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Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008

I Remember Halloween

Hardcore’s greats reborn at the Cactus Club

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Being something of a perpetual adolescent, I remain a fan of both Halloween and hardcore punk. To me, the holiday and the musical genre are emblematic of unfettered youth, of the appeal of danger and of letting your guard down and fully enjoying the moment. They are also both things that many older people still just do not seem to "get" (and often actively campaign against)-a reality that, 20 years removed from my teenage years, rekindles my love of rebelliousness and disregard for authority.

The folks at Sky High Skateboard Shop also seem to note the potential relationship between punk and Halloween, as they will be sponsoring a celebration of both at the Cactus Club on Oct. 31. A collection of Milwaukee's finest hardcore bands will take to the stage that night in homage to the genre's all-time greats. Children in Heat will take on The Misfits (whose Halloween-inspired songs and stage attire influenced my own choice of costumes as a young man); Dead Issue (as Ready to Fight) will "play" Negative Approach; Protestant, under the moniker Damaged, will tackle Black Flag; and local favorites Get Rad will assume the identity of Minor Threat. If nothing else, the event will serve to remind the audience of the continued vitality of early '80s hardcore punk, yet the concert should also serve a more immediate, visceral purpose: Simply put, when was the last time you were able to stage-dive to a live version of "Rise Above"?

Needless to say, Sky High owner Aaron Polansky is incredibly excited about the show. "The energy surrounding the show is already building," notes Polansky, and he foresees a night of pure Halloween-inspired mayhem. The bands themselves are also highly anticipating the show, as they look forward to playing the songs that got them into punk rock. Get Rad bassist Dave Rudnik (who must be scouring Halloween Express stores across the city looking for a Steve Hansgen costume) comments that Minor Threat "was a damn good band, possibly the best hardcore band ever," and he looks forward to the sheer thrill of playing the band's songs in a live setting.

Yet the bands are not taking their roles too seriously. When asked if he was at all intimidated by the prospect of filling the shoes of Minor Threat, Rudnik astutely notes that "no one ever asks the crappy cover bands on Brady Street if it's intimidating to be Led Zeppelin or Jimi Hendrix." With such an attitude in mind, Rudnik admits that part of the appeal of the show will be in seeing obviously drunk concert attendees singing along to such songs as "Straight Edge" and "Out of Step." To me, though, the highlight will be when Children in Heat inevitably play the Misfits' "Halloween." As I sing along to the over-the-top macabre lyrics ("Candy apples and razor blades/ Little dead are soon in graves/ I remember Halloween,") I will fondly remember my childhood-and then maybe go out and egg some houses, just for old time's sake.

The Cactus Club hosts its Halloween Bash on Oct. 31 at 9:30 p.m.

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