Jukebox the Ghost brought the warmth and a rocking dance party to Skully’s of Columbus this past Friday February 13th.
The piano-rock trio have been touring their new self-titled album since November. The band’s fourth album, “Jukebox the Ghost” was released in late October. The eleven song collection presents Jukebox with a more evolved and produced sound than ever before. The album is full of Jukebox firsts, including a bassline and vocals from their drummer, Jesse.
For this record, Jukebox the Ghost teamed up again with Los Angeles-based producer Dam Romer, who has worked with the likes of Jenny Owen Youngs, Ingrid Michaelson and A Great Big World. He also produced the band’s previous album, “Safe Travels”. Pianist Ben Thornewill, guitarist Tommy Siegel and drummer Jesse Kristin have taken risks that have paid off with not only some of their best work, but a very successful tour. Venues thus far have been more crowded and the lines outside have been even longer.
The diner and bar atmosphere of Skully’s had a warm feel. Alternative jams emanated from the speakers in a dimly lit ambiance as guests chowed down in anticipation of the 8:30 PM show.
First to the stage were Secret Someones. The passionate band is compromised of a trio of beautiful songwriters and the most expressive drummer under the sun. Armed with aggressive guitar rhythms, wonderful hooks, and absolutely exquisite harmonies, Secret Someones captured attention and applause from the packed house. The powerful four thrilled with messages of empowerment, standing on your own, and a spectacular cover of Nirvana’s “Bloom”.
While dressed like true, individual rockstars, Secret Someones was certainly a welcome sight. With their energetic performance, they made it known loud and clear that passionate, all-girl (with the exception of the drummer) super groups are still out there, and capable of hitting hard.
Second up was Little Daylight, a sharp synth-pop group who are touring in support of their debut album, “Hello Memory”. The band got the crowd dancing with rhythmic, electronic jams and a steady bassline. At times, two members blended different rhythms while drumming together. Little Daylight presented exceptionally catchy tunes, and danceable beats with heavy rhythm and light harmonies. In addition, they mixed in a variety of slower, more reflective songs and an exciting, original take on David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”. With clever lyrics about living life, Mona Lisa smiles and love, the band surely created some new fans in the crowd, as well as delighting the few who had come out already knowing their music.
After having operated the lights for both opening acts, Jukebox the Ghost hit the stage at 10:30 sharp. They opened with “Postcard”, an upbeat, uplifting tune that they played last month on Conan.
The power-pop trio, who met in college, are professionals at rocking the house and intelligent, humorous stage banter. Singing, dancing and clapping along were encouraged as Jukebox played both songs from the new album as well as hits from the previous three.
During a track about insanity called “Schizophrenia”, the band tossed out a stuffed animal dog to crowd surf. Jukebox’s set included songs sure to brighten the day of anyone going through heartbreak, encouragement about new beginnings, reflective ballads on taking chances and even a tune about catching fire.
Around the middle of the set, the drummer (with a smile and one hand of fingernails painted black) stepped out from behind the drum kit. Much to the delight of the cheering crowd, he showcased his first ever vocal intro into the song “Hollywood”. When the beat kicked back in, everyone clapped along in unison.
In the midst of a stripped down version of 2008’s punk-like uprising tune, “Static”, someone in the crowd yelled, “EVERYONE MUST DANCE!” When the song ended, Ben Thornewill invited everyone to take heed as he immediately started into a cover of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”. Jumping and vigorous dancing subsequently ensued for the five hundred or so in the crowd full of smiles.
After the Queen cover, all but Ben exited the stage. The classically trained pianist joked that the band had quit on him as he segued into a solo performance of the ballad “Undeniable You”. With a looper pedal, he created an own voice chorus, layering in Queen-like harmony. Videos on phones and cameras were rolling, while mesmerized looks passed through the front row.
Thornewill exited the stage and a sea of hands continued clapping. After a couple of minutes, the band returned for a three song encore. Without his guitar in hand, Tommy Siegel began singing the heartfelt “Show Me Where It Hurts”, accompanied only by piano.
To close out the night, Jukebox were joined back on stage by members of Secret Someones and Little Daylight to perform a spirited rendition of the 80’s Bangles classic “Walk Like An Egyptian”.
After the show, each of the three bands stuck around to sign autographs and take pictures with every single fan who was waiting.
Having previously been under the direction of the label Yep Roc, the Jukebox triad recently signed over to Cherrytree Records. A re-release of “Jukebox the Ghost” is in the works. With a new direction, TV appearances, and more buzz than ever before, the sky’s the limit for this talented Brooklyn-based trio. They seem to be touring their way right to the top.
Jukebox the Ghost played at the Common Ground Festival in Lansing last summer and recently headlined in Grand Rapids. They’re likely to be dotting the Midwest and the rest of the country on a tour this summer (they’ve been touring almost non-stop for almost ten years!). For anyone interested in catching a show, be prepared for a charming band who will make you dance and create one-on-one moments with every fan who sticks around to talk to them.
They even have Jukebox the Ghost logo-shaped air fresheners for sale to put on your car mirror for the journey…
Words and photos by: Tiffany Cuthrell