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Hampshire Halloween gives Amherst a trippy treat

The leaves are turning, and the tacky decor displays are out at CVS. That can only mean one thing: Hampshire Halloween and all of its madness, depravity and carnal merry-making must be nearly upon us.

Hampshire Halloween, colloquially referred to as Trip or Treat, is a campus tradition which dates back as far as anyone can remember at Hampshire, which probably is not back to the beginning of Hampshire Halloweens, given the event’s reputation for substance-induced mischief.

The small liberal arts college in South Amherst will host Hampshire Halloween Friday with the campus officially slated to close for the festivities at 5 p.m.

The event is such a legend that it has earned widespread acclaim and reviews in places like Rolling Stone, rivaling the University of Wisconsin for the most debauched Halloween celebration in the nation.

This year’s event boasts a more than $40,000 price tag, with upwards of 15 bands slated to bring an irresistible medley of monstrous Halloween melodies to Hampshire, plus a variety of other on-campus activities and events.

Tickets through Hampshire and allotted for the rest of the Five Colleges have already sold out, but resourceful party-goers can still find an in on the Internet, with the Western Massachusetts page of Craigslist posting numerous ticket offers.

Those planning on making the trek across Amherst should be forewarned; Hampshire is going to be something of a madhouse Friday.

Campus will close to everyone not coming to the event at 5 p.m. Those wishing to enter campus after will be checked for either Hampshire ID cards or tickets.

Non-Hampshire students will need to exchange their tickets upon arrival to campus for wristbands, which can be done at the Eric Carle Museum, located across from Adele Simmons Hall and beyond the Dakin and Merill residential areas.

The event’s page on Hampedia, the Hampshire wiki site, stresses that anyone without a ticket will be refused entrance and that taking PVTA buses is highly encouraged. The 38 or 39 buses travel to Hampshire, depositing riders at Campus Center.

The event is expected to draw some 2,000 revelers, with performances scheduled for the quad in front of the library, behind the Robert Crown Center (RCC), Hampshire’s gym and central building and in the gallery of the library.

Kicking off the performances will be Hampshire’s own The Gin and Chronics, sampling music and literature at 6 p.m. on the library lawn. Also at 6:00 will be Hampshire’s burlesque group, bringing the thrill of scantily clad vaudeville dancers alive for 21st century college students, behind the RCC.

From there, Justin Kahn will play the library lawn at 7 p.m., with Andrew Squid Frank taking over behind the RCC.

At 8 p.m., the band AKAKAKAK will take over the library lawn in what can only be an ak-ward performance of ak-someness, while fellow Hampshire act, Lights with Music, will make its debut behind the RCC.

At 9 p.m., the group TOMBS will play the library lawn, with The Stimulus Package, another Hampshire group describing itself as “fun rock with horns and dancing beats,” is slated to perform at the RCC starting at 8:15 p.m.

At 10 p.m., the library lawn will see DJ KAT FYTE spin the night away, while perennial funk, groove, jazz group The Bubonic Souls scheduled to take over behind the RCC at 9:30 p.m.

From 11:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., Blanche Deveraux will play the library lawn, while longtime local party-rock outfit, Outer Stylie, will bring their reggae grooves to the RCC.

At midnight, Austin, Texas based electronic-funk band, Plus Move, will take over the RCC stage in what promises to be the evening’s ultimate headliner.

Meanwhile, the library gallery will be hosting what it calls “stimulus overload – all night!”

The gallery will feature Crazy Pitches, a self-described unconventional acappella troupe, starting at 7:30 p.m., with the Gin & Tonics, another acappella group focused on what it calls classic, independent rock and pop, taking over from 8:30 to 9 p.m., followed by slam poetry from 9 to 9:30 p.m., and a question mark at the end of the night, an act with no details other than its name, Professor Science.

The rest of the campus will feature Halloween themed gags, with the Prescott area of campus showing classic horror flicks like Nosferatu and Brahm Stoker’s Dracula, Dakin showing a 90s TV show Halloween episode marathon, Merill featuring pumpkin carving and ghost stories around a fake campfire, and the bus loop featuring hay rides.

Hampshire Halloween is put together by Hampshire’s Council for Community Activities (COCA), which plans and manages the event every year.

Sam Butterfield can be reached at sbutterfield@dailycollegian.com.

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