Under the Covers

Decadent Cabaret bringing a wild weekend of music

Natalie Rosenkranz, photos by Lee Butterworth

BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE. Nick Arnold of Do It Yourself DaIsY performed as part of a Marilyn Manson set during last year’s Decadent Cabaret at the House of Rock. The festival is known for over-the-top costumes and cover sets.
BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE. Nick Arnold of Do It Yourself DaIsY performed as part of a Marilyn Manson set during last year’s Decadent Cabaret at the House of Rock. The festival is known for over-the-top costumes and cover sets.

A tradition of fishnets and memorable musical performances is approaching its 38th year! Decadent Cabaret – which features local bands dressing up and performing tribute sets – is the longest-running music festival in Eau Claire, and it’s all about the local scene.

“It’s kind of like a blend of Mardi Gras and Halloween all rolled into one.” – Joey Gunderson, musician and organizer, Decadent Cabaret

Local music scene veterans Joey Gunderson, Brent Keuchen-meister, and Duane “Danno” Kebschull took over as the event coordinators of Decadent in 2005. According to Gunderson, “The festival has grown immensely year-by-year. We used to do an acoustic set on Thursdays, but we had so much interest in applications that we’ve gone to three full band nights.” 

During this year’s festival, which will run March 2-4, Gunderson said there are at least seven new acts, while many local artists work together just for Decadent. The cabaret involves a lot of reunions, and tons of different bands playing together. “It’s a festival for people who cultivated their bands here and the local music scene,” Gunderson added.

While Decadent Cabaret started out as a one-band, one-night gig, these days it includes multiple bands from numerous genres ranging from indie rock to metal to electronic to jazz to pop to folk and more. “It’s extremely diverse within our local music scene,” Gunderson said. “Some of them are original sets, and some of them are cover bands. Some of the bands dress up in costumes; it’s kind of like a blend of Mardi Gras and Halloween all rolled into one.” 

Covers you can expect this year include Jonathan Seeley & The Thundering Herd as The Ramones, Sniffle Party as The White Stripes, and The Jaggernauts as The Dead Kennedys. Similarly, look for Jodi Hanson and the rest of the Giants of Midgard covering Bikini Kill.

“I’m excited about seeing the crowd’s reactions to the different sets. I always get a big kick out of that,” Gunderson said. “The artists put a lot of time and effort into their music. Once they put everything together for the set, it’s fun to look at the crowd from the stage.”

Whether they’re performing covers or new, original material, “This is a good display of what the local musicians are capable of,” Gunderson said. “This is the ultimate experience to see and hear what’s going on in the local music scene. I can’t think of a better way to get that than Decadent Cabaret; it’s perfect.” 

Decadent Cabaret is Thursday-Saturday, March 2-4, at the House of Rock, 422 Water St. Doors open on Thursday and Friday at 5:30pm, and performances start at 6:30pm. On Saturday, doors open at 3:30pm, and performances start at 4:30pm. There’s a $7 cover charge each night.

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