As I waded through the dull, lifeless crowd on Saturday at Eyeclops Studios before Jukebox the Ghost came out, I thought I must have stumbled into a wax museum.
Despite Drink Up Buttercup’s best efforts, showcasing excellent stage presence with lots of energy and enthusiasm, the crowd simply could not be swayed; they were here to see Jukebox the Ghost and would settle for nothing less. And so they simply stared down Drink Up Buttercup until their set was over.
It’s a shame too, since Drink Up Buttercup actually put on a great show. They played catchy, energetic music, tried to joke and interact with the crowd and worked up sweats from leaping around stage so much. I don’t think I’ve ever watched someone bang on a trash can lid with so much fervor. Yet the crowd remained totally motionless.
Probably one of the most awkwardly gratifying experiences to have at a concert is to literally be the only one dancing. Sure, it’s kind of embarrassing for the people I came with, but somebody needed to start the show. What’s the point of going to a concert if you’re just going to stand there?
On the other hand, considering that my group had called ahead in an attempt to arrive just as Jukebox the Ghost were coming on, completely missing The Vermillions and most of Drink Up Buttercup, I can’t really be too self-righteous. We were just adding to the mob of people there for Jukebox the Ghost.
The crowd politely clapped and cheered as Drink Up Buttercup left the stage, but I couldn’t tell if they were actually clapping for Drink Up Buttercup’s performance or if they were just excited that Jukebox the Ghost were finally going to play.
Either way, when Jukebox the Ghost came on stage, the crowd began to show signs of life. They sang along, clapped to the beat, and suddenly I wasn’t the only one dancing anymore. Mind you, that’s only if you stretch your definition of “dancing” to include “awkward shuffling from side to side.” Eventually the crowd shed some of their self-consciousness and started having fun, but they definitely had a rough start.
Then again, so did Jukebox the Ghost’s performance. A girl with a hand covering her mouth and nose ran through the crowd toward the bathroom, discovering the most effective way to get out of tightly packed social situations quickly. Minutes later, an overwhelming stench permeated the room until even the band itself couldn’t help but comment on it.
“It smells so bad in here,” laughed one of the band members between songs. An Eyeclops Studios employee lit a handful of incense to combat the odor, eliciting cheers from the crowd and the band. “We’ll only play mellow songs from now on,” they joked.
Thankfully, everything else went smoothly. As someone who typically doesn’t like indie rock and had no prior experience with Jukebox the Ghost, I didn’t go in with high hopes but left quite impressed. Keyboardist Ben Thornewill tapped infectious melodies as he belted out strong, clear vocals. Guitarist Tommy Siegel and drummer Jesse Kristin both played extremely well and perfectly complemented the music, but Thornewill was the one who left a lasting impression on me.
By the time the band had finished playing some of their standout hits like “Hold It In,” “Good Day,” “Under My Skin” and some material from their upcoming album, the crowd was finally getting into the music, throwing their hands in the air and jumping around like idiots, just like you’re supposed to at a concert. Somehow, Jukebox the Ghost had found a way to raise the dead and were rewarded with chants of “encore!” that they happily obliged.