October 30, 2002

The World/Inferno Friendship Society "Hallowmass Live at Northsix"

The World/Inferno Friendship Society is a big-ass ska band. 'Ska' in the Weimar sense; it's more beer-hall and cabaret than two-tone or rude boy. They owe more of a debt to Soft Cell than they do to the Specials, though the connections to traditional ska are also quite evident. Still, it's best not to think of them as a band, but more of an exprience. A nine-piece band with chanteuses, piano pounders and a horn section from hell, they are led by the slick, sexy and dangerous gentleman of the world, Jack Terricloth.

Hallowmas Live at Northsix captures them performing on their favorite day of the year, October 31, 2002. It's a set that's really, really tight--filled with wonderful onstage dialogue and a set list that draws from their two excellent albums, their numerous singles, as well as a few brand new songs. The set covers serves justice to their entire past catalog, with several highlights coming from their most recent album, Just The Best Party. Personally, I'm most fond of "Just The Best Party," "I Wouldn't Want To Live In A World Without Grudges" and "Zen And The Art of Breaking Everything In This Room," simply because those are some of the funniest songs I've ever heard.

The only flaw that you could possibly find with Hallowmas Live At Northsix is that it's not quite the same thing as a live appearance. You don't get to see the band in their suits, you don't get to see the audience dressed up in costume, and the ambience of the evening seems to be lacking. Of course, those complaints are natural to any live album, but it's certainly even truer with a band like World/Inferno Friendship Society, who are more than just a band who are playing live. Case in point, the excellent set-closer "Pumpkin Time" loses a bit of its power, because you don't get to see Terricloth in full action onstage. (If you do want to see them live, then get thee to Digital Club Network's website, www.dcn.com--I'm pretty sure there's video of this show available.)

Complaints aside, I'm glad this record exists. It captures one of the best live bands in their natural environment, and the recording is superb. This is a really, really fun show, and if you need any incentive to go see them live, then this is it. With Halloween coming up at the end of the month, you've still got time to buy tickets to this year's show. If, like me, you can't make it out to see them, then this document is the next big thing. Play it at your next Halloween party or whenever you feel the need to be reminded of the darker side of life. Trick or treat!

--Joseph Kyle

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