I found out about Jukebox the Ghost when they opened for Ben Folds. They made a great first impression on everyone I talked to after the show and I loved their debut album from the very first listen. I am a huge fan of happy piano music, and that is precisely what they make, so I was really excited when I saw they were coming to town as headliners.
We got to Crowbar a little late and completely missed the first opener, The Sun Society, who we were told was excellent, and who also apparently included two cute/hot girls, depending on who you ask. Next up was Drink Up Buttercup out of Philly. The first thing that stood out to me was their psychedelic keyboards, which were half The Doors and half the circus, but there was more to them than that. They had a stage full of other vocalists/musicians, including a guy who played a mean Big Ass Trashcan, all tied together by lead singer James Harvey’s impressively strident and strong voice. They put on a fun, high energy show interspersed with hilarious monologues. Go look at the pix to see some of their apparently hand-drawn tour t-shirts and then just try and resist giving them a listen, I bet the intrigue gets to you.
Finally headliners Jukebox the Ghost (also from Philly) took the stage with little ado and went right to work. Jukebox is a three man band comprised of Ben Thornewill on piano/vocals, Tommy Siegel on guitar/vocals and Jesse Kristin on the drums. They got their big chance when the opened for Ben Folds on his last tour, and the people I talked to all seemed to have found out about them either when the opened on that tour, or from friends who found out about them that way and just had to share their music. Watching Ben T. on the keyboard is a lot like watching Ben F. on his piano, lots of funny faces and torso twisting, and just generally bringing the audience into the show. There were three girls from Pensacola behind us who had traveled just to see Jukebox, and more specifically to see Ben, and they swooned and giggled so loudly through so much of the show it made it a little hard to hear sometimes. Still, having been that girl before, and sometimes still being that girl, I could only smile about it. Hell, it’s hard not to fall for a quirky dude with a sense of humor who rocks on the piano. The other vocalist, Tommy, introduced us to a few new songs from the upcoming release that’s due out in September, and if they crowd’s reaction is any indicator they should see sales from a lot of this crowd, myself included.
There were a few standout moments during the show. First was when they played one of my faves, “Victoria”, a classic lovesong that includes lines like, “I couldn’t tell if you were a bitch or totally bitchin'”, which was just as fun live as I’d hoped. Another highlight was when the whole band broke down in laughter during “Good Day” and were eventually brought back on track by Jesse, but not before an audience member tried to help out by feeding Ben the lyrics. They also played a couple (well technically, a few) covers, including one that wins my award for most random ass cover ever, Donna Lewis’ 1996 hit “I Love You Always Forever”. The other covers were a surprise that came at encore, a medley from the end of The Beatles’ Abbey Road, “Golden Slumber”, “Carry That Weight” and “The End”. If you haven’t heard these guys yet, you still have plenty of time to learn all the lyrics, and all the places where you clap along, for when they (hopefully) come back to support the next album.