Preview — itchy-O’s Hallowmass Haunts Denver This Halloween Weekend

If the strange and whimsical beckons this Halloween season, if you are one seeking a profound experience in music or performance art, if the idea of loss and redemption hits close to your heart, look no further. This Friday and Saturday marks the 8th annual return of itchy-O’s Hallowmass — a resurrection of ritual in a decidedly secular world.

Described as more than a concert, Hallowmass is a “celebration… a harrowing pilgrimage beyond the self. Hallowmass is both a sanctuary for the Radical-Avant community and a journey into healing, through rites of reflection, adoration and dissolution; building to a percussive blast of purifying bombast.”

303 Magazine had the opportunity to chat anonymously with some of itchy-O’s team about the transcendental vision they are bringing to this year’s Hallowmass. Due to the private nature of the group, names could not be used for the purposes of this article.

Hallowmass 2022 Poster
Photo courtesy of itchy-O

303 Magazine: What’s the key ingredient to the outlandish, mind-perturbing performances of itchy-O?

itchy-O: In a way, itchy-O is alchemy, the cathartic catalyst that transforms from the ground up. We believe coming together in trance is our human birthright. That’s how we find such
common ground. We hearken back to a common ancestry and to archetypes in which the
initiated could ride rhythms to worlds of wonder beyond this realm. So one distinguishing element would be our dedication to providing a truly immersive initiation into something like a primal pan-human tradition. Equally important is our base. Over the years we have attracted an amazing core of dedicated fans, family, and friends. We consider them the living soul of itchy-O. We consider them one of the seven divisions of itchy-O called the Aöth, or Hive, as they sometimes refer to themselves. At Hallowmass, we celebrate the fact that nothing lasts forever, everything is in a constant state of change. We honor and release the past, ground ourselves in the present, to face a future we create together and attempt to not lose our minds during a time that seems quite insane. Finally, for some, we represent what could be. A place of collective connection, regeneration and release.

READ: Review – No One Spooks Quite Like Itchy-O

303: What is the inspiration behind this year’s Hallowmass?

iO: It is a celebration of impermanence. So we are calling this year the “Rites of Liberation In Return.” And I think that’s deeply, deeply loaded. And very rich, especially now. So many people, so many cultures… we’ve lost so much in the world in the last couple of years. And I think that, as humans, when we’re confronted with a sense of loss we have this impulse to try to craft. Meaning, in a way that’s not just intellectual. You can — you can rationalize. But it doesn’t address the same sort of embodied sense that you have when something passes from your life.

But it’s not just about mourning loss, it’s also about celebrating the times that we’ve had. And about letting go of things that have passed — whether good or bad — and also about valuing the time that we had with those things. You know, one of the things that give value is that time is fleeting so we have this thing only at this moment. And to be able to enjoy and celebrate and recognize the joys and the happiness and the positives that we take from these relationships that have passed is in and of itself, Hallowmass.

iO: If you haven’t been to a Hallowmass, it’s an immersive sonic exorcism. We are all attempting to find meaning in a finite world through mysticism, art and reverence for shared experience. In many cultures, this kind of rite holds a place of prominence among the holy days. For us, Hallowmass is a new kind of ceremony, celebrating our united recognition of this limited, fleeting and ever-evolving life.

We encourage all that attend Hallowmass to call to consciousness these things that have passed through their lives by bringing an artifact, memento, or any sort of representative token to place on an altar that is “wired-for-sound” and vibration. The week after, on November 6, we will announce another public event where we burn all of the combustible offerings in a respectful community gathering in which we release them into the universe by fire, together.

Without giving too much away we will also be unveiling some new elements, including Lion- Beasts with incredibly new and enhanced abilities. We continue to develop methods that use both frequency and rhythmic techniques to elicit trance-like states and have worked these elements into the Hallowmass altar.

Though a key element to itchy-O’s success is their anonymity, this year will honor the sudden loss of one of the ensemble’s long-time performers.

303: How has the theme of loss — as well as the actual loss of a member — affected this year’s creative process?

iO: Yes. One of our members was taken from us, the end of last year. She was a true shining light. The sense of loss with which we approach this show is only mitigated by the great joy and honor it was to collaborate, create ceremony, and make art with her. Not sure shit gets any better, but the void we feel today is indescribable as we head into these shows, still a bit shell-shocked. We know her spirit will be present with and within us as we perform. Her legacy will also be in good hands as Sol Tribe, Primal Wellness, and Fully Awake Arts step up to fill her shoes and support the building of the shrine. We will also be giving the mic during one of our songs to priestess warrior, pirate goddess-king-Lady Speech Sankofa to say a few words on all of our behalfs. We have never included human language in our performances before but, for this Hallowmass, it’s more than appropriate to create space for our shared loss and the call to action her remarkable life embodied.

Normally, we like to bring the new year in with a bang, but this year we are going dark after this Hallowmass. Last New Year’s shows at HQ (the former 3Kings venue where we played many shows with her) were incredibly hard for us. We hope our fans and followers will understand. We need some time during this awful anniversary. So, this is the last opportunity to join us until 2023 as we dedicate this performance to her great soul and bear in mind our primary focus; to serve and uplift our community so that we can better move forward together.

itchy-O Hallowmass 2020. Photo by Kori Hazel.

Hallowmass takes over Summit Denver Friday, October 28, and Saturday, October 29, with support from fellow local favorites Los Mocochetes night one and Dreadnought night two. Find tickets here.

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