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Halloween Havoc

Rivals bring cliques together for their Halloween special

By Colin Kutch

IT STARTED as a happy accident. In 2001, a post-hardcore foursome known as Rivals took to the stage as an opening band for a low-key Halloween show in Gilroy. They were nervous. Lead singer Matt Reed had his face covered in a Scream mask and his body wrapped in a black cloak, which was much less cumbersome than the medieval armor worn by bassist Dave Karan. Guitarist Zack Alves went for the classic skeleton look. The members vowed to play their hearts out even if only for a few people.

The curtain opened revealing a packed house ready to explode. Not only that, but according to Rivals drummer Jim Azevedo, about 80 percent of the crowd was in costume. Rivals knew they were onto something. They decided to make it a yearly event, work to be the headlining act and expand the idea into a Halloween party and costume contest. The bands all dress up trying to outdo each other, and there are wall-to-wall decorations inside the venue with candy all over the place. Last year's costume-contest winner came dressed in a homemade Gwar costume with spikes, shoulder padding and cardboard armor. Azevedo went so far as to cross-dress as Gwen Stefani to get into the spirit—a scary sight, no doubt.

The event is in its third year, and Rivals and seven other bands expect to sell out the Gaslighter Theater in Gilroy. The band's sense of humor, strong do-it-yourself work ethic and down to earth personality make Rivals easy to like. "For a heavier band, people always seem shocked that there's about a 50/50 girl-boy ratio in our crowds," says Azevedo. "Everyone from the total rocker types to goths to metal heads and jocks seem to gather and get along at a Rivals show. We love that!"

How weird that a band called Rivals brings so many types of rock fans together? Without any record label support or marketing budget, Rivals (which formed in early 2001) sold more than 2,500 CDs and built a fan base through word of mouth. This year's show is also Rivals' CD-release party for their eight-song EP A Second Chance at Retribution, produced by former Metallica and Primus sound engineer Kent Matcke.

Azevedo says Matcke pushed the band to write song after song so they'd have a pool to choose from and record each track take after take. He took Azevedo aside and had him work with a click track to keep the beat steady. "We had our share of 'studio moments' of frustration," Azevedo admits. "He's normally really mellow, but he pushed us. There wasn't any screwing around."

Guitarist Zack Alves says recording the album with Matcke forced the band to work harder than ever in the studio to seize some of Rivals' live energy—which will be on display at the Gaslighter. "He kicked our asses and we're all the better for it."


Rivals and Un-I.D., Thirty-3, A Burning Water, Hostility, Bound To Break, Plans For Revenge and The War Program play for the Halloween show, Oct. 31 at the Gaslighter, 7430 Monterey St., Gilroy. Tickets are $9 or $7 with costume. (408.848.3488)


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From the October 27-November 2, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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