One of the best things about Halloween is the opportunity to dress up as someone or something else. Long after our childhood greed for dragon-hoard levels of candy has faded, we still retain the love of transformation that a mask, a wig, some makeup or just a good party dress can provide. And so it’s no surprise to see a ravening army of Albuquerque bands clamoring to sign up for a slot in this year’s Night of the Living Cover Bands show at Launchpad.
For at least a decade, the show has been an October in Albuquerque institution, allowing local bands to dress up as their favorite national acts and play somebody else’s chart-topping hits. Thanks to COVID restrictions, last year’s “virtual” edition streamed video recordings of 10 bands covering well-known artists from the past straight from the Launchpad stage. Under the circumstances, it was a welcome online escape. But this year’s edition of Night of the Living Cover Bands is a full-on, live-and-loud, in-person event. And, as if making up for the lost time that last year forced on all of us, this year’s concert is mutating into three weekends and six nights of shows!
Each of the six nights features 10 or so bands doing their own personal interpretation of other artists—some reverent, some radical. The very first night, Oct. 8., for example, spotlights Burque Sol doing Motown, Silver String Band as MGMT, The Illegal Aliens as Linkin Park, Hooks & The Huckleberries as Rage Against The Machine, OakVale as Post Malone, Dust City Opera as The Rolling Stones, Levi Platero as Jimi Hendrix, El Super as Panteon Rococo, The Haptics as The Cranberries and The Roswells as Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner.
“Being a performer who generally does original music, it’s giving us an opportunity to cover some of our biggest influences,” says Dominic Cagliostro, guitarist and vocalist for Albuquerque’s “Celtic stoner-rock” band The Horned God, who will be hitting the Launchpad stage on Oct. 15. “It’s fun getting together with the band mates listening to the songs, picking out the nuances, adding in a few of our own.” Among the band’s self-professed influences: Nomeansno, Kyuss, Dead Boys, Misfits, Judas Priest. This year, though, The Horned God opted to perform as American metal band Danzig. Why Danzig? “We picked Danzig cause … whooooooyeeeeeeahh! It’s Halloweeny!!!” Cagliostro promises, “There’s gonna be singalongs for Danzig fans.” Also, the band’s side project, doom metal purveyors L’uomo Nero, will be covering the Doors on Oct. 16. “It’s gonna be a great Night of the Living Cover Bands this year. For sure.”
Longtime Albuquerque punk shockers Beefcake in Chains issued a declaration via frontman Captain Orgasm, stating that, “The Mighty Beefcake in Chains have deemed our forefathers The Damned as worthy ammunition to once again bring our full-frontal stage show and destroy the stage of the Mighty Launchpad on October 16.” On a more musical note, the Captain admits, “I chose The Damned because they are true innovators, and they did the best version of the world’s greatest love song: ‘Jet Boy/Jet Girl’ by Elton Motello.”
For 2021’s NOTLCB the punk/rockabilly quartet Gilead Rises opted to take the stage as legendary stadium rockers Queen. “I think, for Gilead Rises, we were excited to try a style that’s totally different for us,” says vocalist Arelis Buchanan. “We went with Queen,” admits Buchanan, “because, frankly, I already had a Freddie Mercury costume. Plus, they’re iconic, and you always want to cover a band that people have heard of and love. Because, at the end of the day, Night of the Living Cover Bands is about seeing your favorite local artists come together and celebrate these legendary artists that everyone knows and loves. It’s also a great chance to leap outside your comfort zone and really push yourself as musicians.”
Barney Lopez, a booker for Launchpad and a member of local fave band Red Light Cameras, concurs. “My favorite thing about this event is seeing local bands trying to cover bands that are the complete opposite of the normal music that they play. I think it really pushes bands in musical directions that they don’t expect. I know every time I’ve done it, I came out a better musician.”
Lopez has been organizing Night of the Living Cover Bands since 2017. Asked about how 2021’s lineup stacks up, Lopez says, “This year I’m looking forward to see Sorry Guero as Garth Brooks. Complete opposite vibes, and those guys always kill it. One time they did Prince, and Ray, the lead singer, rode into the Launchpad on a purple mo-ped.”
Among the other well-known bands getting the cover treatment over the course of this year’s Night of the Living Cover Bands: Blink 182, Bon Jovi, The White Stripes, Sly & the Family Stone, Bruce Springsteen, Green Day, Primus and ZZ Top. For the complete lineup of performers (and who they’re performing) Fridays and Saturdays throughout October go to launchpadrocks.com.
Night of the Living Cover Bands
Launchpad (618 Central Ave. SW)
Friday and Saturday nights, 7pm to 1am
Oct. 8 and 9, Oct. 15 and 16 and Oct. 22 and 23
This is a 21+ event.
Tickets are $5 in advance (tickets.holdmyticket.com/tickets/367466) or $10 at the door.