The Scene 

They Might Be Giants, The Black Cart, Guerilla Cuisine, Widespread Panic

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A Giant Feat
They Might Be Giants summon ol' Strom from the pits of hell

The "new" Music Farm sounded better than ever on Halloween night as They Might Be Giants guitarist/vocalist John Flansburgh and keyboardist/vocalist John Linnell led their killer band through a high-energy set of fan faves and cool new material ("The Mesopotamians" from the new disc The Else kicked ass). I'm not sure how they did it, but the Giants even managed to conjure the ghost of late Sen. Strom Thurmond "from the place down there." Linnell held a quick conversation with the notorious South Carolina political legend over the P.A. before they both tumbled into a loose and heartfelt rendition of "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" by Bonnie Tyler. Thurmond sounded a bit more vibrant and squeaky than usual, and mangled some of the lyrics to the chorus, but the costumed audience cheered as he said goodbye to Linnell and scampered back to the lake of fire and brimstone. —T. Ballard Lesemann

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Packed to the Gills
Bodypainting, a Bridezilla, and paid-for bar tabs at the Black Cart

Halloween just had to be on hump day this year. While some folks celebrated the weekend before, others decided to wait until Oct. 31. And then there were the folks that said, why not celebrate twice? On Halloween night, downtown Charleston was swamped with costumed bodies, bicycle gangs, nervous cops, busy tow trucks, and some biting weather. Lines to get into the Halloween parties snaked around the smokers on the sidewalks, while costumes glittered, fluttered, and left little to the imagination.

Speaking of the downtown scene, Black Cart had some of the most innovative non-store bought costumes around. And although owner Julio Cotto was supposed to be busy body painting girls, more often than not he was busy weaving in and out of the throngs of patrons, keeping the bar stocked.

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Among the costumed, there was an array of hipster types, a short-and-slim sumo wrestler, Sherlock Holmes, Bridezilla, Michael Jackson, the lamp from A Christmas Story, and Amy Winehouse. Bar tabs were given to the first, second, and third prize winners.

As old-school hip-hop raged throughout the night, costumes came undone and people began dancing on table tops.

Just as entertaining was the street below; it was home to a mix of smokers, broken glass, tears, hair weaves, progressively unraveling costumes, and police officers physically barring people from entering the packed bars. —Svetlana Minx

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Traveling Gourmets
No gorillas appeared at Guerrilla Cuisine's first dinner

Way out on Wadmalaw Island last Sunday night, a small crowd gathered, nervously wondering what they had gotten themselves into at the first Guerrilla Cuisine event in Charleston. What they got was a carefully planned and executed six course meal by a team of McCrady's chefs, including Sean Brock, who worked on three burners in a tiny kitchen in the corner of a rustic pavilion at Irvin~House Vineyards, where the event took place. Most of the vegetables Brock served had been grown nearby at McCrady's own farm, a new venture that's currently producing arugula, radishes, pumpkins, tomatoes, and the like. The foodies who came out for this inaugural underground supper club event were treated to kebabs of tomatoes and plums with raspberry vinegar, pink radishes with salt and butter, pumpkin soup with foie gras-stuffed chicken wings, a salad of arugula and shrimp, and Carolina suckling pig, which was accompanied by an array of vegetables that were passed around family-style. Artist Johnny Pundt provided the artwork, Sam Perry played some tunes during a break between courses, and Brock offered an explanation of each dish before eating commenced. The patrons brought their eager palates and their own bottles of wine — even though the winemakers had a jug of vodka-infused sweet tea — or would that be sweet-tea infused vodka? Either way, the little alcoholic drink was indistinguishable from real sweet tea and could be a dangerous new drug around these here parts — it was that good. —Stephanie Barna

A Second Honeymoon
After a rough patch, Panic still brings the heat

Widespread Panic and I have been seeing each other for nearly a decade, and we're still in love. Not that we haven't had our rocky times. After five years of passionate weekend trysts across the Southeast, our love affair hit a rough patch in 2002. The multi-day affairs turned into occasional one-night stands whenever she rolled into town. I missed the old Panic, and it was harder to be satisfied.

Until Saturday, when the band relit the flame. Widespread gently reminded me of days gone by on a Friday night "Airplane" ride, before a drive through "Surprise Valley" while J.J. Cale's "Ride Me High" played on the radio. As J.B. crooned, "Heaven is a place, where nothing ever happens," I could feel that Saturday would be a second honeymoon.

And it was — just like our first date in Raleigh years ago. We went "Walkin' (For Your Love)" while sippin' on a "Tall Boy," thinking about all the "Goodpeople" who packed the North Charleston Coliseum with energy. From set two's "Disco" kickoff, those old feelings returned. Sometime after howling through "Werewolves of London," I was distracted by a "Red Hot Mama" in the stands, but I got stoned on a Van Morrison encore that brought me back to earth. "Papa's Home" got me boogying out the door, tempted to get on the train to Jacksonville and do one more night. Panic, I won't stray far again. —Stratton Lawrence


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