Cigarette smoke curled around a pack of unhappy under-21s who lingered outside the Loft in costumes all too revealing, while the of-age crowd shuffled past into the venue’s narrow stairwell for a low-lit Halloween show.
While the Loft lacked its previously traditional hand stamps, it compensated with heavy I.D. checks and frank words on the new 21+ policy that left the costumed out in the cold.
“There were a lot of people taking advantage of the bar here that weren’t of age,” bouncer Ryan Pelke said. “We’re just obeying the law. While it might be tough on them, it’s a better atmosphere for everyone else.”
And it was tough. For them.
And whether or not the atmosphere itself was affected by the new rule, it was certainly filled with the excitement of local bands Pash, Grave-Robbing Extravaganza and the rumor of a D.C. Hip-Hop/Rap group.
For those who managed to make it past the age threshold, the metal quartet Grave-Robbing Extravaganza expertly took the stage with band members Evan Henry and Colin Deyman in Halloween masks.
Band mates Christian Tenney and Lewis Kopenhafer nodded their serene-looking faces while they played, their long hair shaking over their instruments when they thrashed.
The fans went wild.
“I was actually kind of surprised that as many people like us as they do,” Henry said. “I wasn’t expecting a melodic metal band to get any kind of fan following at Mary Wash, so it was really kind of a surprise for all of us.”
Costumed Grave-Robbing Extravaganza enthusiasts swayed and nodded in time to the give and take of the band’s instruments working off one another in slow crescendos, and sway they did to the group’s epic 20-minute-long orchestration, “Laudanum Part II: Satanic Boogaloo,” which the band effortlessly debuted.
“Thank you. That was the first time we’ve ever played that in front of anyone that isn’t, well, us,” Kopenhafer smiled and told the crowd.
As the lights came back up for a few brief minutes, the costume-clad Pash members picked up their instruments as Harry Potter, Amy Winehouse, Angus Young and a flasher (laughably-large homemade trench-coat-hidden goods included).
As is typical of Fredericksburg’s Indie/Dance band, Pash spilled energy over the stage and onto the attendees dancing like crazy in front of them.
Lead singer Meredith Munoz’s pitch was spot-on and guitarist Erik Bruner-Yang’s kicks and flailings were all the more entertaining in his AC/DC-inspired tight cutoff shorts.
Drummer Jon Bibb set the pace with passionate rhythms and bassist Ryan McLaughlin left the audience shocked and laughing when he opened his coat and let his thing, er, costume swing free to his bass lines.
“I thought it was a good show,” said McLaughlin. “I think we all had a lot of fun up there.”
But when the lights came back up a second time, something was wrong. There was too long a pause between sets — the musicians had no idea what was going on.
Was there even a third band? Who was this mystery rap group anyway? Why weren’t they setting up? …Where’s my beer?
Due to some band difficulties (read: personal issues), the band never showed, leaving rapper A-Ron Assassin all by his lonesome.
Luckily for him, Adam Holofcener, Methamphetamines front man and the show’s between-band disc jockey, can play some mean impromptu jazz guitar.
Joined by Holofcener and Pash’s Bibb and Bruner-Yang, A-Ron rapped over a freestyle collaboration of reverb, sweet, sweet riffs and Radiohead-like minor variations for more than 10 minutes, taking everyone by surprise — including the musicians themselves.
“It’s probably the best time I’ve had in a long time playing,” A-Ron said. “It was pretty awesome. My band is more Hip-Hop so we’ve got a drummer and a DJ but as far as rocking out with a rock band, I’d never done that before. It was totally different but it was great.”
So while the under-agers were turned away in flocks, the lucky age-gifted attendees witnessed a lump sum of awesomeness and Halloween surprises – be they in the form of a sock/sweet potato costume add-on or a spontaneous freestyle collaboration that brought the house down. Sorry if you missed it. Maybe next year.