all words: Zach Goldbaum
all WOW photos: Jeff Martin
Ghostland offers a glam rock twist to electro punk, which comes across as a trainwreck on their last two albums but couldn’t be more fun to watch on stage. The duo takes cues from artists as varied as Daft Punk and Prince to put on a show that is infinitely entertaining, both musically and visually.
Thomas Turner, the “electric octopus,” looked like he was at the helm of a space ship, as he managed an impressive array of synths and drum machines from his stage right cockpit. For Ghostland, no sound is off-limits, which is a good and bad thing. There’s the sweeping synth sounds and singer Aaron Behren’s impassioned wailing (the good), there’s the corny laser noises that literally sound like, “pchu! pchu!” (the bad), and then there’s the heavy use of theremin sounds that evoke carnivalesque haunted houses (the ugly). All together though, it fits, particularly in the live setting where any musical issues can be overlooked for sheer entertainment value. The rest of the stage was cleared for Aaron to gyrate, vibrate, and increase our collective heart rates. The man has unbridled stamina and there wasn’t a moment during the show where he stayed put. His endless stream of energy makes him one of the best frontmen in rock.
They played a solid mix of the new and old, and it seemed like the majority of folks were more familiar and more into the old. They opened with “Glitter,” one of the only decent tracks off Codename: Rondo. Then they went into “Piano Man,” which killed and Thomas Turner’s piano solo sounded as crisp as it does on the album despite the chaos of the surrounding instrumentals. Paparazzi Lightning was the show’s saving grace, with tracks “Midnight Voyage,” “Vibrate,” and “Move with Your Lover” all receiving worthy renditions. There was also a kind of sinister cover of Prince’s “Darling Nikki” which would have been cool had it not been such a downer. People danced and grooved throughout but no song elicited the collective crowd-moan approval of another Paparazzi Lightning favorite: “Sad Sad City,” which they played second to last.
Ghostland supplements their performance with an incredible laser light show. The elaborate configurations made me feel like Catherine Zeta Jones in Entrapment, weaving through alarmed lasers in a leather onesie. They webbed over the audience, shot directly out at them, or fanned out over them, creating a sort of underwater experience (or over water, depending on if you were on the balconies). I’m pretty sure I sustained lasting retnal damage, but it was all worth it.