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Live Review: Holy Ghost Party and Raindeer at the Crown

July 12, 2013
tumblr_mpme7t34eR1qzqca5o1_500Station North’s newest bar-cum-venue, The Crown, is very red and very warm. Even the uncharacteristically mild Baltimore summer evening is no match for a second floor venue without air conditioning. Fortunately The Crown is hip to the heat and serve generous portions of ice water in large to-go soup containers.
I am, of course, early. And the show, of course, is late even though they used the cheaper ticket price before the show starts gimmick to encourage promptness. The guy manning the door estimates the show is 45 minutes behind schedule, but I know this is optimistic. I believe I’m the only soul in Baltimore who actually thinks a show will start on time.
To pass the time I partake of the night’s special: a rail shot and a Boh or PBR for 4 bucks. A dangerous deal, but I make sure to nurse my beer as I examine The Crown. It has a lot going on for it, cheap food and good drink specials, but in many ways it still feels like a work in progress, from the menu handwritten with a fading sharpie to the precarious looking drop ceiling. The cash register display reads “Good Morning,” which is perhaps a warning.
Brendan Sullivan, of Weekends fame, is up first performing as Slipper. It is his birthday and he works at the bar and he looks and sounds half in the bag. He has an impressive setup, capable of looping guitar, vocals, and a live drum kit. However, he seems to be enjoying his birthday a bit too much to pull off the looping with precision. Still he makes a terrific racket with some excellent fuzz guitar tones and when the live drums enter the fray everything pulls together quite nicely.
Next up is Holy Ghost Party who, oddly enough, only play for twenty minutes at their own release show. Live, the duo loses some of the detail that makes their records so captivating, but they make up for it by providing a more visceral experience. The drums hit harder and the guitar tends to raunchier tones. And while the blues riffing and shredding isn’t exactly my cup of tea, the interplay between the drums and the guitar is highlight of the set. The echo-laden vocals feel like an afterthought and take up too much space away from the arsenal of guitar effects and creative drumming.
Finally Raindeer take the stage. As a five piece they take up more physical and sonic space than the previous two acts, which is a welcome change. Their live sound is a bit unhinged, as if it could all fall apart at a moments notice, but their musicianship prevents a collapse. The synth-heavy songs with odd and unpredictable changes can bring to mind Ariel Pink. and fortunately like Mr. Pink they have the melodies to back up the weirdness. Unfortunately due to the late start I was not able see their whole set, having to leave during an impromptu cover of Gary Numan’s “Cars.” As I left The Crown I could hear the cover fall apart, with a certain goofy charm, which seems like an appropriate way to sum up the evening.

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