts  - 9 p.m. District Eatz

Thursday, November 1

  • Y La Bamba, Winter, Weekend Lovers - 7 p.m. Club Congress
  • Kero Kero Bonito  - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Aaron Lewis - 8 p.m. Rialto
  • Reveal: A show of debut burlesque performances - 9 p.m. Cans

Stay tuned next week as Night Of The Living Fest takes over Downtown, Tucson's hard living balladeer Billy Sedlmayr teams up with Arizona author Jesse Sensibar, Roman Barten-Sherman and Tom Walbank sing the blues and for more music news and listings . 

Correction: An earlier version of this report included an incorrect date for Nightmare on Congress.


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The Besmirchers

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