Halloween means freedom. It’s the one holiday all year where you don’t have to worry about family politics or social niceties. It’s a euphoric, alcohol-soaked celebration of being who you want to be. The question is, where do you go to find the action? Here’s a rundown of some of the best Halloween parties going down across the States.
Insomniac Escape: Psycho Circus
Where & When: NOS Events Center, San Bernardino, Calif., 10/30-31
EDM giants behind Electric Daisy Carnival come back with another phantasmagoric fest. This year’s installment has elaborate staging and lights, pyrotechnics and mazes—not to mention a stacked line-up that includes Above & Beyond, Benny Benassi, DJ Snake and Richie Hawtin’s celebrated techno show ENTER.
Hard Day Of The Dead
Where & When: Fairplex at Pomona, Pomona, Calif., 10/31-11/1
As the other major SoCal Halloween spookfest, Hard Day of the Dead consistently delivers—last year’s had a zipline, face painting, and tons of good-looking costumed festivalgoers. It also serves up a more varied line-up of dance music and hip-hop, with highlights this year including Skrillex, Hot Chip, Flying Lotus, Future and A$AP Ferg.
Where & When: Belasco Theater, Los Angeles, Calif, 10/31
L.A. is home to plenty of mass-appeal dance nights, but Minimal Effort goes the other direction, bringing in techno artists with an interest in nuance and restraint. Still, even if this isn’t the place to get totally smashed on Jello shots, performers like Agoria and Blond:ish are sure to lay down dreamy, moody vibes fit for a cyborg cemetery.
BOO! San Francisco
Where & When: Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, San Francisco, 10/30-10/31
Another Insomniac production, this one launched in New York last year and now it’s heading cross-country with a dance-intensive line-up that includes Flosstradamus, Nicky Romero, Oliver Heldens and Seven Lions.
Phantasm: A Karnival Of Mischief
Where & When: The Armory, San Francisco, 10/31
Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation headlines this blowout held at San Francisco’s famed fetish porn palace the Armory.
Where & When: XS at Encore, 10/31
The Mormon/straight-edge house mega-star is bound to put on a memorable show at this visually stimulating superclub, and maybe he’ll even play his rousing new single ‘We Don’t Stop.’
Where & When: Foxtail at SLS, 10/31
English producer Emery isn’t exactly a “scary” guy—he’s got straightforward handsome looks and specializes in a bread-’n’-butter mix of trance, progressive and house. But sometimes all you need is a big synth and 4/4 thump to reach costumed transcendence.
Hz of Horror
Where & When: Nihil Gallery, Brooklyn, 10/31
If you’re into purist, pre-Skrillex dubstep this is the place to be—a bunch of futuristic bass specialists and beat sculptors will be getting together for mass vibrations. Don’t miss Nomine, a U.K. producer on the Tempa label trades in the hypnotic and avant-garde.
The Hood Internet
Where & When: Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, 10/31
Are mashups still a thing? Sure they are, and The Hood Internet offers up a truly Halloween-y mix of dance-y and dark on their recent track pitting Daft Punk against The Weeknd.
Dope Jams 8th Annual Hallowe’en Costume Ball
Where & When: Good Room, Brooklyn, 10/31
The New York record store that specializes in the finest of house and techno throws a party in which costumes and debauchery are both highly encouraged. House innovator Maurice Fulton plays as well as Paul Nickerson, Francis Englehardt and Jonathan Romero.
The Mummy: Les Carbonell, Iamlopez
Where & When: Cielo, NYC, 10/31
Bronx-bred DJ/producer Les Carbonell exudes positive feeling with his soulful and complex house music, while Colombia’s Iamlopez brings a 4/4 groove filled with delicious desire.
Where & When: Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, Live Oak, Fl., 10/30-11/1
This one’s pretty hippie overall, with Colorado jam band The String Cheese Incident carrying the headlining slot. But it should be worth a visit for Pretty Lights and the ever-empowering Chance the Rapper & The Social Experiment.
Where & When: Tsongas Center, Lowell, Mass., 10/29-10/30; Foxwoods Premier Ballroom, Mashantucket, Conn., 10/31.
Split into three shows over two states, this fest is looking like it’ll have some serious turn-up action going on with headliners Diplo, RL Grime and Steve Aoki. Booty-shaking shall be a must but considering the occasion, make sure to check out Wiwek on Day 1—he’s a Dutchman who makes “jungle terror.”
Where & When: Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill., 10/30-11/1
The Chicago area will get spooked for real with this massive fest, which brings a solid mix of dance music and hip-hop. Bassnectar will probably get cosmic, but Queens rapper/gourmand Action Bronson can’t be missed, who’s performing in support of this year’s excellent ‘Mr. Wonderful’.
House Of The Living Dead
Where & When: Royal Skate & Apparel, Lansing, Ill., 10/31
Prepare for an unholy gathering as 1200 watts of sound will be pumped through the room amplifying live acid house sets from Kris Paulsen and Rich Effect. And it’s only $2 at the door!
Where & When: New Orleans City Park, New Orleans, 10/30-11/1
This annual Louisiana fest must be going for the dad-rock crowd with its biggest headliner, a supergroup composed of Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Tom Morello and Slash. But dance music lovers will also be interested in Deadmau5, Steve Angello, Giorgio Moroder, Peaches and Salva.
Where & When: Sam Houston Race Park, Houston, Tex., 10/24-25
It’s happening a week before Halloween but who cares. Festival staples Above & Beyond and DJ Snake will be throwing down as well as Jack Ü, Steve Aoki and—perhaps most Halloween-y of all—raunchy beat-head/brostep pioneer Borgore.
Where & When: South Side Ballroom, Dallas, Tex.; Lausche Building at Ohio Expo Center, Columbus, Oh.; Balch Fieldhouse, Boulder, Colo.; 10/30 for all events.
This gloomtacular event is going down simultaneously in three states. See online for all the details, but just know that the Dallas one will probably be beautifully gnar with Zeds Dead headlining.
Words: PETER HOLSLIN