Costuming a band

Halloween gig and don’t know what to wear?
Halloween party gigs can be a lot of fun! Party gigs are always great as a band (the things you see……) and getting to go in costume is even better. Unless, of course, you’re KISS and already dress up….then this lens isn’t for you :). Here are some ideas and tips for dressing up the whole band!

A warning about fire.
Costumes can be a bit of a pain in the tail to deal with, so the last thing you need to worry about is how safe the costume is.

If you have *any* kind of pyrotechnics in your show, PLEASE do not wear anything flammable. A lot of the cheap costumes will just MELT to you if they either catch on fire or get too close to a heat source. Capes are a big one-the fabric is thin and stand too close to a sparkler and POOF….you have a very hot costume. Don’t have feather boas, feathers, fringe, hanging attached pieces, cardboard, any type of paper, you get the picture. Better yet, skip the pyrotechnics. If you really love the pyrotechnics, go on youtube and look up “Station Nightclub Fire”. Personally, after seeing that video, I’ll never be in a club with any kind of pyrotechnics, I don’t care how much the gig pays. I won’t even go to a show that uses pyrotechnics indoors!

Keep in mind those tiki torches a lot of places use are open fire-don’t walk too near one, espically if you’re wearing a wig, unless you want to be like Michael Jackson.

On that note, please check your exits and keep them clear. Have a clear path OUT-sometimes a gig can get a little rough, and on Halloween night the level of mischief can be rather high. Please don’t play any place that locks the exit doors…..check the alley and make sure it’s clear…..make sure you can get out if something happens, and not out through the crowd. Think about what you’d do if a panic happens or a crowd gets too rowdy, before it happens. If in doubt about a situation, get out.

Okay, I’m off my soapbox. Please go watch the video if you think “that’ll never happen to my band” and keep yourselves safe on Halloween.

Costumes and playing
Okay, so you and the band have a great gig and have the fire extinguishers packed and ready :). When you’re planning your costume, keep in mind some problems that may arise when you have to play in dress up.

You will want to keep your vision clear-you may know the fretboard backwards, but unless you’re used to playing in the dark having your view of your guitar blocked by a mask can be a little unnerving. If you’re a singer, being able to see the microphone is always a good thing! Drummers and keyboardists have it tricky too-you’d be amazed at how often you look at your kit or keys. Try playing with the costume on-my group wore ours at a rehearsal before a gig just in case and immediatly found some problems that would have made our gig miserable!

Singers (backup singers too!), avoid masks that have protruding noses or mouth coverings. You’ll spend all night boinking your nose on the mic (trust me!) if you have one. Anything covering your mouth makes you sing like…….well…….your mouth is covered!

Gloves-forget it. Unless you cut out the fingers. Even then, unless you are used to playing with them, you’ll end up taking them off by first break! I went as a wolf one year and the costume came with paw gloves……they looked cool……I ended up sticking them on my feet and they worked perfectly!

Full body animal suits-you will probably not be happy, no matter what you play. They get realllllly hot realllly fast, and you look rather funny playing without the head after you end up taking it off! Our drummer one year went as a giant bunny, bunny head lasted about 5 minutes, although we did find out the two wheel dolly works perfectly as a head holder.

Capes and guitars-check to make sure you can put your guitar on over/under the cape and that it doesn’t end up pulling on your neck all night and choking you. If you can get a cape that attaches at the shoulders rather than around the neck, make sure the snaps aren’t under your straps (ow!). Also keep in mind if you’re outside and the wind is blowing from behind your cape can get in the way.

Workarounds
So you realllllllly want to be a certain figure and they usually wear a mask or gloves?

Well, that’s why they have facepaint! You can wear a partial mask and then color the parts of your face that show with a good grease paint type makeup. Please see my lens Band Being Blue Man Group for how we used grease paint on our whole faces.

Keep in mind if you rub your face (or are like me and tend to wipe your sweat off on your sleeves) you’ll end up covered in paint. Also watch out you don’t touch your face then your equipment…..dead strings anyone? Set the makeup well (using babypowder as described in my other lens) and bring extra for touchups. If you sweat profusely you may want to skip the full face facepaint.

As for gloves……you can get cheap winter ones and cut the fingers out. I spraypainted my hands brown when I went as a wolf, although it’s probably not a good idea to get spraypaint on yourself like that. I should’ve used brown gloves and just ignored my pale fingertips :).

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Ideas for the whole band
Now that you’re out of ideas :) here’s some things to consider!

Blue Man Group (see my lens Band Being Blue Man Grou )-this one’s fun and cheap, black clothing, a skull cap, some facepaint and plastic paint, viola!

Group of Cats (stray cats?)-tails and ears are easy to find, you can use just about any kind of clothing, facepaint, and meow! Modify the idea to be sexy cats (if you’re an all girl group), beat up cats (torn clothes, tear an ear), or anything!

KISS or any other band along those lines-obvious but fun…….Village people anyone? Espically if you’re a punk band?

Fairy Tale-We went as Little Red Riding Hood……wolf mask was easy to find, grandma wore a Goodwill robe (very easy to play in) and bare feet (great for players that never wear shoes while playing), little red riding hood already had red clothes.

Black eyed Peas-Blacken your eyes, wear a shirt with a giant P on it……or dress in all green with black eyes…….

Ghostbusters-jumpsuits are also easy to play in. You can prop the proton packs all around the stage.

Zombies/Mummies-faithful Halloween choices, more fun in a gang!

Adams family-works best with a mixed group of musicians

Brady Bunch-make the guys be the girls!

Wizard of Oz-Tin Man might be tricky, but the others are easy! Make sure lion can breathe!

Superheroes-Everybody pick one!

Hopefully this list got you thinking!

Don’t forget the stage!
Dress your stage up too! Colored Christmas type light strings are easy and cheap to find and don’t get you all sweaty like spotlights. I’ve used the LED types for dozens of gigs and have never had a breakage or interferance problem. Stay away from flourescent type lights, they can make equipment buzz. Also avoid blacklights, they get *really* hot (see fire…..)

Halloween props are all over in the dollar stores, everyone chip in 5 bucks and you can get a ton of goodies! Cobwebs, fake rats, hang a bat off the mic stand, perch a raven on a cymbal stand!

Decorated stages (even if it’s just a corner of a seedy club) really add to the show and don’t cost much!

Now go play!
And stay safe! I hope this little lens gave you some ideas :) Happy Halloween! And don’t drink and drive……gig bags make good pillows in an emergency (the soft ones!)…….

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