Halloween in Detroit means multiple shows where members of local bands perform as their favorite groups. Last weekend at PJ's Lager House, a dozen acts play as the Breeders, Mudhoney, Ween, and more, for "Halloween Cover Show #7." This coming weekend, Oct. 23 and 24, Pontiackers will be treated to the Crofoot Ballroom's "Creepy Cheapy 8: Secret of the Ooze." I wouldn't take that title too literally, though. If there is any ooze, just stay far enough away from it to avoid its secrets.
Artists get super dressed up and into it at these things, as do audiences. The Crofoot's event is notable for including R&B and hip-hop in its arsenal — musics that do not seem to be a very large part of the tribute and cover band scene, which largely focuses on classic rock from the 1960s through to the 1980s. We spoke to a handful of the Detroit-based performers from this year's Creepy Cheapy to get a sense of how they might prepare.
Rock act Nina and the Buffalo Riders are set to perform as Joe Cocker this year. Guitarist Ryan Meadows points out that it's "difficult to pinpoint exact members that we are going as, as we are a female-fronted group and we are performing as a male-fronted group." "I suppose we are more emulating the energy, soul, harmonic and melodic value of the live record Mad Dogs and Englishmen," he says. "What we are doing is quite unique as with Mad Dogs weren't really a band, and the songs they did were mostly covers. And we are being joined by four insanely talented girls from the Rochester School of Rock."
"Essentially we are a band plus four girls we met at Melissa Rowe's DetXDet, performing as a singer joined by Delaney and Bonnie's (sometimes Eric Clapton and Duane Allman) band covering Beatles and Rolling Stones jams," Meadows says." "These songs carry a heavy sentimental weight for a lot of people. Music transcends time. These songs are timeless and they remind people that it's all about connection to a moment in life. This is going to be a phenomenal show with super talented people."
Rapper LoDeez is performing alongside his friend and fellow Detroit rapper Khary WAE Frazier; Frazier will be Dr. Dre, and LoDeez will become Snoop Dogg. "It's an honor to even act as a hip-hop legend," he says "I think Wae contacted me because I'm the only person who smokes as much as Snoop!" He's never performed other rappers' songs, but feels well-prepared. "I'm 32 so I know all Snoop's classics; I've been practicing 'Gin 'N' Juice' my whole life [laughs]."
The Messenger Birds are a duo who describe themselves as "fuzz rock"; they'll be playing as the Black Keys. "As far as costumes go, we really haven't had to put in much work," singer and guitarist Parker Bengry says. "The Black Keys wear very similar clothes to what we wear on a daily basis, so we just had to find outfits of theirs that we could emulate without just looking like we showed up without costumes. The Crofoot has always done a great job and has a ton of awesome people on staff who make this event happen. Last year's highlight for me was ANA covering Nirvana, so it will be cool to see them do the Foo Fighters this year."
Citizen Hero will be performing as Van Halen. Guitarist Sammy Boller says that "I'm going to be Eddie Van Halen. I think I can speak for all of us when I say we're going all out for this! I borrowed a striped up guitar to play and Josh is going to be in full on David Lee Roth regalia. It's going to be crazy. We've been practicing a lot too. We grew up on Van Halen and have wanted to play these songs live since we were kids, so we definitely want to play the best we possibly can.
Asked which song they intend to play that means the most to him, Boller replies with "Hot for Teacher."
"Our drummer John and I always soundcheck with it at shows and get cut off by nearly every single sound guy before the vocals kick in," he says. "It's become kind of a running joke for us. Getting to play it in its entirety at the Crofoot without the risk of the sound man pulling the plug is going be an experience I'll probably always remember."
Singer BevLove is excited to reprise her role as Nicki Minaj; she performed alongside Mic Phelps last year. "The highlight was everyone treating me like Nicki," she says. "People moved out of my way; the energy was so high in each room! I'm a huge fan of Nicki; she's the ultimate diva! I'm super proud of both her sexuality and her ability. My costume will be even better than last year's! And I've been rehearsing for a month."
Doors at 7 p.m.; 1 S. Saginaw, Pontiac; 248-858-9333; thecrofoot.com; $5.