There are still a lot of people who believe that celebrating Halloween in Australia is basically heresy. Personally, I’m a fan and I don’t really care what you think (well not you, but… you know). Clearly neither do Philadelphia Grand Jury who brought their Summer of Doom tour to Howler for the gloriously titled Howlerween.

I instantly notice cobwebs, skeletons and other miscellaneous ‘spooky shit’ adorning the walls, mic stands, keyboards and drums, while illuminated at the back of the stage sits an inflatable pumpkin with three ghosts escaping from the top. The Philly Jays are setting up, and I’m briefly concerned that all three of them are wearing their ‘guy in rock band’ costumes. They leave the stage and, as the lights dim, they return in costumes that don’t disappoint: MC Bad Genius as a jester, Berkfinger as a bumblebee and Dan W Sweat as a carrot.

As MC Bad Jester struggles to get his bass on over his enormous hat, Bee-finger hits play on the first track of their signature pre-recorded banter before busting into ‘Ready To Roll’. They follow it up with a new song, banking on the inertia of the explosive opener, and it the energy in the crowd stays high. In third track ‘I’m Gonna Kill You,’ MC Bad Genius (sans jester hat) makes his way into the crowd, aggressively singing into the face of a thrilled fan.

The audience has an insane energy and I observe some guys form a bond over knowing the words, shaking hands with each other before screaming the lyrics in each others’ faces. A new song kicks in and they abandon all social convention and pick up their air instruments, clearly the drinks they were nursing doing their job. The new song does sound amazing though and I’m totally with them. Well not physically, but it’s definitely got an addictive groove.

Clearly not fans of fake encores, Berkfinger doesn’t even leave the stage at the ‘end’ of the set, while MC Bad Genius and Dan W Sweat duck off for just a minute. Berkfinger heads out to get amongst the crowd for ‘Save Our Town,’ feeling the love while MC Bad Genius handles everything on the keys. Not much about their show has changed since the last time I saw them, so many years ago, except now when Berkfinger’s out in the crowd, everyone’s phone (mine included) are out and in his face. They keep the feeling almost nostalgic and close the show with their amazing cover of ’99 Problems’ before the rest of the band come down into the crowd to socialise. Just as I’m making my way out the door I get a hug from Dan W Sweat, definitely living up to his surname, and it’s pretty much the perfect end to an amazing night.

Wes Fahey

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