Last night, hundreds of punks, geeks, and theater kids doused in fake blood piled on line at 42nd St. for World/Inferno Friendship Society’s annual Hallowmas show, which navigated the Hudson River on a yacht this year. To Inferno fans, this event is huge. As everyone waited to board the ship, one girl announced theatrically, “If I die at the World/Inferno show, I want everyone to know it’s what I wanted!”
Indeed, when World/Inferno — a self-proclaimed “red-eyed soul” nine-piece out of Brooklyn — played their set, no one could doubt the fans’ devotion. Up front, people were more horizontal than vertical, and the boundary between stage and crowd was effectively deconstructed.
World/Inferno are not your typical punk act, and it’s not just their ska and gospel disguises that set them apart. Instead of beer-chugging and shouting, lead singer Jack Terricloth sipped wine from the bottle and pronounced choruses like “Only anarchists are pretty” in a nasal, grandiloquent voice. When the mob of fans started falling forward onto the stage, Terricloth cheekily prodded back, “What do I look like, a pushover?”
Opening band Max Levine Ensemble, on the other hand, was punk-by-the-numbers — as in 2-minute songs with 3 chords. Still, if each song was the same, it wasn’t a bad one. The vocals were mostly inaudible, but that didn’t prevent the front row from singing along. On a night where the dress code was supposedly “historical figures in hell,” even Capote and Zappa dug the D.C. act. Meanwhile, Hunter S. Thompson stood pensive, a cigarette hanging out of his mouth as he asked coolly, “What is this bullshit?” KAREEM ESTEFAN / PHOTOS BY ANDREW HINDERAKER