Afrobeta, Hollerween, and the Undead at the Electric Pickle, October 30

With Holy Ghost! and Depressed Buttons

The Electric Pickle

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Better than: A pillowcase full of snack-size Snickers and black-market cigarettes.

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In the run-up to Hollerween, Tony Smurphio and Cuci Amador absolutely insisted on keeping their freak fest costume plans a total, non-negotiable, lockbox secret. Every time Crossfade asked the question, they'd just evade and tease and enshroud.

But as Devil's Night drifted deep into the post-midnight hours, Afrobeta finally crept out of the shadows and revealed themselves: Tony (and his electroshock hair) done up as Beetlejuice, and Cuci in a blood-red wedding dress as his ill-gotten bride, Lydia.

Out there on the backyard stage as fake fog drifted up toward a half-moon, the pair sunk down behind twin key decks ... She to the left, he to the right.

Slowly, a hellish glow gathered. And tearing off for a mini-tour of Burton's cartoony goth nightmarescape, Afrobeta started the set with a cover of Danny Elfman's "Theme From Beetlejuice." Every '80s baby in the place was seized by flashbacks of bio-exorcists, yuppie corpses, headshrinkers, demon sandworms, and the miscellaneous dead.

And that's when the zombies began to dance. Without even a stutter step, Cuci and Tony cut into "Touch" and "Two Different Worlds." And seamlessly, the duo segued from one song into the next as the undead mob, packed crotch-to-ass at the foot of the stage, throbbed and bobbed and sang along ("My friends are going home/I could go home with you/We could keep it quiet/They won't have a clue") with its scarlet mistress.

But the moment wasn't pure positive vibes. On the devil's dark day, you can bet that bad blood will eventually bubble up. And somewhere around the third verse of Afrobeta's ode to illicit fun, "Do You Party?," the shit indeed got ugly. Beer bottles and lowball glasses got smashed. A couple girls screamed. And two undead dudes started a skirmish -- tangling up, throwing drunken punches, and generally failing to do any damage. (Note a minor disturbance in the video above at approximately 2:40.)

Yet even for a brawl, Afrobeta wasn't stopping. (As previously mentioned, though, the fight was kinda sloppy and pathetic. There was no real threat. And one of the big blonde Viking security guards sorted out the scrap in seconds.) The band just partied through the mayhem, spit and sang a few more verses, and wrapped the track before rolling into "That Thing" and "Land of Lost Lovers."

Next, Hollerween tipped a bit toward sonic chaos. Synth screeches zagged. Vocal samples hiccupped. The bass thudded like a kick to a corpse. And from backstage, some strange black skeleton skull floated out and snatched the mike. In a sort of crisp and crazy and over-enunciated way, he started rapping about sex, substance abuse, and the apocalypse.

Some potentially inaccurate lyrics: "In my brain, throughout my body/One big, fucked-up, sexican party/In my mind, I'll fuck my soul/Marijuana, cocaine, rock 'n' roll/Have you hugged your drugs today/Watch your girlfriend go away/As your world goes up in flames/You've only got yourself to blame."

Unmasked, this deaths' head MC was Ben Shahoulian, a local scenester, comic, and paranoid poet who Cuci has called a "lyrical genius." His cameo ended after only one song. But it bled into another rap cut, "Pistol Whip," soaked in the same kind of raging, angry, off-the-edge energy. This time, though, Amador held center. And seemingly out for revenge and broken bones, the frontwoman ripped through verses with so much violence you almost expected she'd bite the head off her mike.

Then the rage faded and Afrobeta finished with four, fast rave-pop faves: "Nighttime," "As Long as You Like," "Play House," and "The End." The last beat echoed into silence. Beetlejuice and his bride bounced. The hellish gloam was gone. And finally broken and beaten, the zombies stopped shaking ass and slumped off with the rest of the mob for more booze, black-market cigarettes, and maybe a taste of blood.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: A real Halloween party is getting drunk in an empty cornfield around an out-of-control bonfire.

The Crowd: Dozens of slutty bunnies; decapitated corpses; Presidents Obama, Bush II, Clinton, and Nixon; pimps; pirate prostitutes; people in their underwear; creepy rave babies; and droves of the undead.

Afrobeta's Setlist:

-"Theme From Beetlejuice" (Danny Elfman cover)


-"Two Different Worlds"

-"Do You Party?"

-"That Thing"

-"Land of Lost Lovers"

-"Pistol Whip"


-"As Long as you Like"

-"Play House"

-"The End"

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