Jukebox The Ghost plays Indy as the world watches

On a recent stop in Indianapolis Jukebox the Ghost took over Deluxe at Old National Centre, bringing their friends Secret Someones, Twin Forks and even the Yahoo! Live crew along with them!

Brooklyn-based Secret Someones, whose Twitter bio describes them as being “like Weezer, but with boobies” kicked things off at 7:30, filling the room with guitar-driven pop-rock songs that had the melody of a Go-Go’s song, the attitude and grit of 90’s “Bitch”-rocker Meredith Brooks, and the weaving harmonies of Tegan and Sara.

Towards the end of their set they gave a nod to the 90’s as they performed a highly respectable cover of Nirvana’s “Breed”…this wasn’t watered down at all- it was played with all the speed and intensity of the original, but Secret Someones added in their signature harmonies during the chorus, making for an incredibly pleasing rendition that Cobain himself, being the pop fan that he was, would have most assuredly given his stamp of approval on.

Normally I’m not a big fan of female vocals, but they completely won me over. All three girls seem to have a deep understanding of their voice and how it fits and meshes with the other two, so it was fascinating to watch (and a real treat to listen to) as they would come together and break away throughout their set, knowing exactly when and where to sprinkle in bits of harmony to accent and underline just the right parts of a song.

The biggest surprise of the night came from Twin Forks, the folk-rock group born of the concoction of Dashboard Confessional, The Bad Books, and The Narrative.  Soft-spoken vocalist Sara Bost asked the crowd how they were doing, to which lead singer Chris Carrabba, with a good-humored sense of disgust in his voice accused Bost of being too sweet and turned to re-address the with a “How the fuck are you doing, y’all?! What’s up?!” before launching in to Can’t Be Broken.

The pop sensibilities of Secret Someone’s seemed to fit the overall vibe of a Jukebox The Ghost show, but I wouldn’t have imagined an Americana band like Twin Forks being on the bill. That being said, it ended up being fantastic. The energy on stage during their set was infectious and it was clear the crowd loved it. Carrabba’s tenured experience as a front-man shone brightly as he clearly felt comfortable interacting with the crowd without an ounce of timidity.

The small stage was almost overwhelmed with gear and band members, but it only added to the energy in the room. As they sang the whimsical ‘Cross My Mind, Carrabba instructed the crowd to sing the along to the little melodic hook throughout the song- a task the crowd was more than happy to undertake. Unfortunately, earnestness doesn’t always guarantee success, and the crowd’s enthusiasm was no match for their unfamiliarity with the song, resulting in a few awkward stop-and-starts at the end of each measure, but this only added to the joy of the moment, as band and crowd alike would burst in to laughter each time before taking the cue from one another to continue on for another measure.

As Twin Forks made their way off stage the crowd settled in for a fairly long wait for Jukebox the Ghost to make their appearance on stage. Fortunately, the crowd was in good spirits and didn’t seem to mind, and soon enough Jukebox’s opening track started to play and the band made their way to the stage.

The band’s stop in Indianapolis wasn’t just any ordinary show, but was in fact being broadcast around the world through Yahoo! Live. This definitely put a bit of added pressure to pull off a great performance, but early in the set the band started to experience minor technical difficulties involving Ben Thornewill’s monitors (eventually requiring the monitor to be switched out in the middle of the set)

Throughout all of this the 3-piece band were able to maintain a cheerful attitude and kept the energy high. Even if one merely skims the band’s material it’s difficult to imagine a Jukebox the Ghost show where the atmosphere was anything but jovial, as the shimmering piano-pop melodies bring to mind a fusion of Jack’s Mannequin and Ben Folds Five.

With their crisp collared shirts and sleekly coiffed hair, the Jukebox boys looked squeaky clean- as though they would fit right in with the fictious Oneders from Tom Hanks’ “That Thing You Do” even as Thornewill chirped “I couldn’t tell if you were a bitch, or totally bitchin” during Victoria, or “we’re gonna burn this mother fucker down” during Static, both off of 2008’s Let Live & Let Ghost. During segways between songs the band shared stories of their adventures involving Midwest sushi and jokes told to children on New York subways, further endearing themselves to the audience.

One of the biggest highlights of their set was during the song Long Way Home, where guitarist Tommy Siegel traded his electric guitar and bass for an acoustic guitar. Siegel and Ben Thornewill wove their vocals throughout the mournful track. This was a nice change of pace and showcased a different side of their songwriting. I would have liked to see a bit more of that side of them, but maybe its brevity allowed me to appreciate it more than I would have otherwise?

Overall I was pretty impressed with their show. As a 3-piece band their sound was incredibly full, with surprisingly minimal reliance on loops or tracks. The variety of styles showcased amongst the three different bands was a real treat, making for a night full of fun and dancing- whether to pop melodies or folk stompers.