October 8, 2009

Live Review: Ghost and the City

Rickshaw Stop // San Francisco, CA // Oct. 1, 2009

Deep, haunting vocals and a dark cabaret set the stage at the Rickshaw Stop, taking an unusual step out of the norm and into a Kafkaesque reality where one's mind exists in the beautiful nightmare known as Ghost and the City. The band – consisting of 10 members on keys, drums, violin, cello, bass, trombone, sax and trumpet – took the stage all dressed in black with white armbands, pulling the audience out of the trendy setting and into a distant, classical era.

The band begins to play and their sound stands apart from what is normally heard in the world of modern music, reminiscent of the intensity found in classic blues. The music created by Ghost and the City is dark and dramatic while maintaining a sense of beauty. The lead singer's vocals are raspy and serrated, reminiscent of Jim Morrison’s unsteady yet captivating style. Aiding the male singer is a female backup vocalist, chiming in every so often with an alluring jazzy and vintage-styled harmony that juxtaposes the rough and calloused style of her male counterpart.

Although the music is dark and daunting at points, the band provides the audience with breaks in the intensity by intertwining delicate string pieces with the poundings of the keys. The style of piano played on the stage reflects that of dramatic performers such as Amanda Palmer of The Dresden Dolls, in the sense that the keys are a prop for the performer as well as a musical device. Throughout the show, the music provides a complex intensity, pulling the audience into the singer’s emotions and somber memories. All in all, Ghost in the City is a band that provides more than a show, but rather a musical experience, delighting the eyes and ears with a sense of theatrical showmanship.

Review and photos by Stephanie Dotto


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