Costumed bands Toronto

The top 10 costumed Toronto bands of all time

The top costumed Toronto bands might see October as a little basic - after all, they've committed to dressing up 365 days a year (or at least, for x amount of gigs per year). Halloween will soon be upon us and many of us are already choosing costumes ourselves, but first we need to pay tribute to those bands who have rocked a variety of get ups year-round. From pylons to robot suits to 80s exercise wear, these Toronto acts' DIY styles take them to the next level. Who knows, they might hold the inspiration you need this year.

With all respect to the goths (they know we love them), here are the top ten costumed Toronto bands of all time.

Shuffle Demons
These rapping jazz-fusion pioneers had a top 40 hit with their 1986 single "Spadina Bus" , the original theme song of Speaker's Corner. Their eye-popping outfits include custom suits with wild black-and-white artwork and a variety of headgear, including military hats and a pharaoh's headdress. They've been enjoying a resurgence since their 2012 album Clusterfunk. Enjoy the outfits while you can - saxophonist Richard Underhill has entered the less-stylish realm of politics. He was running for mayor, but recently dropped out to support Olivia Chow.

Toronto's resident interplanetary robot overlords are newcomers to the scene, but their level of commitment is total. Their outfits would make fans of 70s Doctor Who and The Day the Earth Stood Still proud. Judicious use of lights as well as some sweet saxophone placements give Daft Punk a run for their money as the kings of robot rock. The pounding beat, vocodor and synth-based tunes provide a solid match of sound and aesthetic.

Tupper Ware Remix Party
Inspired by Iron Maiden, Daft Punk and Jamiroquai, their costumes are even more diverse than their influences. With pylon heads, multi-coloured spandex, cat masks and gas masks, these guys make your average band jealous with their immense wardrobe. Much like Matrox, TWRP tout intergalactic origins, but you may find these guys, as I did, synth-rocking out at your local street corner.

Fat as F**k
Describing themselves as the cosmic offspring of King Crimson, Paul Oakenfold, Iron Maiden and Ronald McDonald, this instrumental prog-funk septet keep a unique style. They wear translucent white coats in case of an epidemic and transparent party masks in case of a ball. They released their excellent self-titled debut earlier this year.

Unclassifiable weirdo provocateurs have been unsettling audiences for a couple years now and their disturbing costumes have played a big part. The duo's ever-changing outfits include mop wigs, over-sized raincoats, canvas masks and the occasional chiton . With these outfits, their diseased R&B sounds and perplexing short films, Barbara are definitely in the running for Toronto's weirdest band.

New Horizzzons
A group that understands the importance of presentation, they housed download codes in packages of incense while playing an unhinged style of glam-psych. This commitment to the theatrical extends to their radical fashions. They can be seen clad in campy tennis outfits, bright-red robes, mime makeup and wigs. Their choices of venues are equally inspired, having played at the Eyesore Cinema and a cat's birthday party.

The Vulcan Dub Squad
One of Brampton's finest bands, the Vulcan Dub Squad disbanded in 2008 after an 11 year, five album career, but their impact is still felt. The group's unique sound was a mix of post rock, Cure-inspired new wave, punk and jangly, Kinks-referencing pop. For much of their career, they performed in matching suits and black masks, which rather than having an alienating effect, seemed to bring them closer to their audiences. A highlight was "Alpha Flight #12", referencing the classic Canadian superhero team.

Out of all our costumed bands, Fitness have the ultimate synchronicity between form and function. Their moves and costumes come straight out of an 80s workout video, but don't call them a parody - they're seriously invested in the concept. At their shows, you'll see brightly coloured leggings, short shorts, neon armbands, and some sweet choreography. The music fits with the theme as well, with upbeat post-punk tunes that get audiences moving. The icing on the cake is a series of TTC Fit videos made for commuters to get their groove on.

Representing Toronto's black metal scene, these robed rockers released their first album, Sacred White Noise, earlier this year. Their robes give the group both ample menace and total anonymity, and the use of grainy black and white for promotional photos furthers their impression as scary monks. They combine noise and progressive elements for their distinctive take on black metal, and have toured diverse locations, from New York to Switzerland to Slovania.

Nash the Slash
No discussion of costumed musicians would be complete without veteran avant-garde multi-instrumentalist Nash the Slash, who passed away earlier this year after an almost forty year career. Nash's distinctive costume was iconic to the Canadian music scene. His bandaged face, black aviator goggles, white suit and top hat combined to create an instantly recognizable character. With a background in progressive rock, he was best known in his later years for performing live soundtracks to silent horror films, such as Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. His image lives on in a series of murals in Leslieville.

Photo of Nash the Slash by Phil Taylor

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