Review: Ghosty and White Whale at the Eight Street Tap Room

I finally figured out that the concert times listed in Lawrence publications doesn't necessarily mean the band kicks off their set at that time. It's more of guide for folks who want to snag a decent seat or who want to finish up their smokes. Last night, I bounced into the Eighth Street Tap Room an hour after what was publicized and found enough time to snag a seat at the bar and order a cocktail.

I didn't want to miss a minute of the local up-and-coming indie pop band Ghosty. I was looking forward to this concert after listening to Lawrence locals hyping the group, who have academic roots at KU. Last night, loyal fans packed the basement. Front row folks stood toe-to-toe with Andrew Connor on guitar and lead vocals, Mike Nolte on bass, David Wetzel on the keyboard and Josh Adams on drums. Connor said guitarist Jeff Ferrell couldn't make it down to Lawrence last night.

Honestly, my first taste of Ghosty felt anti-climatic. The local band launched their set with a quiet number. Maybe they were going for an understated but cool and hip style. To a first-time audience member such as myself, that approach came off as cool and distant, to point of not being involved with crowd's energy.

Ghosty's tender ballads faded into the walls and failed to make any lasting impression on me. I started nodding along when they picked up the pace with more rockin' numbers.

I figured this couldn't be all Ghosty had to offer. So this morning, I hopped online and checked out music from their new album "Growing Up or Sleeping In" on Future Farmer Records in San Francisco. What a difference a studio recording makes! I finally got a chance to experience their melodic brilliance on those tracks something that didn't come across the stage last night.

Most of the crowd slinked away after Ghosty left the stage and missed out on a fantastic set by White Whale. Matt Suggs re-invented his band and the results bring us a compelling and developed sound that explores hints of jazz, dissonance, shoegaze pop and more.

Suggs did lead guitar and vocals along with John Anderson on drums, Rob Pope on bass guitar and synthesizers plus Dustin Kinsey on guitar, keyboard and synthesizers.

I enjoyed the other innovative ways they created harmonies, like when Suggs used a loud speaker to warp his vocals on the mic. They treated each song with depth and intensity and left me wanting more. I'm happy I stuck around for White Whale. After the show, one band member told me they're aiming for a September release date for their debut CD.

It was a surprising evening. I started off with high expectations for Ghosty and caught the band on an off night. In the end, I felt like I got my money's worth ($2.00 cover charge) with White Whale and their moody mix of melancholic, yet hopeful, music.


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