Skeletons, hippies, wrestlers, and Minnie Mouse gathered in the Little Building Cabaret on Tuesday, Oct. 22 to have their ears pounded by a relentless beat of kick drum and bass. In a step away from tradition, the annual Wax on Felt Halloween show featured punk, hardcore, and sludge music to accentuate the holiday’s dark side.
According to Wax on Felt President Lianna Foye and Vice President Virginia Wright, previous years exclusively featured acts covering other bands’ songs. This year, they invited heavier local bands to create a spooky atmosphere.
Whether it was Hellal’s overpowering bass and chilling screams or Chernabog’s in-your-face stage presence, every band was fit to disturb.
According to Dave Vitola, bassist and vocalist for Boston-based punk duo deathdealer, who performed in the show, the band crafts a slimy and sloppy tone by combining overly distorted bass and raw wailing screams. Both members of the duo are self-professed fans of horror flicks, evidenced by their lyrics about ghosts, dead girls, and rats.
“This isn’t music I would necessarily listen to on my iPod,” said Becca Chairin, a freshman visual and media arts major attending the show, “but all the bands here have been fun to watch live.”
Not everyone in the audience was so receptive.
“People would come in and then leave,” said Sarah Heatwole, a freshman writing, literature, and publishing major on the Wax on Felt team. “A lot of people didn’t stay for much of the show.”
Some said they found unfamiliar music alienating.
“This was a small crowd that seemed to have very little interest in this type of music,” said Pat Elwood, another freshman writing, literature, and publishing major who is also part of the Wax on Felt team. “I’ve heard that Wax’s Halloween show is usually a big deal at Emerson, but it’s hard to say with the way this year’s crowd turned out.”
But an uninterested crowd was not the only problem the show faced. Between the excessive feedback and the lack of distinctive vocals, there were plenty of troublesome technical issues. The sludge punk vocals were washed out by the loudness of the guitars and drums that are characteristic of the genre — guitarist and vocalist Chris Wardlaw of the band Worms occasionally looked like he was just lip-syncing.
Worms wasn’t the only band affected, either.
“I wish I could actually hear myself during our set,” said Johnny Capece, bassist and vocalist of xXBROKENHEARTXx, a hardcore punk band from Boston. “The mic-ing was really quiet for most of the show.”
But despite the minor setbacks, performers at the Halloween show agreed that the night was successful overall, from fun performances to a fitting Halloween theme.
“‘Wild’ is the best adjective I can think of to describe tonight,” said xXBROKENHEARTXx’s lead guitarist and vocalist Tyler Dack.
The band mirrored the fictional band Crash and The Boys from the popular manga Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World in its set, which was especially well-received by the crowd. They performed short songs that only lasted a few bars, and introduced them almost the same way every time, earning more than a few laughs throughout their set. Capece even dressed up like Scott Pilgrim for the show.
“Any show that we get to play for at least a few people who have never heard of us before is seen as successful in our eyes,” said Vitola. “And we certainly did that tonight.”
Bilcik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.