Review and photos by AJ Miranda.
Ghostland Observatory knows how to throw a party. They’ve proved themselves as masters of creating a carefree booty-shaking atmosphere for us Central Texans since their days of headlining tiny Sixth Street venues like Flamingo Cantina. Since blowing up with 2006’s Paparazzi Lightning, GLO has been spreading the funky vibes across the nation. They’ve made several successful homecomings around the time of album releases, incorporating University of Texas musicians like the wind ensemble or marching band for memorable performances at big venues and festivals in Austin proper.
But this time, for the recent release of their fourth album, Codename: Rondo, the duo of frontman Aaron Behrens and producer/drummer Thomas Ross Turner chose a suburban arena to house their CD release party. The choice of the Cedar Park Center offered its advantages and disadvantages.
The first advantage was the sound system. If you were in the first few rows, you could feel the bass rumble in your chest as your shirt and hair whipped about like you were caught in a wind tunnel. It was intense in the best way possible. Also, Ghostland is just the kind of band that demands to be experienced in an arena. This is arena electro/dance-rock. As cool as outdoor Austin venues like Stubb’s and Mohawk are, they’re just not quite right for Ghostland’s glow-stick/light-show extravaganza.
|GLO’s Aaron Behrens|
The disadvantage was the crowd. I kept thinking if MTV wanted to create Texas’ version of Jersey Shore, they could cast the thing in five minutes walking around this concert. Were these people from Austin? I doubt it. We were a half-hour north of downtown Austin, where a sold-out Interpol show was going on. I’m thinking that’s where the hipsters were on this night, leaving an arena safe for frat boys to fist pump and sorority girls in questionable outfits to trip over the heals they’re not accustomed to wearing (a consequence of growing up in the flip-flop generation).
Crowd aside, Ghostland was excellent. You get the impression they know where their bread is buttered; despite releasing two albums since Paparazzi Lightning, Ghostland opened the show with three of the first four songs coming from the breakout album, including the anthemic party-starter “Piano Man” and the sensually spacey “Stranger Lover.” The rest of the set encompassed their four-album discography, with “Sad Sad City” getting the most enthusiasm from the crowd. My judgmental douchiness aside, the audience was dancing and smiling and enjoying the show, which is what you want from a Ghostland concert. You don’t wanna get stuck with a bunch of wallflowers. Thankfully (another advantage of an arena show), while the floor section was filled with hyped-up kids dancing, the wallflowers were up in the seated section, soaking in Behrens’ raw charisma and Turner’s booming beats from a comfortable seat.
Ghostland Observatory performed at Cedar Park Center on Oct. 28.