Review by Trevor Talley. Photos by Kristie Bocanegra.
Holy Ghost! came to The Parish with fellow New Yorkers Eli Escobar and Jessica 6 last week, and the three acts put on a pretty damn good dance party. Eli Escobar was already up on the turntables when I came in right after doors, but it actually took me a second to realize it was him. No one introduced him, there was no sign or anything near him with his name on it, and his set up was behind and off the side to the rest of the stage, making it seem like he was just a local opener. After he had been playing for quite a while, I looked up a picture of Escobar on my phone and realized that the show had already started. Since he was touring with two bands, I had thought Ecsobar would be playing a set of his own productions, but instead the crowd was treated to about an hour and a half of a mixed set mostly consisting of deep house. Escobar’s New York flavored song-selection was top notch and funky, and as the crowd grew, a good section of it started dancing along. I don’t think I heard a single mistake in his set, which was backed up by the lead singer of Holy Ghost! when he later told the crowd that Escobar was the best DJ in New York. One particular highlight of the set came when Escobar showed some fellow New Yorkers a little love by playing a bumpin’ remix of The Rapture’s “How Deep Is Your Love.”
Immediately after Escobar shut down his first set, Jessica 6 took the stage and went right into playing. It was probably the fastest transition I’ve ever seen at a live show, and it made a big case for the DJ followed by a live band format. Jessica 6 is often labeled as nu-disco band, and their Chromeo-esque bass-heavy sound fit that idea for the most part. However, crooner and lead woman Nomi Ruiz often had more of a vocal trance style to her singing, and the live production by Morgan Wiley often fell into a pure house beat, so labeling Jessica 6 as a purely “nu-disco” act isn’t entirely accurate. Ruiz played an incredible front woman, keeping the crowd entranced with her sultry voice and constantly moving her body around in a lacy and form-fitting black and red dress. The crowd ate it all up, with almost everyone dancing and making “Oo-eh oo-eh!” noises directly on cue when prompted by Ruiz. The group played for about an hour, hitting some of their more well-known songs such as “Prisoner of Love,” “See the Light,” and “White Horse” before ending their set with Ruiz madly fiddling with the knobs on a slew of effect pedals, turning the last song into a psychedelic tribal trance freakout. I’m not a huge fan of Jessica 6’s recorded tracks, but seeing their live show put their music in front of an audience, where it belonged, and their growing popularity quickly made sense.
Considering how quick Jessica 6 came on after Escobar, it was a little off-putting when Holy Ghost! took quite a while to set up once Jessica 6 was done. Luckily, Escobar jumped back up on the tables and treated the audience to a second, shorter set of his particular brand of mixing. Once Holy Ghost! was ready to start, though, it made sense why their set up took a while. These guys carry around a pretty serious rig, with what looked like four keyboards, multiple computers, a trap drum kit as well as a few free-standing drums, a bass, a guitar and this massive LED and knob covered soundboard kind-of thing that set behind the band and dominated the stage. In order to actually play all of these instruments, Holy Ghost! ups its member count from the regular two to a fairly large six, all of which besides the drummer switched instruments for various songs. Holy Ghost! kept up the electronic dance music meets disco funk vibe set out by Jessica 6, sounding even more like Chromeo than the previous band but eschewing Chromeo’s hipster-ironic silliness for a more serious approach to the funky, pop-heavy disco sound. The melodies were great, and it was obvious that these guys are talented multi-instrumentalists, a fact which was especially noticeable when the lead singer and the guitarist started to pounding rhythms out on the free-standing drums in a couple of songs. Speaking of the lead singer, Alex Frankel provided most of the vocals (though at some point everyone in the band besides the drummer sang), and his voice reminded me of a much cooler Adam Levine as he put out some killer melodies on tracks like “Wait & See” and “Do It Again.” The band showed a little Texas love at one point, stating that they were excited because they didn’t expect so many people to come and saying “We’re from Brooklyn but we love southern food.”
Each of these acts alone might have been a pretty decent show, but together they made for a show that truly flowed well. Though the funky vibe was similar from one act to the next, the variety of each act’s style of dance music made for an interesting four hour dance party that never slacked or lagged. Whoever put these three together knew what they were doing, and you should definitely give them a chance the next time they come around.