Hanging out by the DJ booth before the show begins at the Mercury Lounge, you see an assorted crowd assembling in the tight space, gearing up for what’s sure to be a dance party. Some gather around the booth, seeming to know the DJ that had a love for ’80s tunes and Blondie’s “Rapture,” and my friend asks about the band and if they were in the crowd.
Much to our surprise, those gathered around the booth then make their way to the stage, pick up their instruments, and introduce themselves as Holy Ghost! They go right into “Static On The Wire” as nonchalantly as they had entered the stage, and a pulsating beat goes through the crowd. Though unbelievably catchy, it seems to provoke no more than a bit of step-touching and head bobbing.
But given the laid-back feel of Holy Ghost!’s electronic beats and dance grooves, it’s difficult to expect much more. Expanding from strictly DJ sets when the duo first toured with LCD Soundsystem, the Holy Ghost! live show is still young, yet polished. Adding guitarist Chris Maher and Erik Tonnesen on keyboards, the group replicates the sound found on its records in a more organic way.
Alex Frankel leads the group on vocals and keys, where his casual and cool vibe is accentuated by his clothing, donning a simple gray sweatshirt that made him blend into the crowd before the show. His vocals are doubled by the other members, who sing them an octave higher, while drowsily bobbing along and perfecting their craft. While co-founder Nick Millhiser stays behind the drums, guitarist Maher bounces along, at time breaking into a light jump as the music builds.
Breaking the monotony, Frankel and Maher take turns beating a drum between them during instrumental breaks, despite Maher being firmly attached to his guitar. This surprisingly doesn’t provoke the crowd to more than necessary movement, as there was an overall feeling of distraction in the pit. Despite the feeling, each song from the Do It Again album (from “I Will Come Back” to “Say My Name”) garners plenty of applause, cheers, and smiles, but not too much so as to break the chill factor of the room.
Onstage banter fits into the nature of the show, with Frankel never speaking too loudly, but interacting with the crowd (especially to find out where the after party is being held). The sold out crowd got a rise out of the group’s few and far between chats between songs, but was always sure to keep its cool—and wild sides—in check.