Concert promoter Tony Palagrossi won't soon forget the Marilyn Manson concert he
booked at a New Jersey venue two Halloweens ago.
Bomb threats and protests marred the otherwise perfect creepshow of a gig by the
As president of Concerts East, Palagrossi -- who has booked everyone from
hard-rockers Grand Funk Railroad and industrial-pop band Stabbing Westward to the
controversial Manson on the fabled day of freaks -- may be hoping to avoid similar
fireworks this Halloween, but at a cost.
In choosing to book popular art-rockers Garbage for a show in Asbury Park, N.J., he has
likely forfeited the marketability of rock's first night of fright. Tickets for the Garbage show
have been so slow, in fact, the gig is being switched to a smaller-capacity venue.
"It depends on the show," Palagrossi said. "Quite frankly, I think that a holiday like
Halloween takes something away from some bands. But for a band like Marilyn Manson,
it makes it the place to be."
It seems as if concert promoters, such as Palagrossi, have a choice for Halloween: book
such Halloween-appropriate, ghoulish bands as Kiss, the Cramps or Marilyn Manson
and risk mayhem, or book more conventional rock groups and settle for reduced ticket
But no question about it: For the rock 'n' roll P.T. Barnums who don't fear a little extra
bacchanalian revelry, Halloween night can be a mainstay of their yearly schedule.
"It's the primo day for bands that can be aligned to the theme of Halloween," said Gary
Bongiovanni, editor in chief of Pollstar, the touring-industry trade magazine. "You
would expect to probably do more tickets on that day than a normal day for a band like
Manson or Kiss."
Rock 'n' roll has always had its horror-show side, from goth-glam rocker Manson and the
fright-costumed band Kiss to '70s shockmeister Alice Cooper and '60s demon-rock act
the Crazy World of Arthur Brown.
And that's why Halloween -- the night when everyone gets into the costumed
shock act -- has become an ideal night for live-rock activity by acts specializing in the
scary, the menacing and the bizarre.
Halloween is one of the most booked days of the year for some genres of live music,
according to Bongiovanni. "It's a night where a lot of people are already inclined to go
out," he said. "And this year, Halloween falls on a Saturday. Therefore, creating a
Halloween event around the concert is a good way to market."
And it's a good way to market bands that fit the Halloween vibe, Bongiovanni added.
This Halloween's freak parade includes Manson, rockers Alien Sex Fiend, trip-hop guru
DJ Spooky and ghoulish metal-man Rob Zombie.
Manson roll their Mechanical Animals tour into St. Paul, Minn. -- a date
Bongiovanni predicts will likely create a huge buzz and ultimately sell out. Rob Zombie
and space-rock sextet Monster Magnet bring a creepy double bill to Lewiston, Maine, while
Alien Sex Fiend invade Cambridge, Mass.
The night's purveyors of the bizarre include other such unconventional acts as
quirky-popsters Barenaked Ladies, who will offer their special brand of musical
tricks-or-treats within the glittery aura of the Las Vegas strip.
At the top of the heap is the ultimate Halloween act, the costumed, pop-metalheads Kiss,
who are kicking off their Psycho-Circus tour at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
Opening Kiss' Halloween romp is another Halloween-friendly act: the aptly titled art-rockers Smashing Pumpkins.
Shock-rockers GWAR and clown-faced, horror-core rappers Insane Clown Posse
descend on St. Louis, while in Hamburg, Germany, Halloween '98 will be greeted by
gothic-godfathers Bauhaus, with a show the night before the haunted holiday.
For some artists, such as DJ Spooky, the name alone makes for the perfect Halloween
"I'm not going to change anything around, but I respect the historic ideas about
Halloween," said Spooky, who performs at the Hollywood Athletic Club in Los Angeles
on All Hallow's Eve.
"I'm going to probably add some additional visual punch to stuff," said Spooky, whose
shows feature montages of video snippets and effects. "Halloween is a day of masks,
pagan reenactment, the bizarre role-playing that kicked around when different cultures
got to the New World. So, on a lot of levels, it's like, hey -- every day is Halloween."
Shock rockers aren't the only acts slated to raise sonic hell on Halloween. Promoters are
booking acts from all across the musical spectrum.
In New York, '70s pop-rock pioneers Cheap Trick perform at Irving Plaza, the Rob
Halford-less heavy-metal act Judas Priest perform across town at the Hammerstein
Ballroom, while lesser-known acts, such as power-pop veterans the Mr. T Experience,
thrash-rock hip-hoppers Incubus, pop-jazzman Grover Washington Jr., and bubblegum-punkers the Queers also perform in the Big Apple.
In Boston, veteran metal-act Mötley Crüe take center stage at the Orpheum
Theatre, while in Chicago, artists such as the punk group All, swing-revivalists the Brian
Setzer Orchestra, country-crooner Kenny Rogers, electronic-dance group Meat Beat
Manifesto, jam-band God Street Wine and punk-ska rockers Less Than Jake perform at
San Francisco boasts Halloween's loudest assortment of tricks and treats, with gigs from
ghoulish-punkers the Cramps, industrial-mainstays Spahn Ranch, punkers Stanford
Prison Experiment and industrial acts Front Line Assembly and Kevorkian Death Cycle.
Across the bay, jam-oriented pop-sensations the Dave Matthews Band will certainly
scare up a stadium full of fans at the Oakland Coliseum.
The most bizarre lineup of acts goes to the equally bizarre city of Las Vegas, which
welcomes jam-rockers Phish, Australian crooner Tom Jones, Canada's Barenaked
Ladies, country singer Faith Hill, Motown legends the Supremes and alt-rockers the
Motels for Halloween gigs.
More Halloween Night Shows:
Alanis Morissette; Toronto, Ont., Phoenix Concert Theatre
Better Than Ezra; Houston, Texas, Aerial Theatre
Fastball; Medford, Mass., Tufts University
Goo Goo Dolls, Athenaeum; Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Walt Disney World's Pleasure Island
Henry Rollins; Seattle, Wash., Paramount Theatre
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion; Denver, Colo., Ogden Theatre
Lyle Lovett; Indianapolis, Ind., Clowes Memorial Hall
Mike Watt and the Black Gang; Minneapolis, Minn., 7th Street Entry
MXPX; Baltimore, Md., Fletcher's
Neil Diamond; Milwaukee, Wis., Milwaukee Arena
Rancid; Worcester, Mass., Palladium
Reel Big Fish; Pittsburgh, Pa., Gateway Clipper
Seven Mary Three; Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Walt Disney World's House of Blues
Son Volt; Milwaukee, Wis., Rave
Squirrel Nut Zippers; Washington, D.C., 9:30 Club
Suicide Machines; Cincinnati, Ohio, Bogart's
Tragically Hip; Atlanta, Ga., Roxy Theatre
Violent Femmes; Milwaukee, Wis., Pabst Theater
Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black; Seattle, Wash., Fenix Underground
Widespread Panic; New Orleans, La., UNO Lakefront Arena