Words by: Gloria Velez
Photos by: Workhorse Studios
Halloween Meltdown spin-off to its summer time counterpart, “Mosswood Meltdown” (Formally Burger Boogaloo), thrown by Total Trash Productions and hosted by the “Pope of Trash” him self, John Waters, returned to Oakland’s Mosswood Park to kick off October with some spooky punk festivities.
The two day music festival with a halloween twist and a D.I.Y. feel, served up a stellar line up with headlining acts like Amyl and the Sniffers, Shannon and The Clams, The Spits, Lydia Lunch and Kid Congo Powers. The festival also featured a Haunted House designed by local musician and horror artist, Rob Fletcher and costume contest where attendees got a chance to win a $500 prize. Keeping in the Halloween Meltdown spirit all weekend, festival-goers and local music lovers stayed busy with a series of perfectly curated afterparties that sold out night after night. The afterparties, lead by Bay Area lo-fi garage punk legends The Mummies, and thrown at Oakland’s historic dive The Stork Club, where the perfect add on to the already fun weekend of Halloween Meltdown.
Excited to be back in Oakland with fellow music ghouls, I was ready for a fun weekend of Halloween Meltdown’s music extravaganza. Arriving to the festival dressed to the nines in my costume and making my way through the diverse crowd of young and old music loving misfits, the festival’s attendees, were definitely giving off a bit of a laid back vibe. Feeling a bit overdressed in my costume amongst the crowds “relaxed” look of tight black levi’s jeans, lived in band shirts and perfectly aged leather jackets, I couldn’t help but laugh to my self at the fact that I was not surprised of the crowds vibe. Keeping in good spirits and ready for some live music, I rocked out my costume, made my way to the festival’s V.I.P. beer garden and shook up the mood with a few drinks.
The festival cruised through the afternoon with sets by The Bugs, Fake Fruit, Body Double, and Warm Drag. Pumped up with excitement, myself and the wild crowd were ready for legendary garage punk Kid Congo Powers.
Kid Congo Powers, The garage rock legend known for playing in iconic bands like The Gun Club, The Cramps and Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, brought rock-royalty-energy to this year’s lineup. Hitting the stage with his band, Powers served up his playful but classic rock’n roll sound that had the crowd “jamming” along as they jumped and clapped to his songs like “Chandelier”. Powers, bringing the perfect energy to the festival’s afternoon and leaving the crowd energized with his set, left the crowd ready for Demolition Doll Rods.
Detroit’s 3-piece garage glam rock legend’s Demolition Doll Rods, known for their truly sick spectacle of primitive and perverse Freedom Rock, hit the stage with full force! Lead vocalist and goddamn rock n’roll queen Margaret Doll Rod (dressed in a black vinyl two-piece) kept the crowd fully immersed with her back-bending, punt-kicking dance moves as she severed up raw vocals over the band’s loud, distorted guitar riffs. Matching her energy on stage, band mates Danny Kroha (The Gories, Danny and the Darleans) and Shelby Murphy on drums, made them the perfect rock trio keeping their set 100% electric from beginning to end. The band ended their set on a high note with their cover of the Stooges “T.V. Eye” and left the crowd extremely pleased with their performance.
The sun slowly disappeared into the horizon to help set the tone perfectly for the next act… Lydia Lunch, singer, songwriter, actress, poet, and over all avant-garde artist. Spawned from New York’s no-wave music scene of the 70’s with her band “Teenage Jesus & the Jerks” brought some new exciting energy to this years Halloween Meltdown lineup. Lunch backed by her band, Retrovirus, graced us with her perfectly un-perfect classic raspy vocals of provocative, confrontational lyrics as her band set the tone with their messy noise rock sound. Embracing the crowd in her classic self-empowering charisma, Lunch’s berating antics kept the crowds full attention. Living up to why she is continues to be a influential/impactful artist, Lunch left everyone basking in her No-Wave queen eminence.
Changing up the mood with the next act was The Spits. Old School garage punk heroes, The Spits, known for serving up their mordant humor, brought in one of the biggest crowds of the day. The Spits who describes themselves as “Punk for the people” continue to put on wild, noisy, dirty punk rock shows that draw in a loyal fucking following and their set at Halloween Meltdown 100% delivered. Hitting the stage hard with their fast, loud, gritty synth/garage punk sound, The Spits instantly sent the packed crowd into a stage-diving, body-slamming frenzy! Chugging beers and churning out the hits, The Spits had the crowd going crazy with their infectious fun live energy. The band left the crowd pumped the fuck up and ready for Night 1’s headliners, Amyl and the Sniffers.
