The night of October 31st I was feeling a little under the weather. My friends and I were sitting on my couch watching TV and I had to take a full dose of NyQuill, drink ginger tea and eat oranges to help me get through the night. Seemed like a good idea to stay home and get some well deserved rest, but I wasn’t going to stay in and rest on the best night of the year—Halloween. I found a dusty convict costume in my closet, bought the cheapest clown make-up I could find and hit the streets with my partner in crime.
A few blocks away we arrived at the Knockdown Center, where beloved DJ Jonathan Toubin was hosting the 12th annual NY Night Train Haunted Hop! A multimedia dance party with a badass line-up including Shannon and The Clams, Guantanamo Baywatch and The Nude Party.
I didn’t wanted to miss a second of the action so we got there just in time to see Paint Fumes kick off the night with their set, but the place was still semi-empty. It was until 9:30pm that creatures of the night started trickling in. Guantanamo Baywatch was up next and they we’re dressed as decrepit old ladies. There was a lot going on, on one hand you had these surfer grandmas rockin’ the main stage, meanwhile there was a smaller venue called “Room Full of Mirrors” with cover bands (of bands like the New York Dolls) playing. It was a labyrinth of spooktacular music and visuals.
Once proclaimed “The Sassiest Boy in America” and one of the most interesting men in Rock’n’Roll, Ian Svenonius has a sharp sense on how to entertain an audience. He doesn’t need a costume, he’s already a character 365 days a year. So when I saw that he was getting ready to take over the main stage, I rushed into the first row to witness it from a close distance. His new alter-ego called “Escape-ism” is a solo project that features just him, a rhythm box and an electric guitar. It sounds like the early Chain and The Gang with a Suicide-esque touch.
I decided to take a walk and check out The Graveyard, where there was an underground room filled with hanging dolls, tarot cards and upside-down crucifixes. I was genuinely scared so I got out of there and wandered around upstairs where I saw werewolves, creepy clowns and an alien abduction. I ran into a guy dressed as a garbage can and I’m pretty sure I saw Zoey Deschanel. I found myself in the Room Full of Mirrors, where Saylavees doing a pretty solid B52’s tribute. They looked amazing and the guy’s voice was spookily similar.
When I came back to the main stage the room was packed, it was very hard to move to the front and it was simply impossible to get a drink. I saw the legendary Kid Congo with The Pink Monkey Birds coming out of their dusty coffins and providing an electro-shock session with classic hits of The Cramps and The Gun Club. It was pretty cool especially considering that in the next room was a Gun Club cover band, while Kid Congo Powers (who actually played in that band) played in front of me—true Punk Royalty, my friends.
Shannon and the Clams started their set in wicked costumes. I was looking forward to checking ’em out and so was everyone else I guess, because the audience suddenly grew very large. They played their own songs as well as renditions of Alice Cooper’s “I’m Eighteen,” “I Put a Spell on You” and even “Master of Puppets” by Metallica. But there was something awfully wrong with the sound, cause Shannon kept calling out on the engineers to fix it. “At least turn on the disco ball”, said the dude on keyboards. “Give us the disco ball!!!”
I had no idea where my friend was, I had lost him a couple of hours ago but I was certain that wherever he was, it was fun. Something dragged me to the room full of mirrors again, because why not? What I saw next would make my night. A band called Wyldlife playing Dead Boys covers. It was so raw and so real, as if the real Dead Boys had possessed their bodies for one more night of mayhem and self-destruction. It was beautiful. I was watching from above and right there in the middle of the mosh pit, there was my friend. He was having a blast.
As the night came to an end, Jonathan Toubin took the DJ booth and played his usual selected cherries of rockabilly and northern soul. It was a fantastic atmosphere filled with all kinds of freaks. The best ones took over the stage for a contest, where a jury decided the top three costumes of the night where Bob Ross, Poison Ivy and of course, Alien Abduction. Finally, people clapped and cheered for alien abduction and she took the modest $100 dollars prize. I remember feeling so glad that I didn’t stay home.
It was not over yet, though. I decided to go back to the Room Full of Mirrors one more time, where there was another last treat: The Mystery Lights with an after hours surprise show. I ran into my friends there and one of them had lost his voice while the other had all his make-up ruined. The Mystery Lights kicked ass, but it was time to wrap it up and go home.
By now It was 2:45am and everyone was gone. I thought, tomorrow I’m gonna feel like shit, but it was all worth it. Happy Halloween.