Rock ‘n’ Roll Celebrations Hit the Local Region and High Country

Battle of the Bands, Tribute Shows and Costume Galas Cap Halloween Festivities

Rick Langenberg

Who said Halloween is just about outings for kids.

It won’t rank as Woodstock Four, but the high country during the pre-Halloween weekend bustled with great music and rock ‘n’ roll shows, capped by a Battle of the Bands contest and a spree of live shows by favorites and then some inspiring prog rock tributes and festivals in the area.

And apparently, the celebration isn’t over.

During the pre-Halloween activity (the main time adults celebrate this outing), six area bands participated in the 2023 Halloween Battle of the Bands, hosted by the Crystola Roadhouse, right in our own backyard. The festivities marked a packed house on Oct. 27, the opening night.  Altogether, the competitors included such popular acts as Sic Eklipse, Midnight Hippies, El Paso County Outlaw Band, Mirror Shades, Swell the Band and Black Hole Boogie Band.

Based on voter tallies, the two finalists were declared as Midnight Hippies and Swell the Band, who both have a strong following and are known for retriggering classic legends of the past.  As of TMJ press time, a grand finale hadn’t been scheduled Midnight Hippies and Swell. It was originally planned for Oct. 29, but our winter weather had other plans for the final music showdown.

Besides Battle of the Bands, Tava Blue, a continual local favorite, led by the charismatic lead singer, Erin O’Connell (who actually won top laurels as the Best Troublemaker in the latest TMJ Best Of the High Country Contest) gave a raving performance on the evening of Oct. 28 at the Blue Moose Tavern in Green Mountain Falls. This one had folks from all age groups partaking in the pre-Halloween adult madness.  The fun times got off to a head start with the 2023 Emma Crawford Coffin Races and Festival in Manitou Springs.

And throughout the region, the nostalgic music celebration featured a stellar show, based on Facebook accounts, by Colorado Floyd (a Pink Floyd inspired tribute act, which even has roots in Teller County) at the Stargazers Theatre in Colorado Springs on Oct. 27. This one definitely won the top costume award among the fans.

This show brought prog rock fans to their feet, who earlier this month, got a taste of the one of the ultimate kings of this great genre of music, Peter Gabriel.  Pete, backed up by an array of unrivaled staging, (lights, videos and theatrical effects, unrivaled by any act, yes, even Taylor Swift, sorry KC Chief Crybabies) and an impressive array of musicians from around the world, put on another amazing show at the Ball Arena in Denver. (Yours truly got the chance to see this one, and if you haven’t had the opportunity, and time is running out as Mr. Gabriel is now reaching the young and tender age of nearly 75), as a Peter Gabriel performance amounts to quite an experience.  Each song almost turns into a separate show. Think they need to play one of his songs at a Woodland Park School Board meeting to bring this area to a needed level of sanity).

For those unfamiliar with his work, Peter performs probably the best live love song on the planet, “In Your Eyes,” and probably one of the most under-rated political songs, “Biko,” based on the brutal murder of the South African civil rights activist Stephen Biko. Besides his music, Peter Gabriel is quite an inspiring person and a great humanitarian. He actually played a role in starting the Witness organization, which tracks human rights violations around the world.

The prog rock area explosion then took another unique side route with a performance by Yes, the former ambassadors of the progressive rock movement of the 1970s (who even host a special prog rock cruise, called Cruise to the Edge), several days prior to the pre-Halloween celebrations on the Mountain. I guess it’s fair to say, we have a lot of rock boomers in Colorado.

Prog rock is a strange, yet creative musical beast that is frequently trashed by the critics, with idiot Rolling Stone Magazine Editor Jan Wenner calling this style of music, “psychedelic doodling.” But their loyal fans have continued to rally behind the various acts in growing volume, even though Jann and company have tried to ban them from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame or Shame.

Anyways, enough about music politics, especially in our politically charged region, as we have enough problems and ridiculous divisions.

Many thanks to our local establishments for hosting some great acts. And whatever your tastes, support our local musicians and stage performers, as they are a real treat and cultural treasure.