Closing Saturday night of Halloween Meltdown was Aussie pub/punk rock band, Amyl and the Sniffers. Returning to Mosswood park after making their Meltdown debut back in 2019, Amyl and the Sniffers Continue to emerge on the music scene with their fresh but raw punk sound, leaving tonight’s crowd excited to have them back in Oakland. As the band hit the stage, lead singer, Amy Taylor (dressed up in a bright orange furry tiger stripped 2 piece), went straight into getting their punk show started, serving up her fearlessly raw vocals, as the band delivered its fast, punchy powerhouse energy with each song. Playing newer hits like “Looking for Love” and “Guided by Angels” the crowd-surfing, slam-dancing audience gave everything to the band. As the night stared to come to an end, Amyl and the Sniffers proved to be the perfect headliner, leaving festival goers like myself reeling and looking forward to more with the next day of haunted shenanigans.
Still feeling the afterglow from the epic lineup the day before and fun night of The Mummies afterparties… festival-goers returned to Mosswood park ready for more! The festival, also hosting its costume contest later in the day, brought in a lot more dressed-up attendees, making the crowd a bit more fun to interact with over compliments and conversations about all the creative get-ups! Making a mental note to myself for next year… now I know that the day to go all-out with your costume at Halloween Meltdown is the day of the costume contest… Noted! Taking advantage of the (short lived) calm at the start of the day, I made some time to explore the festival’s mix of local record, clothing and food vendors and band merch tables. One of the best ways I love to show my support for a band or local small business at a show is to BUY MERCH. Finding some cool merch dibs and doing a quick walk through of the festival’s Haunted House… I left in a festive mood and ready to catch some live music but most of all really excited to check out the next band I’v been hearing so much about… NIIS!
Ready to tear into the afternoon was LA’s up and coming punk band, NIIS! Lead by vocalist Mimi SanDoes (a Bay Area native and former meltdown festival volunteer), NIIS with their energetic, aggressive sound, fusing elements of hardcore and 80’s punk, had the afternoon crowd taking in all the energy from their performance. SanDoe served up their fiery vocal’s and powerful stage presence with song’s like “Fuck You Boy” left the crowd in a full-on chaotic but blissful mosh pit. Making such a huge impact with their live performance, Niis proved to be a highlight to the afternoon’s lineup.
Changing up the vibe of the afternoon was Portland based psych, punk band, Spoon Benders. Serving up some mind-bending punk, the band drawing inspiration for The Stooges and Black Sabbath with their perfect classic dark hazy rock sound, kept the festival afternoon good energy going with their set.
Bursting onto the indie music scene in the 80’s and back into our hearts this afternoon with her animating energy was New Wave icon Josie Cotton. Cotton, looking amazing in her hot pink wig and 60’s space theme silver dress and sparkly cape, had the crowd going crazy with one festival attendee hula-hooping to the music. Bopping around the stage with her tatted-up, cheeky “boyfriend” backup dancer and playing classics like “Johnny, Are You Queer” and “He Could be the One”, Cotton kept true to her new wave roots and retro charm.
Up next was Philly based garage rock and punk band, Sheer Mag. Describing themselves as “a gang of punks with a not-so-secrect love of seventies classic rock”, lead powerhouse vocalist Tina Halladay hit the stage running with an early evening set. Halladay’s flawlessly-sharp, raspy vocals soared alongside the band’s 70’s inspired guitar riffs and lo-fi garage rock sound, got the crowd moving with songs’s like “Nobody’s Baby”.
Taking the stage next was the Bay Area’s stoner rock band, Fuzz. This power trio made up of Ty Segall on drums, Charles Moothart on guitar and Chad Ubovich on bass, set the tone perfectly for the festival’s evening vibes. The band jammed out onstage, bringing their loud garage-psych-metal sound to life, until every member of Fuzz looked and sounded completely in their element.
Closing out the festival was Oakland’s beloved hometown band, Shannon and the Clams. The Clams all looked amazing, dressed up in costumes, for a special set. The band were working through a freshly recent tragedy but kept in beautiful great spirits that had everyone in the audience so grateful to see them play. Lead by vocalist and bassist Shannon Shaw, who’s voice has been compared to the likes Etta James, the Clams with their retro garage surf rock, R&B and doo-wop sound, won us over with an epic performance. Shannon Shaw brought the biggest and most deserving highlight to the whole weekend by gracing the stage, singing and continuing to smile despite the pain she was going through.
Halloween Meltdown embraced an array of underground music with the perfect mix of classic and fresh musical acts. Total Trash productions continues to create the perfect cult gathering for its crowd of music loving misfits, leaving us all excited to see what they have in store for next year.