Saturday, July 21, 2012

Live Review: Jukebox The Ghost, 9:30 Club (6/29/12)

Fans don't just go to live shows to listen to music, as they could just as easily do so on record. Live shows carry a multitude of other characteristics that separate them from just a simple recording, such as stage presence and crowd interaction. It's a rare quality these days to be as charismatic and warm as Jukebox The Ghost is in their live set. They noticeably try their best to put on a fantastic show and engulf fans in their set by making them feel like part of the show. It becomes more than just a show, it's a gathering of friends, all there to experience Jukebox The Ghost's quirky piano rock in all its glory.

Opening band Tereu Tereu wasn't even supposed to be on the show, but hopped on last second as Bright Moments cancelled. The duo was easily the least poppy band of the night, instead sticking to distorted riffs and technical post-punk, and while they didn't quite fit in with the rest of the bands, that doesn't mean they weren't able to open some eyes. Even though they only played as a duo, backing tracks assisted the band in sticking to the original recorded forms of their songs. Though it was disappointing that the band couldn't really recreate their songs live, they absolutely nailed the parts they could. Vocalist and lead guitarist Ryan Little was the one that we all kept our eyes on, as both his general guitar playing and his solos were well above average, dashing around the stage without interrupting a single note. Sounding at times like a combination of The Smashing Pumpkins and The Black Keys (with vocals out of LCD Soundsystem's book in "The Body Unmade"), Tereu Tereu may not have been playing to the right crowd, but as a replacement band in a sold out show, I'd say they made out pretty damn well.

Savoir Adore may have very well been polar opposites of Tereu Tereu, as they played a keyboard and electronically based set that showcased them to be very tight live performers, with plenty of potential to go as well. The majority of their songs stuck to the dancy side of indie rock, but don't think that Savoir Adore makes anything close to shallow club music. Vocalist Deidre Muro has a beautifully sweet voice, shown off best during their midset ballad. Muro's voice echoed throughout the venue, while ambient guitar riffs and plenty of reverb asserted the ballad as one of their best and most powerful songs of the night. In fact, unlike many synthesizer based groups, the band's guitarists actually may have been the best musicians on the stage. The band's two latest singles "Dreamers" and "Sea Of Gold" were also among the best songs of the night, and should be on the band's upcoming full length. The vocals of Paul Hammer were used more prominently in these new tracks, and while they were a tad low in the mix, his harmonies with Muro were fantastic. The two new songs definitely showed an exciting direction for Savoir Adore, and their new album will absolutely be something worth looking forward to hearing.

Washington, DC is the hometown for Jukebox The Ghost, and the reaction when they walked on stage was definitely indicative of the return of these hometown heroes. An enormous scream exploded from the crowd as the trio began to play Safe Travels highlight "Adulthood," and although the album had only come out two weeks before the show, it was clear that everyone had already worn out their own copies, as every lyric of every song throughout the night was sung along. In fact, 12 of the 13 songs on Safe Travels were played, making this night a perfect hometown album release show. 

While it was tough for Jukebox The Ghost to imitate the full sound of the new record with only three members and no overdubs or backtracking, they didn't let that get in their way, and also used the live setting to their advantage. They improvised often throughout the night, such as Ben Thornewell's extra piano rhythms in "Hold It In" and the entire band's extended jam in "Say When." Also, while the crowd shouldn't have been surprised or shocked, Thornewell's perfect rendition of his vocally challenging track "Devils On Our Side" mesmerized the crowd and secured his current vocal talent miles above where he started on Let Live & Let Ghosts.

The show may have been focused on showcasing the new songs live, but the older songs received some of the biggest responses of the night. "Miss Templeton's 7000th Dream" into "Static" always receives a huge crowd reaction, and the enormous crowd went crazy at the first sound of the latter's opening guitar riff. The band also changed gears at the last second to play "My Heart's The Same" into "Lighting Myself On Fire" in the encore, a decision that pleased the rabid crowd greatly. Jukebox The Ghost then closed with "Good Day," the opener of their first album, giving the final song to their oldest fans and proving that they are a band that sincerely cares about how far they've come in just a few short years. That one subtle message is what moves Jukebox from just a great live act to one of the best to come around this year.

Jukebox The Ghost Facebook
Savoir Adore Facebook
Tereu Tereu Facebook

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