ELL V GORE, HELLALUYA, MAUSOLEUM, RITUALS, DENTATA, YOUNG MOTHER, VAG HALEN and more at the Silver Dollar and Comfort Zone as part of DEATH TO T.O. 2, Saturday, October 27. Rating: NNNN
Before they turned into a full-time touring band, Fucked Up owned Halloween in Toronto. Their annual Fucked Up Fest was the gathering for the city's freaks, punks and weirdos to mosh in face paint. They seem to have turned into their Halloween curational duties, but Elliot Jones, lead yelper of local post-punkers Ell V Gore, has given the city's rock junkies a new annual party: Death to T.O.
The concept is simple, but, as last night's event demonstrated by way of props, costumes and aggression, the possibilities are endless. A spate of local bands dress up and play entire cover sets as their own favourite bands.
Some took this as an opportunity to emulate their heroes. Hellaluya, for instance, scarily inhabited Nine Inch Nails down to Trent Reznor's tendency to clutch the microphone like he's trying to squeeze the life out of it, while playing up the band's intense angst against flashing strobe lights. Others, like Vag Halen, got creative with it; their versions of Guns N' Roses' cock-rock hits took on a whole new meaning when played by an all-female band.
Given the packed, rowdy, creatively garbed crowds (cover charge was cheaper for those in costume), many bands chose to go loud. Rituals, performing as Nirvana (the drummer in drag), stuck to the noisier side of their noise-pop legacy. Their version of Negative Creep absolutely killed. The hosts, Ell V Gore, played an awesomely raucous set of tunes by the Damned, while spraying the crowd with whipped cream (and often getting a face-full of beer in return).
Sets ran like clockwork. When one band was finished playing on the Silver Dollar's stage, another would start at the next-door Comfort Zone. That often created a bottleneck at the passageway between the two venues, a spate of Waynes, Garths, Hanson Brothers and Danzigs elbowing their way through the madness and quickly downing the rest of their tall cans.
But it was worth it for the final late-night, unannounced set: Dentata as Marilyn Manson. No stranger to shock-rock moves herself, the band's statuesque lead singer goth Dana Wright performed topless, her breasts covered only by black tape forming the letters "M.M." To their credit, what caught the crowd's attention more was the band's in-your-face, eardrum wrecking version of The Beautiful People.