9:30 Halloween features South Africans, men in drag, energetic Anberlin show
It’s 10:30 in the morning on Sunday, Oct. 31 and aside from some roadies, there isn’t a soul outside D.C.’s 9:30 club save AU students Sophie Wilmot and her friend Tatianna Wiegand-Stuart waiting impatiently for the Anberlin show starting at 5:30 p.m. with openers Civil Twilight and Crash Kings.
Wilmot, a huge Anberlin fan, said she was early to make rail.
“They’re my favorite band,” she added. It may come as a surprise that someone who has only been a fan of the band for approximately four months could be so avid about something, but Wilmot unabashedly reveals that she “goes at things very intensely.”
The moment she saw Anberlin play at the D.C. Chili Cook-Off this past summer, Sophie was hooked.
“[It’s] their energy, mostly… I fell in love because they’re so good live.” Sophie said as she squinted in the glaring sunlight as several roadies donned Halloween costumes in preparation of getting into the Halloween spirit.
When the doors opened at 4:30 p.m., that’s when some of the more crazed fans began to show up to the sold-out show. There was Jasmine from Disney’s “Aladdin,” a butcher rabbit, a werewolf and even a deadmau5.
Perhaps because of cultural differences, South African opener Civil Twilight were not in costume. Their energy, while entertaining, was not enough to keep their performance from feeling slow — their sound being somewhat a cross between Carolina Liar and Muse.
Following Civil Twilight was Los Angeles-based Crash Kings, who shook things up by performing in drag with a sign onstage that renamed them “Crash Queens.” The Crash Kings had a more pop-y sound than Civil, with slight undertones of jazz and cabaret, turning the energy up and ending their set with a lively cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.”
Then, the lights went out and the five main members of Anberlin came on to the stage to an impressive light display. With white cloth bags over their heads with cut-out eye holes and sharpie-drawn mouths in allusion to the horror flick “The Strangers,” they opened their performance with “We Owe This To Ourselves,” a single from their new album “Dark is the Way, Light is a Place.”
The crowd immediately went insane, jumping up and down, fist pumping and screaming the lyrics to the song. The raw energy was palpable — lead singer Stephen Christian was all over the stage and rhythm guitarist Christian McAlhaney was particularly vivacious in his playing.
The intensity picked up as Anberlin went into their next song “Paperthin Hymn,” where the crowd surfing and moshing began, something not frequently seen at their shows but revealed some of their roots in the hardcore scene. At one point, Stephen leapt from the stage to stand on top of a barricade, belting the song to the audience. The band ended their set with New Surrender’s “Feel Good Drag” — which holds the record as the longest-charting single in modern rock — before walking off and then promptly returning for an encore.
Unexpectedly, during “*fin,” their encore song, singer Stephen Christian left the stage and the band soon followed, after carrying out the rest of the instruments. While the ending was abrupt, Anberlin’s high energy and pure talent made for a spectacular Halloween show.