Even though Scenic Presents brought World/Inferno Friendship Society and Choking Victim to the Warsaw to play their own separate and distinct shows, this year’s Hallowmas still seemed like day two of one hell of a Halloween weekend festival that Stza and the crack rock steady originators kicked off Sunday night. Many of the people in attendance for Hallowmas had come out the night before, the execution of the music came with the same overall aesthetic, there were members of the previous night’s bands out in the audience, and there were even a few cameo appearances onstage by the previous night’s headliner.
Though the festival feel may not have been a conscious decision by the bands or their promoter, after watching it go down it seems all but inevitable. WIFS’s fanbase is deeply intertwined with Choking Victim’s, and the bands are great friends. The way WIFS frontman Jack Terricloth gleefully called out Leftover Crack for playing on October 30th instead of the real Halloween was like a younger brother catching his older brother listening to Simple Plan and telling his friends about it.
And the family metaphor held strong throughout the evening, because as much as Hallowmas is a concert, it’s also a yearly tradition. Before the bands started playing, there were people chitchatting about how many years in a row they had come and old friends seeing each other for the first time since last year’s World/Inferno Friendship Society extravaganza.
There were even two separate tributes to a fallen family member, folk punk poet laureate Erik Petersen of Mischief Brew, whose widow Denise Lynn was in attendance. Opener Guignol played their band’s collaboration with Mischief Brew “Fight Dirty”, and toward the end of the evening six people led by Stza and Choking Victim bassist Alec Baillie carried jack-o-lanterns out into the moshpit that spelled E-R-I-K-P in lights.
However somber the cast lent by Petersen’s midsummer loss, Hallowmas was not a night of regret so much as one to celebrate the family that remains. Minutes before WIFS took the stage their faithful audience began cheering in unison “Tonight / we’re gonna / fuck shit up,” and seconds before the eight-piece folk performance collective arrived the insatiable crowd began informing Terricloth and his co-hooters that “We know” — to which one audience member who has haunted more than their fair share of World/Inferno shows (and even once got ejected from a WIFS show while wearing a pinstripe suit) responded, “I had no fucking idea.”
Regardless of whether that World/Inferno ghost was being sarcastic or not, I had no fucking idea that WIFS was about to put on one of the most energetic two-hour performances I have ever seen. I have been present and counted at some truly memorable concerts in my life, whether it was Radiohead headlining Coachella, Pretty Lights’ first Bonnaroo, or that one time I caught the Flaming Lips while tripping my face off on some of the best LSD I’ve ever tried. And I tell you catching the World/Inferno Friendship Society on their home turf at the Warsaw on their big night Hallowmas can go toe-to-toe with any of those events.
Terricloth was in rare form, all decked out in a tuxedo, leading his band of weirdos in front of a crowd of even bigger weirdos. The crowd moshed, waltzed, mosh-waltzed, and stage dived while the ghoulish crooner threw everything he had at them; no matter how hard he went, all the crowd wanted was more. And more was just what they got when Stza jumped onstage to sing backup vocals for the grand finale.
Guignol went on just before World/Inferno, and for a band that hasn’t gotten on a stage in years they sounded terrific. The night’s opener was Philly-based pop-punkers Teenage Halloween.