As the autumn chill falls down upon Sonoma County, a collection of freaks and performing ghouls will rise up seemingly from nowhere to take over the Whiskey Tips in the true wild spirit of Halloween. That’s right; it is again time for Halloweird, A North Bay Cabaret Experience.
Just how weird? How about body modification performance, loop pedal accordion beat box, arthouse cello, dueling silent discos and live punk swing?
Halloweird is a costume party, variety show, date night, drinking bash held annually at Santa Rosa’s Whiskey Tip, every local artist’s favorite bar for abandon.
Max Madame, renowned “pussy artist,” and partner Charlie Thargic have a reputation for performing incomprehensibly intimate body modification acts together. “They’ll actually be sewing their bodies together,” event organizer Jake Ward told me when we discussed the night’s festivities. Using needles, you understand.
Ward is the proprietor of North Bay Events, which hosts the North Bay Cabaret. The formally monthly cabaret has been largely shuttered since COVID, with the most recent show being last Halloween’s Halloweird. The event is a labor of love for Ward. “I want to book the types of performers and put together the type of show that I would want to see, you know?” he said.
“It is a Halloween party, and people kind of go all out. [In the past], we’ve had strong attendance of people in really great costumes,” said Ward.
There will be prizes for best costumes and a photobooth to share the wackiness on social media. Printed photostrips will be given out on the spot for free as keepsakes.
The evening starts with a variety show running from 7 to 10pm and including the body art of Madame and Thargic. More than a dozen acts will inspire and thrill, including death-defying acts of pole dancing and spoken word.
Cellista will play the cello during the variety show in a way you have never, ever heard, with samples and post-punk sensibility rooted in the deep-to-squeak range of what remains the coolest of stringed instruments.
Jet Black Pearl is a comedic accordion and flute player from Amsterdam who uses loops and beatboxing to mesmerize audiences.
When the variety show ends at 10, live music and the silent disco kick off. Inside the bar, East Bay swing punks Van Goat, described as both upbeat and gritty like their home town of Oakland, are followed by local legends The Crux, a folk punk gospel outfit known for changing lives with their theatrical audacity.
A neighborhood vendor will be selling pupusas, tacos and the like, while, outside, three different DJs will be holding silent discos. Dancers can check out headphones, dial up the DJ they like—funk, EMD, hip-hop—and boogie in blissful connection with other dancers, often to the bewildered amusement of onlookers. The headphones will have color-coded lights, so revelers can find others on their same wavelength. Literally.
Halloweird commences Saturday, Oct 29 at the Whiskey Tip in Santa Rosa. Tickets are $40 at the door or $30 for presale at the Whiskey Tip, the Next Record Store and NorthBayEvents.com.