What do musicians dress up as for Halloween?
For many in Olympia, the answer is “other musicians.”
The Olympia Film Society’s annual Night of the Living Tribute Bands invites the musically talented among us not to simply dress like a favorite musician, but to play like one, too.
This year’s concert-costume party, happening Saturday, will have performances by tribute bands for The Specials, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Beastie Boys, They Might Be Giants, the Pixies, Iron Butterfly and Queens of the Stone Age.
Storyteller/actress Elizabeth Lord, who hosts and produces Lord Franzannian’s Royal Olympian Spectacular Vaudeville Show, will host.
Musician or not, everyone is invited to dress for the occasion. The best costume will win a pair of passes to the 30th annual Olympia Film Festival, which begins Nov. 8.
Saturday night’s bands pay tribute for one night only. Real tribute bands are not allowed to participate, although some tribute bands double as real bands when the masquerade is over.
This year’s lineup is heavy on groups that got their start in the late ’70s or ’80s. The outliers are Iron Butterfly (too old) and Queens of the Stone Age (too new).
Just how does a musician pick whom to be for Halloween? Read on.
“I love them a lot, and I thought it would be really fun to do a tribute show to them,” said Dan Fajans, who’ll play Mike D from the Beastie Boys. “I love rap music and after producing and performing at rap shows for so many years, I have found that 95 percent of rappers, even good ones, are terrible, boring performers.
“The Beasties were great on record and even better live. Their style is totally unique; I can’t think of a single current group who does the kind of interlocking rhyme style they did. They definitely didn’t invent that style, but they brought it to a huge audience.
“Mostly, it just seemed like it would be really fun, and that has indeed been the case.”
Past history: This is Fajans’ first time at Night of the Living Tribute Bands.
Regular gig: Fajans is part of Never Sleep and also records and performs solo.
On the set list: “Fight for Your Right to Party”
SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES
“All members of the tribute are big-time Siouxsie fans,” said Joel Shillander, who’ll play John Valentine Carruthers. “In fact, some of us have been listening to Siouxsie faithfully for 25-plus years. The level of musicianship and creativity of their music has served as inspiration to us.”
There was one challenge that stopped this tribute from happening sooner: finding the right Siouxsie Sioux.
“We really hit the jackpot when we found Lizeta (Walker),” he said, “and we all honestly feel that we were bound together by fate, which lends itself graciously to creating a magical chemistry between us.”
Past history: Shillander was part of The Cure tribute band last year. Other members of the band have performed in past shows, too, including as part of Cheap Trick, The Clash and Bauhaus.
Regular gig: “The Siouxsie project has brought us together,” Shillander said. After Saturday, the band — under the name Arabian Knights — will turn its focus to original material.
On the set list: “I don’t wish to spoil the show by announcing our set list,” Shillander said, “but I can tell you it will fit quite nicely within the Halloween theme.”
THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS
“They have been my favorite band since I was a teenager, and when I was presented with the opportunity to do this, I jumped on it,” said Wylie Van Wenger, who’ll play John Linnell, the keyboard player. John Manini will play guitarist John Flansburg.
Past history: Lots. Van Wenger was in the Devo tribute band last year and also has been in AC/DC, The Cars, Led Zeppelin, Duran Duran and The B-52s tributes. And he’s hosted twice — once as Mitch Hedberg and once as Richard Nixon.
Regular gig: Manini was the original drummer for Van Wenger’s Glass Elevator.
On the set list: “We’ll be doing the early years, when it was just John and John with a tape machine,” Wenger said. “Imagine TMBG in 1989.”
Night of the Living Tribute Bands
What: The Olympia Film Society’s annual Halloween party includes tributes to The Specials, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Beastie Boys, They Might Be Giants, the Pixies, Queens of the Stone Age and Iron Butterfly.
When: 8:30 p.m. Saturday, with doors open at 8
Where: Capitol Theater, 206 Fifth Ave. SE, Olympia
Tickets: $10 general admission, $8 for film society members; online, at Rainy Day Records and at the box office the night of the show
More information: 360-754-6670 or olympiafilmsociety.org
Also: It’s an all-ages show with beer and wine available on the mezzanine for those 21 and older