I was hoping to increase the frequency of these posts. But it would seem that I’m still stuck with authoring one or two a week. Unfortunately, at the moment, it can’t be helped. I’ve stumbled upon some unexpected, but extremely welcome, freelance work that’s popped up for the month. And with cramming all the Xmas prep in the spaces between, time just doesn’t seem like a luxury I have right now.
Anyway, that’s my ongoing and familiar excuse, until I have a better one … or in a perfect world, more time, energy and all that other good stuff that allows me to keep on keeping on.
That said, I’ve opted to reach back into my backlog of semi-abandoned posts, and resurrect a very entertaining show from Brooklyn’s disco soulful indie dance act Holy Ghost! This performance, one of two at the Teragram Ballroom in DTLA, marked the end of a lengthy tour for the New York duo of Alex Frankel and Nick Millhiser, who tour with four additional members for their live stints.
In all honesty, I have a lot of these shows sitting in a virtual pile of megabits and gigabytes. Some of these, I intended to share in the last few months. But as I’ve mentioned in previous entries, I’m taking a pseudo break from this particular blog-based hobby/addiction. So they come when they come. And Holy Ghost! came tonight. You know, it sounds kind of obscene, when I put it that way … in a spirit-busting kind of way, of course. Anyway …
Let’s get started …
I remember hearing Holy Ghost! for the first time back in 2013, at the once mighty, now defunct FYF Fest that used to be held at the L.A. State Historic Park near Chinatown in DTLA. I actually didn’t get to see them at that performance. It was late and I was leaving the fest after a semi-botched sound system sabotaged headliners My Bloody Valentine. The disappointment was palpable.
So I was leaving the fest, and I heard Holy Ghost! playing “Dance a Little Closer.” There were many leaving the venue in a similar state of unfulfillment. And as the masses exited, these Brooklynites managed to lift the spirits with that particular track, motivating the cue to move and groove, all while shuffling back to their preferred method of exodus transport. After all these years, it’s still one of those clear, optimistic memories that I associate with their music
Fortunately, a few months later, I was able to catch Holy Ghost! headline the Fonda Theatre. And that’s always the better deal, when matched against a festival set. So with those good vibes intact, I was able to attend that show fulfilled and content. Not to mention, witness a fuckin’ fantastic performance, a near-perfect contemporary blend of ’70s disco boogie soul and funkalicious freak-out funk, mashed into a stylish synth-wave, dance-centric, indie rock extravaganza. Plus, the duo carried a full complement of musicians and an array of vintage keyboards. All good stuff.
That’s my backstory. And the moral is that I’ve always wanted to see them again. I hear they hit L.A. sometime in the last year. But technical difficulties ultimately marred that performance. At least, that seems to be the sentiment, according to frontman Frankel, who mentioned it during last month’s performance. He also mentioned that the Teragram shows (I attended the first one on 11.02.19) were going to be their last ones for awhile … something about taking a break and meditating on the future of things. It didn’t sound like a break-up. More like a hiatus. They’ve been together since 2007, so fair enough.
This latest and somewhat “final” tour marked the band’s third album “Work,” a slick, smooth, slippery slice of groove-induced hip-shaking fun, which may not quite have the infectious catchiness of prior popular tunes, but more than makes up for with effortless sophistication and rhythmic soul. Curiously, though, they only performed 3 tracks from that release, instead treating the sold-out crowd to a pleasing selection of earlier works.
I’m not going to get into the specifics of the 15 song set, since I’m just not in the mood. Plus, my cat is hounding me for attention, so I need to wrap this up soon. I’ll say this much. They played a rousing version of “Dumb Disco Ideas,” which I feel is still my favorite from these guys. Also, there was an expected rendition of John Carpenter’s “Halloween” theme. And to my slight dismay, they omitted “Dance a Little Closer” from the setlist, as well as my favorite track from the new album “Heaven Knows What,” which I’ve heard has appeared in previous shows. Oh well … can’t have it all.
In lieu of a proper review, I’ve included nine tracks from Holy Ghost!’s Teragram performance in the footage featured below. It’s got the aforementioned highlights, exempting said omissions, as well as a bunch of other favorites, like “Okay,” “Do It Again, and “Hold On.” I figure this footage will communicate the spirit and mood of the night better than I ever could put into words. I’ve also attached the setlist/playlist at the end for good measure.
Holy Ghost! perform “Crime Cutz” @ the Teragram Ballroom on 11.02.19.
Holy Ghost! perform “Hold On” @ the Teragram Ballroom on 11.02.19.
Holy Ghost! perform “Okay” @ the Teragram Ballroom on 11.02.19.
Holy Ghost! perform “Compass Point” @ the Teragram Ballroom on 11.02.19.
Holy Ghost! perform “Do It Again” @ the Teragram Ballroom on 11.02.19.
Holy Ghost! perform “Do This” @ the Teragram Ballroom on 11.02.19.
Holy Ghost! perform “Dumb Disco Ideas” @ the Teragram Ballroom on 11.02.19.
Holy Ghost! perform the theme to “Halloween,” followed by “Wait & See” @ the Teragram Ballroom on 11.02.19.
Holy Ghost! perform “It Gets Dark” @ the Teragram Ballroom on 11.02.19.