published Thursday, November 1st, 2012

In Tune: Odd shows make for one memorable weekend

When it comes to nightlife, there are some evenings when the stars align in crooked patterns to create unforgettable experiences. Last week, I experienced three in a row.

It started Thursday with the Subterranean Cirqus show at JJ's Bohemia. Given that they feature burlesque dancing, feats of strength and balloons popped with a whip, it's pretty much a given that a Cirqus gig won't be run-of-the-mill.

As the openers for Asheville, N.C.-based punk cabaret trio Hellblinki, the Cirqus cast was a few rings short of full-on crazy, but even a subdued sideshow is pretty out of the ordinary.

Things only got stranger Friday at Hallowcon, a fantasy/horror convention in Dalton, Ga., at which my band was scheduled to perform.

About an hour before downbeat, the lights started flickering, the fire alarm went off and everyone was evacuated as the room filled with the acrid smell of smoke. Within minutes, a fleet of fire trucks arrived to tend to a man who was severely burned after an unfortunate encounter with the building's breaker board.

The incident left the hotel without power and a parking lot full of fairies, pirates and monsters, which was as surreal as it was intimidating to those of us who were providing the evening's entertainment.

But the show must go on, and everyone adjusted admirably. Mobile generators were offered, and libations and instruments were retrieved from where they had been abandoned inside the now-dark building.

After a few songs, we were given the all-clear to go back inside, where we played acoustically by candlelight. The conditions were hardly ideal, but the intimacy of being cheek and jowl with the audience made it all the better. Also, it was a horror convention, so maybe the candlelight was apropos.

By the time I arrived at Rhythm & Brews for The Communicators' "Pulp Fiction" show Saturday, I was feeling hard to impress, but I was wrong.

Wherever they stored all the stops they pulled out to put on such a dynamic, over-the-top show, it must have made quite a pile. Considering the moving parts involved -- live actors, two amazing openers and a twist contest -- it was miraculous that they pulled it off at all, much less with such black-suited pizzazz.

After three consecutively amazing evenings, I consider the bar raised, but if you want to share your Halloween shenanigans, shoot me an email and we'll compare notes.

Contact Casey Phillips at or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @Phillips CTFP.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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