Live Review: Holy Ghost!, Fillmore, 6/3/2010

Verdict: wish it was more bananas

By Peter Galvin

While much of the mainstream is still poking fun at the hair bands and taking pot-shots at the easy-listening fluff, the '80s have snuck back in for a full-on revival. Kids who grew up in the decade of Ninja Turtles and parachute pants surely have the fondest memories, and two of those kids play poker-faced homages to the era as Holy Ghost! Full of flashy synths and smooth vocals, Holy Ghost goes a step beyond the copycat ambiance of Ariel Pink or the sly winking of Francis and the Lights or Chromeo, passing up tongue-in-cheek for reverence.

The band played a flawless five song set in the opening slot for LCD Soundsystem on Thursday night, with the duo of Alex Frankel and Nick Millhiser filling out to six members who played it tight and close to the vest. Drum conversations between Millhiser and Frankel were synched perfectly, their clean sound much better suited to a live setting than headphones. Five songs felt a bit short, but, with just the Static on the Wire EP (DFA) out, it may well have been the extent of the band’s music at this point.

With the draw of the headliner the way James Murphy injects contempo beats onto '70s art-rock music, Holy Ghost!’s deadpan renditions may have been too much for The Fillmore’s more mainstream concert-goers. Reading the hesitation in the crowd, Millhiser spoke little and thanked the audience “for sitting through our set” before launching into their final song of the night. Inclusion on the DFA roster guarantees any band a ton of reviews and buzz, but I wonder if joining LCD Soundsystem on their US tour will win Holy Ghost! many fans of their own in the long run. I’d certainly love to see them return as headliners.