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Annual trick of playing covers works a treat
By Brian Offenther

SHANGHAI has a music community, and like any community, it is defined substantially by its rules.

One of those rules: Cover bands can only go so far. Sure, Shanghai has its share of cover bands - classic hard rock and metal lovers T.N.T. is a notable example - but they exist on the periphery, the suburban part of town that's comfortable but less vibrant than the bustling center.

Even bands in styles that lean heavily on covers, like the blues, can only achieve so much without the static of skepticism. Then again, the blues isn't the most vibrant genre around here anyway, but that's another story.

Like every community that thrives on being truly artistic, alternative or rebellious, many music people would love to tell you that there are no rules. Of course, that is ridiculous. A promoter who isn't fair with money will be effectively kicked out; a band that repeatedly plays too long on stage will be ostracized; people who are overly negative about others in the community will lose their relevance.

But the cover band rule? That one's special. It's unique in that it has a set time when it can be violated, that allows artists to indulge in giving in that all too human desire to mock up like someone you admire and do your damnedest impression.

When's that? Halloween, of course. Well, or sometime close to it, at least.

And so the "2012 Halloween Tribute" takes place on Saturday from 9pm at rock club Yuyintang (851 Kaixuan Rd, by Yan'an Rd W.). Entrance is 40 yuan (US$6.4).

The Halloween tribute is an popular event at Yuyintang and always draws a big crowd, many dressed to the nines in Halloween costumes.

On stage this year will be four local bands, each dedicating their performance to a specific act. Hard rock act The Fever Machine will be performing the "stoner rock" of Queens of the Stone Age; metal duo Death to Giants will cover alternative metal band System of a Down; new group Guo Shen will perform the classic metal of Black Sabbath; and the pop rock Hello Money will perform the songs of alternative stalwarts Weezer.

This annual event is a way for the community to subvert the norm, and more importantly, laugh at itself. In the past, many of the covers performances have been interesting. Then again, many of them have flopped.

Some of the performers have dressed the part, donning outfits of the bands they're covering. Other times the band members seem too gleefully inebriated to put in that effort. Either way on both counts, it's all in fun.

This event is the exception that proves the rule. It's a chance for people to dress up. Whether intricately prepared or off the cuff, it's all for laughs. It all adds up to Halloween.

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