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A review of Ghostland Observatory's Music Farm show

Lasers and synthesizers

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Ghostland Observatory
Music Farm
Oct. 7

Some key things to remember when going to a Ghostland Observatory show:  expect a lot of knob turning, wear comfortable shoes, and don’t invite your epileptic friend.

It’s safe to say that Ghostland Observatory isn’t the most musically gifted duo. Lead singer Aaron Behrens picked up his guitar once or twice, and Thomas Ross Turner, who supposedly plays drums and keys, stuck mostly to manning the synth knob.

But Ghostland Observatory never claimed to be a symphony. They’ve built their niche following in the past four years by delivering a rave-like show with impressive lasers and strobe lights. Paired with their futuristic pop songs, it’s a glow stick-dancer delight.

The night started with a kind of overture that had the same stomp-clap rhythm as “We Will Rock You,” a promise they certainly fulfilled. The night progressed with vigor and kept the crowd dancing on through favorites like “Silver City” and the fast-paced “Move With Your Lover.”

But since Ghostland Observatory has performed at the Music Farm several times before, it felt like they were playing it safe. One audience member could be heard saying, “Nothing has changed except they added a few new lasers. It’s still not what it could be.” More variation would have served them well.

Some songs were repetitive and similarly structured, a flaw poorly concealed by the heavy synthesizers and strobe lights. But perhaps Ghostland had no other option. One of Behrens’ only “guitar solos” of the night was unimpressive and bored the crowd instantly, leaving even the most jacked up audience member confused and hungry for more synth.

They followed up their flop with “Codename: Rhondo,” a slower song with the same name as their newest album. Behrens built the tension back up with whispery vocals as he crawled across the stage like a caged tiger. With an explosive return of the synth, the show – and Behrens - was back on its feet.

They kept up the momentum ‘til the bitter end. Finally they mixed up the set with a closing number that seemed to channel their inner Daft Punk. The deviation was risky but certainly refreshing. With the three-year-old hits growing stale, I would have liked to see more of this side of Ghostland that night. But by the looks of the sweat-drenched crowd, Ghostland Observatory gave them what they came for.

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