MusicMusic Features

Heart Meets Brains at the Zombie Prom

“It started with Chelsea [Lea] organizing zombie parades on Christmas Day when we were in high school,” explains Zombie Prom co-conspirator Ian Guthrie. “We took that idea, combined with a lack of costume parties in town, and ran with it. I mean, everyone loves zombies and hates Valentine’s Day—what a great party!”

What began as kooky, debaucherous revelry among friends—first in a Winterville farmhouse and then in the dearly departed DIY space The Hangar—has steadily grown with time.

“One year, we pulled in a fabulous old car [known as the ‘makeout car’] into The Hangar and we projected classic zombie movies,” Guthrie recalls. “Another year, everything was frozen over. Everyone had to walk through the snow—I did, in heels—to an equally freezing party. Everyone was so dedicated until someone slipped, and it took us a minute to realize the blood wasn’t fake.”

Kicking off the lineup of live (dead?) entertainment for this year’s sixth annual Zombie Prom is Monsoon, a newly formed local group of zealous teenagers that debuted its set of melodically driven post-punk at the 40 Watt Club’s Femme Fatale showcase last month. Providing easily the most horror-centric entertainment of the evening, The De Lux Interiors (pictured above) cover the sleazy, surfy garage-punk songs of psychobilly forefathers The Cramps, complete with backing dancers: bikini girls with machine guns, of course. The Humms, who recently made their 2010 album Lemonland available for free on Bandcamp, will follow with a set of tunes: raw, eerie garage rock with spooky swirls of psychedelia.

To close out the night with what will likely be a sweaty, bloody mess of a dance party, Will Donaldson, AKA DJ ChamberMusic, will spin a set of what folks lovingly refer to as “booty beats.”

Attendees are encouraged to don their most atrocious attire, but no one will be turned away for lack of blood. In the prom tradition, the titles of king and queen, among others, will be awarded.

“We started making horrifying trophies for ridiculous categories, such as ‘Best Dressed to Depress’ or ‘Most Skanky,'” says Guthrie. “George Washington zombie? We’ve had it. Mother zombie birthing fetal zombie? Prize winner.”

And what will organizer Guthrie be wearing? “My Old Faithful dress,” he says. “I found it in the road with a $250 price tag on it. I’ll be accessorizing with face gashes, bruises, a swamp-themed fascinator and the highest damn heels in the room. Prom Queen might be a ladyboy this year. Trust.”

In sync with Zombie Prom’s DIY spirit, Indie South Fair will host “Handmade Lovers: A Valentine’s Affair” immediately preceding the creepshow, from 4–9 p.m. In a fortuitous opportunity to shake off any sentiment of cynicism towards the questionably contrived holiday, those in search of a meaningful last-minute gift for their lucky Valentine (or themselves) can take comfort in knowing that this market focuses on items created with tender, loving care by local artists.

Gifts include cards and screenprinted items by Double Dutch Press, earrings by Earchitecture, handcrafted goods by Gypsies Tramps & Thieves and Rachel Cabaniss, herbal body care products by Madiscents and rare vintage finds curated by Strange Magick Vintage. Other services, including massages, hairstyling by Honey’s Salon, professional make-up by a MAC artist, caricature portraits, a vintage-inspired photo booth and Tarot readings by Autumn Weaver, are intended to be incorporated into date night pre-gaming or simply self-pampering. DJ ZZ Ryder will provide the aural backdrop to the artists’ market, spinning love-themed underground rock, oldies and soul.

“Handmade Lovers” is the first of what will hopefully develop into a series of more frequent, smaller-scale events organized by Indie South Fair (formerly Athens Indie Craftstravaganzaa), which currently hosts two of the largest bi-annual artists’ markets in town.

“The fact that we are segueing into Zombie Prom is cool to me, because it sort of pokes fun at the whole idea of a perfect date night and traditional notions of beauty, and gives people a reason to dress up and be silly and not worry about their relationship status,” says organizer Serra Ferguson.

“But there’s something in it for people no matter what approach they take to V-Day,” she continues. “Those who enjoy getting fancied up and giving tokens of their love over a candlelit dinner, and those who aren’t as into the conventional side of things and just want to party with their friends—which is what most holidays are really about for most of us.”

WHO: Zombie Prom featuring The De Lux Interiors, The Humms, Monsoon, DJ ChamberMusic
WHERE: Little Kings Shuffle Club
WHEN: Thursday, February 14