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Ghostland Observatory

June 14, 2008

These guys played a show at Richard’s on Richards on the 27th, and there was no way in hell I was going to miss it. They’ve been one of my favourite bands since I discovered them about two years ago; and I’ve checked regularly for tour dates involving Vancouver (or Waterloo, while I was there) and seen nothing.

Really, If I hadn’t happened to see a posting for tickets in the window of Red Cat Records on Main there, I would have missed the show entirely – I’d not seen posters or anything.  Last.fm was equally unhelpful.  However, for the cheap-at-the-cost price of $24, I snagged a ticket and flew solo, given that Strenua bailed on me.

I arrived about an hour and a half after doors opened, and I rather expected to be stuck near the back of the crowd, but apparently everyone there was too scene to take the front row yet, so I grabbed a drink and snagged a spot against the stage, attaching myself to a random who also had a spot there.  We chatted for an hour or so before Ghostland took the stage.

Then, it happened.  The boys took the stage.  Somehow, they were everything but what I’d expected.  There were only two of them; I’d somehow imagined it’d either be a one-man act or a full band, but the DJ (Thomas Ross Turner) was also the drummer, and the singer (Aaron Behrens) did guitar for the tracks that needed it.  I don’t have a good photo of Thomas from that show, but he reminds me of the penultimate giant basement dweller, with a stage presence that has that unique awkward charisma sometimes found in that demographic.  And he was wearing a giant, baby-blue cape, apparently his signature gimmick.  (An interview I read after the fact had him quoted as having asked his wife for something so unfashionable that no one else could mistake it for irony, and so odd that no one else would be doing it.)  Aaron was dressed in skintight jeans, some of the most effeminate cowboy boots I’ve ever seen, an odd blouse, and a pair of av’s, capped off with a pair of braided pigtails.

He’s also one of the most phenominal dancers I’ve ever seen on stage as a performer; apparently having a background in dance as well as singing.  Whenever he wasn’t singing or playing guitar, he was dancing onstage, and doing it very, very well.  The only photo I have that come close to capturing this doesn’t really show him, but seems to have had me and my new friend in the focus, framed by the legs of Aaron as he was dancing mid-track.

They are one of the highest energy acts I’ve ever seen on stage – with two guys managing to equal both Gogol Bordello and Kaiser Chiefs in terms of out-and-out best shows to attend; while I was stoked to get them in the intimacy of Richards, I’m a little choked that they didn’t warrant a show at Commodore – the floor there is better for dancing, and they certainly deserved the attention that that would have garnered them.  (Apparently, their last show in Vancouver had 30 people, tops.  They completely packed Richards, this time.)

They play a stikingly unusual (I couldn’t lower myself to call them unique, but in all fairness, I still can’t think of anyone else they’re similar to, so…) dance-electronic-punk-pop, akin to an unholy union between a top-shelf Industrial/Rave DJ and 80’s Glam, with a few helpings of Elvis and punk rock thrown in for good measure.  But even that long-winded and imprecise description cheapens the odd captivating quality of the band’s music.  I don’t love it so much in spite of it’s grating, obnoxious sound, but because of it.  It’s highly energetic, tense music that seems to have been carefully crafted and scripted to be the perfect middle ground for dancing, whether you prefer a punk show’s mosh pit or raving or grinding it out to a club DJ, it all seems to work perfectly to this stuff.  Here’s their Wikipedia entry, just for good measure: Ghostland Observatory.

If you can’t already tell, I’m a huge fan.  In short, I wish these boys were local, just so I could see more shows from them.  They’re fantastic, if somewhat obnoxious, party music, and the world needs more fun acts like this.

Edit – Another photo I found, which manages to sort of show off Thomas’ cape, while also capturing a dancing Aaron.  This is pretty awesome, though not quite reaching the awesome factor of the previous two.  It also comes close to showing how high energy the shows tend to be.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. timmy permalink
    June 15, 2008 2:31 pm

    hey, join us on the ghostland forums
    ghostlandobservatory.net

    Not to seem like a contentious asshole, but … Why?

    What does the community do that’s new and special and interesting? I love the music, the band is awesome, but how do the forums do anything to further my connection to that?

    …Every other band forum I’ve ever joined has been 6 rabid fans and a hundred or so people just looking for another place to hang out and act like 12-year-olds.

  2. June 15, 2008 10:56 pm

    Replied.

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