I arrive at Bar Deluxe dressed as a Roy Lichtenstein pop art girl, after witnessing the flowers in my yard getting trampled by costumeless teenagers with shopping bags all night. This is the first year since elementary school that I haven’t half-assed a costume–previous years having gone as myself with a handlebar mustache or with a Final Fantasy VII sword tucked into my belt, saying I was The Highlander. Lame.
As I walk in, Totem & Taboo are setting up and, I survey the dance floor to size up other costumes. So far, I think I’ve put the most work into mine. The room is replete with some variation of a “sexy something-or-other,” or some vague Harry Potter character. Totem & Taboo start and are full of energy, the singer has her face painted as a Mexican Sugar Skull and after the problems with the sound board are worked out, they put on an appropriately creepy show.
As I’m watching a guy wearing a wolf mask drink through a straw, I see the best costume of the night so far––a very tall, tattooed and male Princess Leia walks by in Leia’s slave attire, donning a beer belly and wearing Chuck Taylors. Amassing Massive Mass finally start, dressed as the Muppets and amass dark matter in everyone’s faces––the sound is perfect and they work their asses off, their stage theatrics really setting the Halloween mood as I watch Animal disappear in a blue fog.
I kick it on the couch for a bit waiting for Mr. Gnome and a guy asks if he can guess my costume, “You are a girl with the surplus of one cigarette, right?” I say “No, but I guess your costume is a ‘broke ass’ who can’t afford cigarettes.” Annoyed, I head to the stage just in time for Mr. Gnome to start. Mr. Gnome are a simple guitar and drum duo from Cleveland, Ohio that have the fullest sound I’ve ever heard out of a two-piece. Their last full-length album, Madness in Miniature, released a year ago and contains some of the most high-energy songs imaginable out of two people. They apologize between songs for not dressing up for Halloween, regardless, the dance floor fills in with skeletons and a dancing lobster as they go into “Spain.” Singer and guitarist Nicole Barille sets a guitar loop, swiftly switches her Les Paul for a Schecter hollow body and starts playing over the top of her loop. The eeriness of Barille’s Karen O. –like vocals haunts the supposedly haunted Bar Deluxe and I think to myself that this is the best the sound quality has every been in this bar. Barille shreds while gracefully stomping all over the stage with her hair flying. Out of the corner of my eye I spot what looks like someone dressed up as my dad circa 1984– flannel, Chucks, oversized glasses and a PBR in hand–then I realize those are just his normal clothes.
The dance floor is full but people are struggling to dance because of a sudden tempo change or break. I laugh as people go from running in place to aimlessly drifting during “Bit of Tongue,” a song that transitions seamlessly from easy going to “ridiculous to dance to” polka pace. The drummer, Sam Meister, intermittently switches from keys to drums throughout the night, almost as often as Barille switches guitars, and at one point he is very impressively playing two keyboards at once.
I’m a little confused when I see Elle Driver standing near Rainbow Bright, but then my confusion is interrupted by fear and concern when Boba Fett gets within close proximity of Princess Leia. Luckily, He-Man is there in case anything goes down. Mr. Gnome goes into “Plastic Shadow” and it finally appears as though the kinks in the dance floor are figured out, or maybe I’ve had too much whiskey so I just don’t care about dancing to the beat anymore. I’m starting to notice my makeup melting into my eyes so it feels like time to go wash my face, but not before one last dance at one of the better Halloween shows I’ve seen in the past few years.