Two-night 'Hallopolis' will haunt Norman with Halloween-themed music 

A sellout event two years in a row, Norman's "Hallopolis" conjures a cauldron of indie sonic spirit that has boiled over to a second night of Halloween fun.


Norman rockers Evangelicals and local DJ party crew Dance Robots, Dance! will headline the 9 p.m. Thursday haunt. The 9 p.m. Friday show will be led by alt-country outfit Magnolia Electric Co. and Texas act Tre Orsi.

"Since it fell on a weekend, I kept getting calls and calls and calls about people wanting to do Halloween shows and I really wasn't sure about a second night until I booked The Evangelicals," said club owner Andy Nunez. "They seem like the perfect band. They are very Halloween-ish and since we go to all the trouble of decorating, we can at least put a two-night show together."

The Evangelicals rightly fit the mood of the holiday since the act's latest release, "The Evening Descends," is packed with haunting yarns featuring suicide, skeletons, werewolves and other chilling themes. Even the video for "Midnight Vignette" is a mock teaser for a B-movie fright flick. The band members themselves are also known for donning costumes using props on stage.

Headlining Friday's show is Magnolia Electric Co., a Chicago-based band fronted by lone permanent member, Jason Molina. Although not the most obvious choice for a Halloween event, Nunez said the band has a reputation for pulling out surprises on stage, plus he wanted the well-regarded band to get its first introduction to Norman with a packed "Hallopolis" audience.

Nunez said the success of April's Norman Music Festival might lead to "Hallopolis" growing into a larger " and possibly outdoor " celebration in downtown Norman in future years.

The Halloween-themed concert was originally envisioned as an outdoor event, Nunez said, but the logistics of cordoning off a parking lot so that tickets could still be sold was just too difficult. The club owner hopes downtown business owners and city leaders recognize the growing seasonal spirit, and help "Hallopolis" expand beyond the confines of the tiny venue.

"The weather in October is perfect," he said. "I've been to towns that really come alive for Halloween and it would be good to grow this in Norman because they currently don't have that many things going on." "Charles Martin

It's been six weeks since Josh Jones, Kyle Davis, Austin Stephens and Todd Jackson " Evangelicals, collectively " have slept in their own Oklahoma beds, but it probably feels more like a lifetime. Since the release of the band's sophomore album in January, the Norman foursome has been on the road nearly nonstop.

The prolonged travel is the sort of mind-numbing thing that turns night into day, winter into fall and leaves little recollection of what's happened throughout the transition, although for Evangelicals, 2008 has been a year of highlights and career landmarks.

"The Evening Descends" was released Jan. 22 to measurable critical success. Rife with obscure references " like conspiracy writer Francis E. Dec in the song "Bellawood" and "Castlevania" video game character Simon Belmont in the band's "Here in the Deadlights" " the album offers a more-than-a-little-creepy peek into the narrative of Evangelicals' mentality. The album has thus far spawned a video for "Midnight Vignette," which received limited play on MTV2.

Thursday's Opolis appearance will mark roughly 110 shows the band has performed this year.

Days after the January album release show at the University of Oklahoma, the group skipped town and has been touring since, traipsing from one end of the country to the other, booking dates in Canada and Europe as well. From February to April, Evangelicals and Illinois group Headlights circled the U.S. in a coupling front man Josh Jones found favorable.

"When you're on tour with a band that's about the same level as you, you're in the shit together. You're down in the trenches together," he said. "If you get to a venue, and the venue sucks, or the crowd is hostile, your crew is twice as big. You've got your band plus their band, and you can have a friend-party every night, even if the show goes poorly.

"Touring at that level is conducive to making friends. You're getting paid the same amount of money from the same places. You're sleeping on the same floors. You're having the same problems " gear, gas, whatever. That dynamic changes when you're opening for someone big."

Not long after the Headlights tour ended, Jones got a prime chance to test his theory of dynamic change when, in what is perhaps the band's most high-profile tour yet, Evangelicals joined folk-rock artists Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band for a five-date stint in August.

"It's great to do stuff like the Conor Oberst tour, because you get a chance to win new fans, and we also played to a lot more people than we would ever play to at one of our own headlining shows," Jones said. "The crowd was actually surprisingly receptive. I had the same experience when I was going to shows as a kid. When I would go see a band I liked, whatever the opening band that was playing at that the show, I knew that band had the stamp of approval of the band I was going to see, so I was more inclined to listen to them.

"I feel like that happened, where people were like, 'Hey, if it's good enough for Conor, it's good enough for us.' They definitely came in with an open mind."

Prior to the Mystic Valley dates, Evangelicals played their first European tour that, although only three weeks long, had its share of ups and downs.

"You can get our records and stuff over there, but (the turnout) really depended on the country," Jones said. "In America, you have different states, and maybe you do better on the East Coast or West Coast, or you do equally bad everywhere. But over there, it's so different from country to country.

"We played one show in one country and felt like U2, and then we played in the next country, and there would be nobody there."

The concept of dichotomy, however, is not lost on Jones, whose onstage persona seems to be frequently confused with his real personality in interviews. In Oklahoma, the wacky rock musician transforms back into the Norman resident, college football fan, pedestrian, friend and neighbor, which makes Thursday's Evangelicals homecoming show all the more interesting.

Previous performances have included Silly String, stage diving, toilet paper, capes, fog, strobe lights and " if the band's latest album is any indication " Evangelicals likely have more than a few Halloween tricks up their sleeves. "Becky Carman

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