Ghostland Observatory @ Mr. Smalls 8/12

Posted By on Aug 23, 2012 | 0 comments


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I’d been a fan of G.O. since the days you could only order their music from their website. Hell, it might have even been a MySpace page. No guarantees on that. I knew nothing about the band other than that it was two dudes. One did the beats and one did everything else. I’d not seen them live, clearly, and thus had no idea what kind of crowd frequented a Ghostland Observatory performance. I didn’t know anyone else that listened to G.O. Do you know anyone that listens to G.O.? Probably not.

Ghostland Observatory

Ghostland Observatory, photo by Ben Rowland (www.benrowlandphotography.com)

So I’m hanging out in my usual place in the Mr. Small Booze Tank (just the back half of the venue) and I’m seeing people wandering around with glow-stick necklaces, glow stick bracelets and, yes, even old fashioned plain old glow sticks. So instead of a traditional boring recap, I will retell my experience through my Tweets.

 

 

 

 

…and occasionally my mind wandered over to the Olympic Closing Ceremonies which were on the television just over my shoulder to the right.

 

 

 

Now that you’ve read the tweets, I’ll present my pictorial recap that might help make sense of the sudden acceptance of the glowstick phenomenon.

 

Ghostland Observatory laser show @ Mr. Smalls 8/12

Ghostland Observatory laser show @ Mr. Smalls 8/12

Ghostland Observatory laser show @ Mr. Smalls 8/12

Ghostland Observatory laser show @ Mr. Smalls 8/12

Ghostland Observatory laser show @ Mr. Smalls 8/12

Ghostland Observatory laser show @ Mr. Smalls 8/12

 

But, yes, the show… Ghostland Observatory is comprised of the beats guy in the cape (Thomas Ross Turner) and the singer/guitar/frontman guy (Aaron Kyle Behrens). Their music has been described as “electro-dance soul rock.” Hence why I was confused about being at a rave. I’d always focused on the electro and rock part of the sound that didn’t necessarily require glow thingamabobs.

Here’s a video of a 2007 performance that gives you a good idea of the dynamic, laser show included.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQ5xy62_qBU[/tube]

Aaron Kyle Behrens is a game frontman. He called out to the audience a couple times during the show, discussing how they were creating a shared energy. And truly it was an energetic crowd, one of the most lively I’ve seen at Mr. Smalls. Behrens encourages the give and take between performer and audience. As the only foregrounded member of the band, G.O. shows are a conversation between Behrens and the rave-like crowd. Rock the microphone and dance. Rock the microphone and hammer away on a guitar. Basically there’s a lot gyrating, like a street performer, begging for attention. But he doesn’t have to beg for the attention, there’s no competition and all eyes are already on him. Turner remains in the darkness behind his bandmate, surrounded by his wall of synths and computers. For much of the show, all you can see of Turner is his hands. It was hard to tell if this was an intended result or just a happy lighting coincidence (but considering the elaborately choreographed light and laser show, I’d guess the former). As a result Turner appeared to preside over the show like a god, pulling the strings, manipulating us all with his omnipresent powers of electrofunkery.

Ghostland put on a show that broke the barrier between crowd and performer. Ghostland not only hosted the party, they were the party. Before the show I couldn’t help but listen in on groups and their conversations. At the bar, flying solo, this is what you do. The dynamic of these groups followed similar patterns. One person knew Ghostland Observatory before the show and/or had seen them before and dragged a bunch of people along with the promise of a good time. So it seems that I wasn’t alone in not knowing anyone that listened to G.O. The stunning thing about this show was, in fact, that by the end you couldn’t tell the difference between the fans and the people that just got dragged along to enjoy the spectacle.

 

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