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What to expect at this year’s Hellbender Ball!

It sure is fun to pretend to be someone or something else for a little while. Sometimes all it takes is some imaginative makeup, a fun wig, or an outlandish outfit to take us out of our comfort zone and into a world of mystery, imagination, and wonder. That’s why people have been celebrating Halloween for thousands of years.

Having said that, I cannot encourage you enough to come hang out with us at this year’s Hellbender Ball! We’ve got killer lineup of Pittsburgh musicians “dressing up” as artists they admire.

We’ll start the show with Water Trash performing as The Doors. I can’t think of any band more capable of capturing the weird and tense magic of The Lizard King and his band.

Clara Kent — yes, that Clara Kent — will be doing a set as Erykah Badu and, knowing Clara, she’ll expertly capture that playful intimacy thatMs. Jackson’s daughter has been serving up for the last few decades. Just call her Clar-ykah!

AI? We don’t need no stinkin’ AI to enjoy some music from a Beatle because Pittsburgh music veteran Chet Vincent has his mind set on being George Harrison for a little while. Everybody’s (well, my) favorite Beatle is responsible for some of the Four’s most Fab songs, and I can’t wait to hear them.

We’ll double down on Pittsburgh music when NASH.V.ILL take the stage as former Steel City resident and funk mistress Betty Davis. Led by powerful singer Jacquea Mae and guitar hero Byron Nash, expect this funk to be lowdown and dirty. Where’s that gif of Leonardo DiCaprio biting his fist from “The Wolf of Wall Street?”

We’ll close out the show with the most ambitious musical costume of the night when String Machine take the stage as Lady Gaga. String Machine are one of the best bands to ever crawl out of the three rivers, so I know they’ll capture her adventurous spirit, twist it around, and make it their own. I can’t say if they’ll do it while maintaining their poker faces, but it sure will be fun to watch!

If you made it this far, you pretty much have to come out and see the show. Get your tickets early because I’ve seen lots of sad ghosts and goblins flutter down Butler Street because they waited too long to get their passes. It’s one of the most fun things we do here at WYEP, and I hope to see you there! Oh yeah, be sure to get a good costume together because we’ll be judging and there will be a prize. Come say hi if you see me. I’ll definitely “bee” there.

Tickets for the Hellbender on Saturday, Oct. 21 at Thunderbird Music Hall are $25 (plus at $2.50 fee). You can buy them here.

Full costume contest rules can be found here.

Joey Spehar is a Pittsburgh native who started as a volunteer D.J. at WYEP, fresh out of college in 2006. He took on any job they’d let him do like editing audio, engineering remote broadcasts, and shoveling snow.