This Friday, the fine people of Des Moines will put on wacky getups, hit up downtown, and drink too much. Sounds like a typical Friday night, right? Except this Friday happens to be the 10th annual Court Ave. District Halloween party. There will be costume contests, $3 Coors Lights (contain your excitement!), and the best concert of all time.
Mission Freak, the guys that bring the Mission Creek Festival to Iowa, are presenting Night of the Living Dead Moines, a performance of epic proportions. Hit up People’s Court at 8 p.m. to see The Poison Control Center as David Bowie performing “Ziggy Stardust,” Volcano Boys as Nirvana, Love Songs for Lonely Monsters as the Velvet Underground, and Red Poison Wolf Gun (members of Kiriko, Wolves in the Attic, Datagun, and The Poison Control Center) performing a mystery set.
We caught up with Tanner Illingworth, founder of this momentous moment in Halloween history, to talk shows, bands, and Halloween candy.
BB: Where did the idea for The Night of the Living Dead Moines show come from?
TI: The idea came from something that has been going on in Iowa City at The Mill for some time now. It’s a Halloween tradition to have local bands play cover sets, and it’s been extremely popular and fun. Some of my favorite live shows have been these Halloween shows. There are so many costume events going on with live music–why not let the bands “dress up” as someone else for the night as well?
BB: The show has such a great line-up of bands–The Poison Control Center, Love Songs for Lonely Monsters, Volcano Boys, and Red Poison Wolf Gun. Was it hard to narrow it down to just these bands?
TI: It was definitely a challenge. There are a ton of talented bands in Des Moines and Ames right now, so narrowing it down was tough. It goes to show how great our music scene is!
BB: Did you let the bands choose which bands they would be performing as?
TI: Absolutely! That’s the fun for the bands. It’s amazing to see what they do with the material. Some bands stay very true to the artist they are covering, and some like to take the songs and match them to their own musical style. You never know exactly what you are going to get. There’s probably a way to tie “trick or treat” in here somewhere, but I can’t quite pull it together…
BB: Red Poison Wolf Gun is a supergroup made up of members of The Poison Control Center, Wolves in the Attic, and Datagun. Where did the idea for this band come from? Can you give us any hints about the mystery set?
TI: Supergroup, eh? I dig it. Well, Datagun isn’t active as a band right now, and I really wanted to play a set. Trent (Wolves In The Attic) and I were looking for an excuse to start playing music together, so it sort of started there. Along the way we were lucky enough to pick up Patrick Tape Fleming (Poison Control Center) and Kevin Neal (Kiriko, Redd7 Recording) to fill out the lineup. I’m really bad at giving hints without giving away the whole thing, so I probably shouldn’t. I think it’s pretty clear that everybody in the group has a love for ’90s music, so you could make some guesses from that decade.
BB: Wolves in the Attic and Datagun are on the Mission Freak Records label. Can we expect anything new from them soon?
TI: Wolves in the Attic definitely have some things they have been working on. We haven’t really talked about release or anything, but they’ve been active. Craig from Datagun moved to Washington DC, so we are on hiatus, but we did an album before disbanding called “LIME.” We should have that available for download in the Iowa Music Store through Maximum Ames soon!
BB: Why should this show be on everyone’s Halloween to-do list?
TI: Well, these are some of the best local bands around, and they all play really great original music. Every once in a while, they might play a cover or two, but never a full cover set. This is something that only happens once a year! Plus, it’s a cover band concert with a 100% guarantee of not hearing one Nickelback song. Can we really put a price tag on that?
BB: You’re walking through a haunted house—what creepy music should be playing in the background?
TI: Nickelback. Wait, no. I misunderstood the question. I’m an avid fan of horror films, so I would probably say stick with the classics–themes from Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, and The Exorcist.
BB: What was the best Halloween costume you ever had?
TI: I had a pretty great Freddy Krueger costume when I was seven (don’t ask why or how a seven year old knows Freddy Krueger). I also remember having a great Terminator costume with a cyborg eye and some fake skin. Cool stuff.
BB: If you had to eat one type of Halloween candy for the rest of your life, what would it be?
TI: I recently discovered that I might be legitimately addicted to Candy Corn. It’s bad, it’s gotten…..really bad. Beyond that, I will eat my body weight in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and then die.
BB: What’s a movie that scares you every time?
TI: Can’t watch The Exorcist. It still gets me every time. Wait, isn’t there a Nickelback documentary out there somewhere?