COVID-19 may have canceled most of 2020’s musical offerings, but on Halloween night, get your fingers primed and ready for throwing those devil horns because Victory North celebrates the occasion most raucously.
Five local bands will perform tributes to artists like Tom Petty, No Doubt, Stray Cats, and Rilo Kiley. They’re ready to rock, loud and proud! Socially distanced, of course, and with all necessary coronavirus precautions in place.
“We wanted to offer an event that would support a range of local musicians, musicians that used to play downtown, and bring them together for the community,” said Andrea De La Higuera, Lighting and Marketing Director at Victory North, “and we’re very aware of having that in a space where people will be and feel safe.”
Safety is the venue’s first priority. Victory North will have a person stationed outside taking temperatures as well as multiple hand sanitizing stations inside.
“We have a special GPS air filtration system that clears particles and viruses, it’s been in place since we opened,” Da La Higuera said.
Victory North will also be operating at reduced capacity.
“We can hold about 600 people but due to COVID-19, we’re limiting that night to 300. We’re also opening up the courtyard to help with social distancing,” explained Da La Higuera.
Patrons are required to wear a mask for the event.
Guitarist and event organizer, Kevin Rose, who plays that night with The Train Wrecks band in a tribute to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, is looking forward to getting loud.
“It’s been months since my last official show with lights, good sound, and a cohort of players,” Rose said.
Rose has a soft spot for Petty. Just after the icon’s death in 2017, Rose organized a benefit for the Coastal Conservation Association of Georgia where the Train Wrecks/ Tom Petty tribute came to life. He recalls a couple of his favorite tunes from that show also on the Halloween set list
“There’s a vibrato guitar solo in ‘You Got Lucky’ that made me first want to learn guitar when I heard it,” Rose said. “And the song ‘Swinging’ hits the mood of so many of us right now fighting the good fight.”
He also acknowledges the precautions in place.
“It’s one of the most high-tech and safest venues in town because of its ventilation system, and everyone in this event is aware of where we are in history, and hopefully this is a step forward for safe, live performance in Savannah,” Rose said.
Veronica Garcia-Melendez, front person of the band Bero Bero, echoes a similar sentiment.
“We’re super excited to get back out and be safe about it. Our last full public performance was at Savannah Stopover in March.”
On Halloween night, Garcia-Melendez will lead a No Doubt tribute.
“I wanted to do something female-fronted and different from Bero Bero,” explained Garcia-Melendez, “and No Doubt seemed fun, something woman-fronted from the 90s.”
Bero Bero, a synth-driven two-piece, teams up with members of The Al Gore Rhythms to create the guitar-heavy sound of No Doubt.
“We’re only using a sequencer on one song,” Garcia-Melendez said, “which is a fun break from our usual performing practices to play with a full band.”
Aware of No Doubt, but never really a big fan, Garcia-Melendez admits that in the work of learning the songs, she’s not so keen on all of the music, “but the hits are bangers! They are catchy and fun to dance to.”
Phillip Price, on-the-scene keyboard and accordion aficionado, will join the ensemble that night.
For singer Jenn Carroll the opportunity to perform at Victory North came unexpectedly. During quarantine Carroll spent much of her time learning ukulele and working up the nerve to accompany herself. She kept at it and even shared a few videos to social media. And then one evening hanging out at a local bar, Carroll’s tribute band, Salute Your Jorts, was born.
“I was at Lone Wolf, and so was Robby Melton, Joe Kapcin, and Peterson Worrell and we found that we all loved Rilo Kiley,” she said.
Since then, the fledgling band has been rehearsing, working up a set list, which so far includes “Love and War” and “Portions for Foxes.”
“I just really like Rilo Kiley and the energy of the band and am happy to be able to do this,” Carroll said.
In fact, Halloween night will be Carroll’s first ever public performance.
“I’m eager and looking forward to people dancing and hanging out in as normal and safe way as we can right now.”