John Gray’s photo of Phil Angotti and band as Tom Petty from Phil Angotti's Facebook page.
It took some time to get used to the location for this year’s Halloweekend bash. Previously, this annual gathering of local bands masquerading as famous artists has been held at Martyrs’ or The Abbey Pub. But last Thursday and Friday, Halloweekend arose from the unlikely site of Wall To Wall Recording at the corner of LaSalle and Huron. After traveling through a series of hallways, patrons arrived at a room that was about 75% stage and 25% audience area. I’m sure Wall To Wall is a fine place for musicians to record music; it just seemed a bit cramped for a live performance. A small room down the hall where people could get beverages for a small donation added to the ambience of hanging out in a neighbor’s basement.
The bands didn’t seem to let the odd setting throw them off; they were obviously having fun, and the people standing in the audience (there was no seating) were getting into the performances. On Thursday night, Dirty Pigeons, aided by a guest David Bowie impersonator, kicked things off with their performance as Queen, followed by the saxophone-fueled Androgynous Mustache as The J. Geils Band. Johnny And The Creeps, led by Halloweekend veterans John Aselin and Phil Angotti, as Morrissey and Johnny Marr respectively, were particularly effective as The Smiths. By the time they finished with a rousing “How Soon Is Now?,” the unusual setup at Wall To Wall didn’t seem to be an issue. I wasn’t able to stay late enough to catch Will Phalen and Anna Phalen as Johnny Cash W/ June Carter or Neal Alger And Co. as King Crimson.
On Friday night, a well-executed set by Chris Dorf And Friends honoring The Cars sparked a festive atmosphere that would continue through the acts that followed them. Having three vocalists capable of singing lead helped the band soar on “Bye Bye Love,” “Just What I Needed,” and other Cars classics. Angotti performed the distinctive rock of Tom Petty on this second night; impressing the audience with covers like “Refugee, and finishing with a guitar-driven “American Girl.” Metropolly, fronted by Holly Senchak, brought the hits of Blondie to life with spirited covers like “Call Me,” “Heart Of Glass,” and “One Way Or Another.” Closing with “Rapture,” Metropolly hit an infectious groove that was augmented by a guest horn player.
Although I had to leave before Falldown took on Uncle Tupelo and The Bon Mots rocked Bob Seger, I have a feeling things continued in the same fun vein. In the end, Wall To Wall Recording became like the bands it hosted on those two nights—a local space taking on the persona of a major rock venue. If this is the new home of Halloweekend, that could definitely be a treat.