The time-honored tradition of the Halloween cover set will be on full display all around downtown this weekend, as fans catch renditions of David Bowie, Ween and more.
In addition, Disco Bloodbath has transmogrified itself from a big-tent dance party outside the city limits to a multi-venue, multi-genre event at five venues in downtown Missoula.
Here's a quick guide to the Halloween goings-on downtown this Saturday:
Over at the Palace, an ongoing David Bowie tribute band, Glass Spiders, will perform two sets and some 30 songs, stretching from "Hunky Dory" (1971) through "Let's Dance" (1983).
Serving as lead singer is Nicholas Ryan, of local rock acts Skin Flowers and Shahs.
The project, started over a year and a half ago, gradually grew from seven members to 10.
"We wanted to have piano, we wanted to have synth, we wanted to have two guitarists," Ryan said. "There's songs we want to do that have ladies singing."
And saxophone, too. "There's a surprising amount of saxophone on the songs," he said. "Bowie's a sax player, so there's tons of sax."
The full lineup will have names familiar to local music fans: guitarist Nate Biehl (Cash for Junkers, Scrapyard Lullaby), guitarist John Sporman (Tom Catmull's Radio Static, Next Door Prison Hotel), synth player Ben Weiss (Modality, Avant-Garde Alliance), keyboardist Tom Helgerson (Shahs, Skin Flowers), bassist Jason McMackin (Total Combined Weight), vocalists Caroline Keys and Alison Gadbow, drummer Travis Yost (Tom Catmull's Radio Static, Next Door Prison Hotel, Love is a Dog from Nebraska), saxophonist Nathan Hoyme (Avant-Garde Alliance).
As you can see, they come from diverse backgrounds, like Biehl who's best known for country and roots-related music, or McMackin, who plays in a punk band.
"It's not like you expect Jason McMackin to be playing funky bass, and he's really good at it," he said. "Most of the people associated with the band, you wouldn't necessarily expect to see them in this kind of band."
The group did its first public show in early March, and managed to pack the VFW Post 209 on a Sunday of all nights.
"I thought it would be good, but I didn't think it would be annoying for people to have to stand two rooms away to hear it," he said.
The set list is being withheld, but you can expect some hits and some deep cuts.
"I'm really impressed with how the other people in the band have really committed their time. ... I feel like we're playing the songs right," he said.
McMackin added, "It's not until you've tried to learn to play 40 years' worth of his music that you begin to understand how he works, and even then you're just standing on two 5-gallon buckets and peeking into his bedroom."
The Glass Spiders tribute to David Bowie is set for Saturday, Oct. 31, at the Palace Lounge, 147 W. Broadway. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets for the 18-and-up show are $10, available in advance at the Savoy, upstairs from the Palace.
Disco Bloodbath, the fifth annual electronic music and performance festival, is moving into downtown Missoula and spreading across five different venues this Halloween.
In prior years, the festival, which has drawn up to 4,000 people, was held on land in Missoula County near the Wye.
Several attempts to get a permit to hold it at a large facility in the city fell through, according to organizer Logan Foret of BFK Productions.
Last year, he'd planned to host it at the Hive, a large warehouse/community center on South Third Street West. The city denied the sound permit and the event was canceled.
And so this year, he's reshaped Disco Bloodbath as a multi-venue urban festival, in line with the DAT Conference electronic music gathering he co-founded two years ago.
This year, the venues are Stage 112 and the Real Lounge, both located in the Elks building, Monk's Bar over on Ryman Street, the VFW Post 209 on East Main, and a "Speaker Easy" room that will be announced on Halloween.
"The goal of this event and this company from the get-go was to expose people to different genres and different platforms of creativity. What better way than to do it downtown, where people are going to be wandering around going to every bar anyway?" Foret said.
A different promoter developed the line-up and feel for each room, which in total adds up to more than 50 DJs and artists.
While venues will be smaller, which may disappoint those who preferred the big-tent atmosphere out at the Y, he said the production values will still be high.
Missoula artist Amber Bushnell, for instance, is developing a light show for the Stage 112 show, which Foret described as an "insane 3-D mapping projection that looks like a Tetris set is eating the DJs."
"I'm really curious to see how this experiment works. I think it could grow into something really interesting," he said, rattling off future ideas like genre-specific venues for hip-hop, funk, jazz and more.
The VFW, for instance, has a line-up of local rock bands playing tribute sets. Holy Lands will have a set of Tom Waits tunes, ever appropriate for Halloween, Billings punk act Idaho Green will rip through some Dead Kennedys songs, and metal band Swamp Ritual will do a tribute to Kiss.
Tickets for the 18-and-up event are $10 in advance or $15 the day of the show.
For a complete schedule, more information or to buy tickets, go to http://on.fb.me/1R9Poro.
Over at the Top Hat, local funk/dance-based act Locksaw Cartel is throwing a "Hallo'Ween' " concert, in which they take on the humorous, heart-breaking and complex songs of Gene and Deen Ween.
Ruth Dada, who shares singing duties with Chris DuParri, said Ween is the one band everyone in Locksaw can agree on.
Plus, with their line-up, they can tackle most any of the tunes by the duo, who schizophrenically slide from genre to genre.
"We can pretty much cover anything we want," she said. In addition to Dada and DuParri on guitar and lap steel, the group comprises Tal Slaughter on bass, Matt Mischke on drums, percussion and vocals, and Ben Schuberg on keyboards, synthesizers, trumpet and flute.
Locksaw is a fitting group to try and tackle the songs. In addition to their flexible instrumental lineup, they name a wild number of inspirations, including Portishead, Billie Holiday, Clouddead, Miles Davis, Bill Frisell, Nirvana, Les Claypool and more.
And, of course, Ween.
"They heavily influenced a lot of my work, ever since I was 15," said Dada. "They're all over the place. ... Their writing never gets old, they never get stuck," she said.
Gene Ween, too, is the "greatest rock 'n' roll singer" of his generation, she said.
They have two sets planned for Saturday: One of their originals and then a 70-minute-plus set of Ween songs. The set list, naturally, is secret.
Doors at the Hat, 134 W. Front St., open at 9 p.m. and the show starts at 10. The concert is 21 and up, and the cover is $5. Anyone with a Ween tattoo gets in for free, Dada noted.
There are plenty of other options as well.
KBGA is holding its Halloween party at Free Cycles, 732 S. First St., with Shakewell (funk), the Skurfs (surf) and Letter B (folk/pop). The show starts at 7 and the cover is $10.
Local blues outfit Mudslide Charley is taking over Charlie B's, and the Missoula Winery is hosting a "Steampunk Ball," with live performances by Moksha Aerial Studio artisans, costume contests, and more. Go to http://on.fb.me/1N8N0lr for more information.
Over at the Broadway Bar, the annual Abduction bash will have two rooms with tribute acts Crack Sabbath, Guerrilla Radio and Swamp Ritual, plus DJs Aaron Traylor, the Dead Hipsters DJs and Nick Stasso. You can also catch performances by the MASC Artisans and the Dark Arts Bizarre. Tickets for the 21-and-up event are $15, and party-goers can catch a free ride from downtown on the Ghetto Gypsy.