Have you ever noticed going out to see a band you're unfamiliar with on a total whim can make for a great evening? Like, let's say you're a dude who's into college indie rock and somehow find yourself at some hair-metal dive in a far corner of Northeast prying some greasy old Rush groupie's fingers from your beer and your belt buckle. It's not what you're into but you opened your mind and life's path for a new experience and funny tale (it'll be funny to you after some Tide and a shower). As music fans, we need experiences like this. Sometimes hitting the shows we'd otherwise skip is exactly the shakeup our scene-stupefied brains -- and ears -- need.
I knew nothing about the Austin duo Ghostland Observatory before Saturday night's venue-rattling show at the Cabooze except that someone told me they sound "like Cut Copy and are on Ghostly International" (neither of which is true) and the show was a hefty $25. But upon entering the old biker hangout, I knew it was going to be a killer night as a huge schmorgasboard of Twin Citians had grinned-and-beared the ticket price and amassed together in front of the stage as opening DJ Jonathan Ackerman (Moongoons) spun Michael Jackson and Daft Punk. Patrons seemed to appreciate it but no one danced, they were too focused. They were electric with nearly tangible anticipation.
Coming out of the gate strong with 2008's "Piano Man" (their best to date, I've discovered) warranted gasps of "Oh my god, they're so good," and "Dude! What!" from revelers, the track like a raved out Led Zepplin riot. Next up was "Sad Sad City", which had the audience chanting along with Behrens ("I / Need you / To Want me / To hold me / To tell me the truth"), who was pulling some pretty entertaining Mic Jagger shapes in his pigtails and aviator shades. A++ on the dance moves, man.
Though the crowd's energy was consistent and matched Behrens', the same couldn't be said for the music as the night wound down. Ghostland definitely fired off their best jams first, leaving the second half of the show wanting. If only a few more tracks had the same take-no-prisoners vibe as "Piano Man", it could have been one to contend with in year-end lists, no doubt (Might be a good time to point out not all of their stuff is balls-to-the-wall rock-n-rave -- "Mightnight Voyage" is also a lovely slower tempo song to check out, definitely in that Pink Floyd vein). Despite the lag, the boys from Austin and their classic rock rave-up definitely awakened some eardrums, mine included. Next time you're looking to really clean those suckers out, hit up a Ghostland show, and in the meantime, play pin-the-tail-on-the-club-calendar and check out something you normally might pishaw.
GO perform "Piano Man" on Saturday in Minneapolis (crowd roar at the end is great):What came after the opening DJ set looked like a mashup of Tron, Dazed And Confused, and The Wall, except modernized through the lens of a band who likely loves classic rock as much as Justice, Daft Punk and other electronic heavyweights. A plume of smoke swirled onto the stage to applause before frontman Aaron Behrens (who kind of looks like Slater) joined caped crusader Thomas Turner, who sat next to keys and drums, programming deafening, monstrous beats that instantly got laser-highlighted heads nodding with fervor. Yes, lasers. So many lasers it was almost cartoonish.