At Strange Matter, rock legends reincarnated

Sam Roots

Contributing Writer

Early on Halloween night, a crowd on Grace Street – both costumed and uncostumed – swarmed into restaurant/venue/video arcade Strange Matter for a free show, aptly titled “Return of the Living Dead Bands.”

The show, amalgamated from members of local bands like Grundle Punch, The Trillions, Souvenir’s Young America and Sad Bastard Revival, consisted of theatrical cover sets reenacting performances by NOFX, Descendants, Led Zeppelin, Bad Religion, and The Misfits.

“Return of the Living Dead Bands” is the brainchild of Webber (who preferred to be called by his last name), a local musician and drummer for the evening’s incarnation of The Misfits. He said that the idea started at a house party two years ago, where he and his band came and performed as The Misfits. This sparked the idea to do a free concert consisting of more cover performances of several bands in a single setting on Halloween.

The first “Return of the Living Dead Bands” performance was last year at Mojo’s on Cary and Laurel, and moved this year to Strange Matter. Webber said that despite only wanting this to be a once a year event, he wants this project to continue every Halloween.

The event was emceed by none other than Satan himself, who introduced each performer and provided a brief history of each covered band – each, apparently, sold their souls to him to achieve fame and fortune.

Professional belly dancer Kim Sikorsky, who MC Satan described as “the lady who keeps the fires burning in hell,” provided entertainment in between sets. Her performances featured a blend of traditional Middle Eastern belly dancing with punk and industrial rock.

NOFX opened the show to a fairly large crowd, followed by the Descendants, providing an intense performance of melodic hardcore punk.  At one point, a member of the crowd jumped onstage and briefly sang with the lead singer.

Led Zeppelin provided an interesting change of pace, complete with wigs, costumes, British accents, and a guitar solo with a violin bow on “Dazed and Confused.”  A costume contest followed: a Mexican Jedi, a sock puppet, Indiana Jones, and a couple dressed as Link and Zelda from Nintendo’s long-running “Legend of Zelda” video games were all spotted. The latter couple won a prize provided by Vinyl Conflict.

Bad Religion and The Misfits climaxed the show, and both came dressed for the part. Bad Religion performed a very energetic set, dressed as nuns, monks, and priests (get it?), and the final performance – from The Misfits – was overwhelming from the beginning.  The audience response was just as intense: showgoers leapt into the crowd from the stage, climbing on one another; a mosh pit formed less than a minute into The Misfit’s first song.

For a show whose original concept was to revive old music, Return of the Living Dead Bands – set to return to Strange Matter next year – certainly managed a complete reanimation.

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