by Zoe Matthews
On March 14th, Brooklyn-based trio Jukebox the Ghost graced the stage of Brighton Music Hall with the Spring Standards and Matt Pond for a sold out show nearing the end of their debut-headline tour.
Jukebox has been combining playful beats with starkly haunting lyrics since 2006, and their sound evolves into something new with every tour I’ve been lucky to catch them on (this was my third time seeing them). They toured with the likes of Ben Folds in 2009, and branched out to tour with Motion City Soundtrack last year, all the while balancing headlining tours with producing albums.
The opening acts were energetic and had personality, everything you want in an opener. Piano rock is definitely in, as the Spring Standards featured a female lead pianist with quite a bit of talent. I recommend listening to their track Queen of the Lot, if you want to gauge their sound. Think Passenger, with badass female vocals and a drummer with mutton chops.
Jump to the end of Matt Pond’s set, which was entertaining, but admittedly lackluster.
This is the first time I’d caught them on a headliner, and I didn’t know what to expect from the longer set. I had high standards from what I’d heard from their shorter opening sets. They’re the kind of band that just sounds better live. The personality, the charisma, the thumping bass you can feel in your bones instead of just hear from speakers.
Engage standard crowd push towards the stage.
The twentieth-century fox theme boomed from house speakers as Jukebox the Ghost walked on stage with more swag than I’ve ever seen them with before.
I thought to myself, this is going to be the best set I’ve heard them play.
I was right.
They kicked off their set with a track from their most recent album Safe Travels called Oh, Emily. The crowd immediately joined in singing with charismatic lead Ben Thornewill (right), and all of Brighton Music Hall didn’t stop belting their hearts out until the last beat was left resonating in our ear drums.
Their set was a pleasant mix of songs from all of their albums, including a B-side and a cover. Jesse (drums) and Tommy (guitar) both brought a heavier, stronger, and more stable sound to the band than when I first heard them in 2010, and even in their more recent recordings. Piano-man Ben rocked, body-rolled, and engaged in eye contact with fans intense as ever. The band has matured, in the best kind of way: they’re retaining their unique sound while honing their individual skills as musicians, and collectively as a band.
The most faithful fans went nuts when, fairly early in the set, the band whipped out a B-side from Safe Travels, A La La, a song they described as “that one child you love, but you just don’t usually like taking on vacations.”
The band has a habit of covering songs at their live shows, from Lana Del Rey’s Blue Jeans to Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody.
This time around, they decided to delve deeper into the vast annals of hits, and pulled out Somebody to Love by Queen. No complaints from the crowd, as we all reveled in Ben’s beautiful vocals and agile fingers as he paid homage to Freddy Mercury’s piano skills.
After their set was over they were all drenched in sweat and Ben had almost exhausted his arsenal of quirky body rolls while playing the piano. They exited the stage, thanking the crowd profusely. Everyone waited patiently. JTG came back and played two encore songs, Summer Sun and possibly their biggest hit, Good Day, a song off their debut album, Let Live & Let Ghosts.
It was a good day. So good, in fact, I bought tickets to a second show they booked at Brighton Music Hall for the 21st, due to popularity. Although Jukebox the Ghost just put out Safe Travels last year, every single Ghost fan is waiting patiently for the next new hit composed of cheeky, bouncy piano riffs contrasted with solemn, emotionally relatable lyrics. Piano rock is definitely in.