The dress code was ‘dark and surreal’ and many took this on board. Most notably the bands performing in Halloween-inspired garbs.
I, sadly, left everything to the last minute. Usually one to be designing Halloween costumes over the summer, I could be found transforming a rah-rah skirt into a suitable witch’s mess of cobwebs, spiders and skulls. I was not to let this deter me though; Halloween is time to let those guards down and test your limits.
Catching the bus was a bit of an issue when the colourful aspects of your outfit only show up under a UV light. Thinking that missing the mode of transport would be the worst thing to happen this Allhallow’s Eve, I giggled with one of the Blues Brothers who noted that he’d had the same issue.
I was early for the first performance at the Alive With Art exhibition so, spotted by a former colleague, I joined friends in Pave for a pleasant catch-up.
As catch-ups do, this overran so that I missed The Dyr Sister perform, but one friend accompanied me into the exhibition to watch Mein Host perform to a speckled crowd among the artwork. One man and his guitar, the intimate venue was a perfect place to capture his enchanting voice and personality. When we followed Mein Host upstairs to Union Mash Up, where he sang three more songs, he performed to each one of us. Moving around the room, he engaged with each of us who attended early into the evening, enjoying the calm ambience with a vampire movie silently playing in the background. It was at this point, aiming to get a shot where he wore a butcher aprin emblazoned with the event’s logo, that I realised just how unorganised I had been. Having uploaded the images from Tuesday night’s Sesh, I’d left my SD card in my laptop, and would be carrying around a fully-charged and utterly useless camera for the night.
It was about 9pm when I headed down to The Polar Bear, saddened that I’d had to make the decision between the collection of bands there and the performers at Union Mash Up. I would have liked to see Lewis Young (AKA My Pleasure) perform again, and certainly would have enjoyed the change of plan for Rachel Harris who would be performing a piece on heroin and the work of Michelle Dee. The atmosphere had been delightful and calm, with a comfortable collection of chairs and a chance to chat relax, chat and drink.
But, as if hearing Grant Dobbs practising his wolf howls, the call of the wild was drawing me to The Polar Bear, where The Cotton Gussets were playing and another group of friends were aiming to meet me within minutes. Clapping along, the first band stepping down as I order my drink, I looked around at the decorated room and the few decorated customers to have joined thus far. There were many surreal skulls and a fantastic werewolf costume, but many people had opted to come simply as themselves.
Dead Hormones performed spattered in blood, the volume turned up loud and bouncing around the walls. In fact, one friend commented that they were so bouncing that he need not shake when visiting the little boys’ room just the other side of the wall from the stage. Playing a mixture of original tracks and covers, the audience was able to join in whether they knew the band or not, shaking their shoulders to their version of Stuck In The Middle or tapping their foot to General Error.
It was wonderful to watch the increasing swarm of participants; the general public as well as members of the many Hull bands who were there in support of their fellow musicians. There were a mixture of outfits, from the traditional witches (myself included), zombies and cats (why?), to fully decorated skeletons and gothic-inspired ensembles. The efforts of both bands and customers were noted in conversation, people chatting with strangers about the application of make-up and choice of outfit. From our table there was a long discussion about the appropriate manner in which to ask Jacob Tillison if we could get a picture of his backside, decorated with two bloody handprints.
Fire – a truly unstoppable force – performed a collection of horror-themed songs, including Jack the Ripper and Psycho Killer. Alfie Steel’s voice was strikingly haunting, and would not go amiss as a voiceover introduction to a slasher movie. This, teamed with the wolf howls in Bad Man which were echoed back from the audience, painted an auditory picture of the joy of Halloween, the fantastical pleasure that comes so close to fear.
Last minute headliners were the Hillbilly Troupe, having only been announced that morning. With a mixture of eyeliner efforts and unusual wardrobe choices – Mick McGarry did comment on Lloyd’s “lovely knees” during on-stage discussion about his selection of dress for the evening – they crowded the stage before an eager audience. This band always get the crowd moving, playing their favourites from the current album and even getting down to dance with the people. Ending the night in a fit of energy, they left me, and I am sure many more, hungry for more.
A thoroughly enjoyable Halloween evening; easily chatting along with an array of characters dressed as assorted characters, with fantastic music and two welcoming venues. I’m certainly ready to do it all again tonight, when a second set of bands take to The Polar Bear’s stage which includes the mysterious Tobias Reaper & The Graveyard Shift (playing at 11pm).
This time I won’t be donning my witch’s hat and wand, but I will have a camera I can use. So, at the very least, tomorrow’s review will look nicer.