Irvington, NY— Late last year, my friend Jon (without an h) told me his high school buddy John (with an h) was putting together a band to play Misfits and Danzig tunes for Porchella, the annual Halloween band crawl in Irvington, the town in New York’s Hudson Valley where John lives. John on drums and Jon on guitar. Did I want in? As anyone who has ever spent more than five seconds with me knows, fronting a Misfits cover band on Halloween has been a dream of mine for decades, so fuck yes, I was in. A short while later, Mike, another former schoolmate of theirs, was recruited to play bass, and Glenn and the Danzigs was born. With John in Irvington, Mike in LA, and Jon and me in Philly, we practiced separately for months, finally assembling as a quartet in Piermont, across the river from Irvington, the weekend before the show. The full band practiced for two days in an Airbnb walk-in closet.
When the big night arrived, it quickly became clear that Irvington’s Halloween game is strong. Thirteen bands across seven outdoor locations, impersonating U2, Judas Priest, the Smiths, Bikini Kill, and more. Adults and kids and delinquent teens all over the place, all in costume, ghouls in every form. Lest I ruin my singing voice, I had to stop myself from screaming along with Skooled, the School of Rock all-stars who opened for us, shredding classics from Alice in Chains, Dio, and Thin Lizzy. Given how much more talented they were than us, they probably shouldn’t have gone on first, but as our imaginary rider stipulates, Glenn and the Danzigs don’t play before sundown.
We had a decent-sized crowd of all ages with big smiles who were very vocally supportive, especially the handful of folks who actually knew the songs. The set went surprisingly smoothly, with minimal mistakes. Most fun I’ve ever had on a suburban driveway? Probably!
- Jon and I put together the set list, optimized for campy scares and catchy melodies normies could enjoy. We originally included songs from both Misfits and Danzig (one or two Samhain songs were briefly considered, too), but one by one the Danzig tunes all fell away, their wild guitar solos unable to compete with the intoxicating simplicity of the Misfits.
- To keep the geographically dispersed band on the same page, Jon made a Logic file of the set that everyone could refer to and play along with, using a magical plugin to split the original Misfits recordings into their constituent parts with remarkable clarity, allowing us to turn instruments and vocals on and off as needed.
- My friend Peter generously lent us a PA and monitors so Jon and I could play together at full volume in Jon’s practice space. Jon also filled out the space with a cheap drum kit, which we brought up to Irvington so John wouldn’t have to be seen in public with his electronic kit, which was decidedly not rock and roll. (At the end of the day, this project effectively gave Jon an excuse to transform his space into a half-decent recording studio.) Brett, an Irvington local, ran sound for us at the show, and his expertise and top-notch gear made us sound better than we had any business sounding.
- I’ve always had trouble with vocal stamina, coming away hoarse from many a karaoke night, but over the months of practicing for this gig, I finally learned how to sing the full set without wrecking my voice, giving each song as much as it needed and not more. At first, holding back made for a lackluster performance, but eventually I learned how to make halfway sound just as good as full bore. It still kind of blows my mind that my voice wasn’t completely worn out for the show after singing for several hours each of the two days prior. Practice makes perfect (or close enough, anyway), who knew?
- We had to change some lyrics to keep things family-friendly, which wound up being a fun in-joke for the Misfits fans in attendance. Unsurprisingly, “Angelfuck” and “Last Caress” had the most noticeable modifications. And for a few songs, I also got to learn some lyrics I somehow never knew before!
Here’s the final set list:
- Ghouls’ Night Out
- I Turned Into a Martian
- London Dungeon
- Some Kinda Hate
- Hybrid Moments
- Horror Hotel
- Astro Zombies
- American Nightmare
- 20 Eyes
- Last Caress
- Night of the Living Dead
In conclusion, this was a blast! And now that we’ve laid the groundwork, Jon and I hope to find a local rhythm section and do it again sometime in Philly. So keep your ear to the ground the next time the spooky season rolls around.