The World/Inferno Friendship Society began October, the month that culminated in their yearly spectacle Hallowmas, on a positive note. Starting October 1, and following every day thereafter, bandleader Jack Terricloth released a reminiscence of one of his favorite bands from his youth, The Paranoid Style, and detailed his crush on the group's singer, Grace Talicious, the (first?) of his many crushes where he was "[her] younger man." Each day, the posts grew more and more vibrant, with Terricloth growing in excitement as he revealed how he got closer to the band and Talicious. Then, near the end of the month, less than a week before the show, just as Terricloth was about to reach out to Talicious and re-connect with her, she was struck dead by a car.
Apparently, the plans for Hallowmas were then aborted and instead, a viewing for Talicious was held instead on October 31, at Brooklyn's Warsaw Polish House. The band encouraged attendees to bring flowers, even a handpicked bouquet. In what I figured would me an act of utmost sincerity, I picked the last viable bunch of Dandelions from my garden, which had narrowly avoided the frost despite their cryonic deaths of their brothers, and headed towards Brooklyn for the wake.
The outside of the Warsaw was packed with attendees and the frightful sight of Talicious' hearse. To my dismay, I saw that only myself and one other fellow had brought flowers. Finally, we were let inside. Waiting for us, just beyond the door, was Grace's corpse, laying in a coffin, looking goth, with her fair skin, but quite life like. Next to her were Pallbearers and gentlemen handing out prayer cards. I signed the guest book and added what I figured would be the most fitting Rudimentary Peni lyric- the first track from The Underclass - said my good-byes to Grace, and set my flowers at the foot of her casket.
The stage was decorated with giant pumpkin at ether side. Before the first band took the stage, I helped myself the venue's specialty faire- genuine polish kielbasa and pierogies, and I'll tell you, it was tasty.
Soon after, the Shivering Brigade took the stage, dressed as the villains from Batman. A combination of early Poison Girls, east coast hardcore, and modern melodic hardcore, the band energized the crowd and displayed a promising mix of the old and the new.
Then, Ted Leo took the stage. Despite a valiant attempt, he couldn't seem to sway the audience's attention towards his performance, perhaps because, so many attendees were discussing Talicious' corpse and local gossip. Armed wth just a guitar, Leo started off with some solo tracks. But, because the volume of conversation was so loud, he had trouble cutting through the clutter. He then decided to play some Misfits tracks, echoing the famous TV Casualty set from Philadelphia from a few years ago. But, even the mighty power of Danzig, couldn't win over the full audience though a few converted. Leo finished his set with some more solo tracks that were well received by those who were watching, though, one could tell that he was disappointed that a good portion of the audience was engrossed in other endeavors.
Finally, after some time, World/Inferno took the stage. Surprisingly, instead of opening with their classic "Tattoos Fade," which opens nearly every, if not every show, the band cut right into tracks off their upcoming album, This Packed Funeral. Depsite Talicious' death, Terricloth, Malak, Landis and crew were in good spirits. Perhaps bolstered by the return of original contributor, Scott Hollingsworh, but the new songs slayed. A combination of the band's earliest neo-paganish violin swirl, with their classic swingin' 20's vibe, with their modern high velocity charging, the live versions of the songs featured everything that makes the band great- snappy melody, unexpected weirdness, and an anything can happen je ne sais quoi. The new album very well could their best to date.
The band then started playing the hits and a few rarities. "Velocity of Love" featured the band at their most soulful, with Terricloth's voice as smooth as every. "Brother of the Mayor of Bridgewater: found the band at their most reckless, blasting out dynamic riffs that called for gang vocals as much as any hardcore rager. As always, "Ich Errinere Mich An Weimar," with its references to WW2 and anarchism perfectly summed up the band.
Then, after a set which was over 150 minutes, an entire choir came out on stage. Talicious coffin was carried on stage as the choir sang out. Terricloth, with wine bottle in hand, retook the stage and delivered a heartfelt eulogy to his deceased love. Then, the band began to play "Pumpkin Time," a tune which the band only ever plays at Hallowmas and invokes the name of the great pumpkin, the guest of honor at every Hallowmas which is a pre-Christian entity that represents both rebirth and vengeance.
After a powerful build up, Terricloth drifted into the song's commanding chorus, "Why don't you rise me up?" As Terricloth continued the refrain, focusing on the coffin and making each word grow more bold, I genuinely expected Talicious to rise out of the coffin, alive and well, as a testament to the power that is the great pumpkin.
But, alas, she did not- she stayed dead, even as the band tour through an extended, explosive, fiery version of the song. Indeed, after the song erupted at the end of it's nine minute version, the coffin was carried off stage, Grace Talicious never to walk again.
I was puzzled by this, because, I thought for sure, being as that Hallowmas is the night where anything is possible, surely the Great Pumpkin would grant a boon upon a miscreant like Talicious. But, he did not. Was this a statement from that complex deity, that even though he can grant great gifts, he will not always? Was he angry that only myself and one other person had brought flowers as a tribute of sincerity, thus insulted at the audience's lack of gifts, and therefore decided not to grant a blessing? Was it a sign that magic does indeed exist, but it works in invisible ways, and cannot merely be described via the tangible? Was it that the Great Pumpkin was furious that things we be asked off him, on his day of tribute, when gifts, votives, and good will should be heaped on him, and not the other way around?!
I do not know but those questions shall haunt me for the rest of my days as surely as Grace Talicious is buried six feet down.