Halloween night in Funkytown has come to be synonymous with a truly twisted party at The Where House, so that’s where I headed.
On arrival, you could see a line of costumed party-goers starting at the door and stretching all the way down Hemphill Street. Inside, the Hanna Barbarians were up on stage tearing it up. I fought my way through the crowd to get close, and discovered that Joe Prankster had replaced Chris Evans on bass. Recently the band has gone through some personnel changes, so as of now it consists of Blake Parish (vocals), Alex Zobel (guitar), Kris Luther (guitar), Brady Hamilton (drums) and Joe Prankster (bass).
The Barbies put on a stellar show (as always), but seeing Hamilton in a candy bikini top is something I would seriously like to flush from my memory. Evans will be missed, but Prankster does an excellent job holding down that end.
Next up, the weirdness started with the End of the World Parade. This is sort of a demented marching band, made up of drummers and horn players from across the Metroplex, along with pretty women on swings that hang from the ceiling. The parade consisted of Matt Cocuzza, Chad Cocuzza, Troy Williams, Jerome 57, Parker Anderson, Donnie McKean and Jay Wilson on drums. On horns we had Jeff Dazey, Shadow Price, Justin Barbee, Tom Urquhart, Kevin Butler and Bryan Batson. Dancers were Laura Goss, Crystal Cox, Michelle Beard and Samantha Wuehrmann.
I made it to the back courtyard just ahead of the parade, and climbed up on a skateboard half-pipe stashed back there. The courtyard is surrounded by three-story brick walls — a large room that lost its ceiling years ago. Along the south wall is a catwalk, where a bubble machine and dancers were throwing glitter into the crowd. Within minutes, the courtyard was a solid mass of writhing people, mostly in costume, waving signs and dancing to the thunderous wall of sound gushing from the horns and drumline.
Balloons rained down from above only to be popped by people wielding sparklers. Across the room I saw fire, but could not make it through the mass of people to see the pyrotechnics going on. It was fantastic and chaotic, and though it went on for an hour, the experience seemed to breeze by. At 2 a.m., the parade spilled out onto Hemphill for an apocalyptic drum solo on the sidewalk.
But the week wasn’t over yet. Saturday was Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead — a Mexican holiday of remembrance of friends and family that have passed away. That pointed me in the direction of Lola’s to see Skin and Bones Drum Cult.
Inside, I found people in costume (for many, sugar skull makeup) scattered throughout the crowd. At a small altar, people lit candles in honor of loved ones.
Skin and Bones Drum Cult took the stage, and though the band is more stationary than the Parade, it has a similar vibe and features many of the same players. We had Daniel Katsük (flute, vocals), Zuriel Bertch (violin), Ruben Salazar (bass), the Evah Lovin’ Jones (drums), Parker Anderson (drums), Troy Williams (drums), Jerome 57 (drums), Matt Cocuzza (drums), Chad Cocuzza (drums), Tom Urquhart (trombone) and David Oliver (drums).
With more drums and fewer horns, the music was nearly all percussion. Katsük provided his signature ethereal vocals. The improvisational drumming went on throughout the night, and though the crowd thinned toward the end, the energy never faded. Outside, during a break, two women spun flaming hoops. Then it was back inside for a final barrage of drumming.
Where the Parade was energizing, Skin and Bones was more spiritual and trancelike. People danced and enjoyed themselves for sure, but this was something more purposeful. There was a definite sense of achievement around 2 a.m., when the band wound down and the crowd dissolved.