Ghostland Observatory Warehouse Live October 29, 2010
For more photos from the show, see our wild 'n' crazy slideshow here.
As Rocks Off approached Warehouse Live Friday, we were treated to a group of construction workers and cops...in true Halloween-costume fashion, of course. We may have been one of the few crowd members who didn't get the costume memo. Many were packed in like sardines marinated with liquor and beer, ready to get down to one of the most visually intense shows Warehouse Live has had this year. But the Austin duo's music was just as overwhelming.
Kicking things off with "Glitter" from latest album Codename: Rondo, Aaron Behrens and Thomas Turner engineered an aural assault that would continue through the entire set: Synthy bouts of melodies echoing through the venue; syncopated techno beats pounding as consistently as the shots being consumed at the bar; Behrens' Freddy Mercury-esque vocals ascending to intense heights while cutting through every electronic blip and bleep; and a deep, zapping bass permeating its rhythm through our chest and vibrating the walls.
Oh yeah. Then there were the lasers.
According to Aftermath's research - and a discussion with one of the sound engineers at Warehouse Live - Ghostland's crew spent spent hours installing and setting up the ridiculous amount of machines that would later disgorge a blinding barrage of colors and streams of light. Some of these lasers have to be perfectly installed less they point in the wrong direction and permanently blind someone.
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The colors were the classic kryptonite green, vibrant fuchsia, sunny yellow and powder blue, all pulsating in perfect time to the music. Other times the lasers did a strobe-light freakout, rendering you temporarily unable to see what was in front of you. These lights pulsating at a rate of insanity was worth the price of admission alone.
"Miracles" got our hips swaying in motions as cheesy as an '80s music video, fists pumping along with the throngs of frat boys and sorority girls trying not to shimmy too hard lest they fall out of their tiny devil or nurse costume. One of the new album's stronger tracks, it translated into one of the evening's largest dance numbers.
"Give Me the Beat," another Rondo track, was a kick-drum stomper that revved up the crowd. Aftermath spent most of the evening leaning against the back wall, allowing the beats to reverberate from the sheet-rock while watching the variety of costumed people getting down with their bad selves, spilling their drinks with every twist and turn.
"Silver City," one of our personal favorites from 2007's Delete. Delete. I. Eat. Meat., was executed with techno-fied pandemonium. "Cause a Scene," from the same album, gave the audience a variety of '80s hand-claps with indie guitar riffs that matched the calls of "What do you mean I'm causing a scene... Come on!" - both shouted from the stage and screamed by the duo's hardcore fans.
Other tracks brought out snippets of Daft Punk and the Beastie Boys, with Behrens trading shouts with the bass lines' sharp attack. This back-and-forth is one of Ghostland's main strengths - finding clever ways to juice up basic techno.
The various triggers of sounds and beats are nothing new to the genre, but the duo seems to have a knack for subtly fooling your ears and making you question your sense of rhythm. As your ears are encompassed by their blur of sound, every once in a while you notice a little blip that changes the flow just enough to keep you on your toes.
As the night went on, the lasers kept coming while the bass lines went into variations of dubstep, the boom lingering just a little longer with each note. When rhythms like this hit the crowd, it seemed to have this hypnotic slow-motion effect, blurring the lines of the Halloween weekend dancefest.
Ghostland Observatory aims to freeze time, causing you to escape into a temporary world of club magic that leaves you partially blind from the lasers and reaching for the aspirin from the driving beats. Yet for some reason, you forget the fact that you may have heard the same beats over and over.
Afterward, for a long while, you can't stop smiling or twitching your shoulders to the echoing rhythms you heard while time and space were suspended among a sold-out show of party people.
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Personal Bias: Aftermath hasn't had this much fun people watching and shamelessly dancing since observing the nightly raves at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.
The Crowd: Many college-aged kids in skimpy and goofy costumes. Shout-out to the few parents (whose kids must have been underage) sticking it out in the back.
Overheard In The Crowd: "Girl: I can't feel my feet!" Boy: "I can't feel my face!"
Random Notebook Dump: We sure hope we can remember some of the songs on the set list, since these beats are starting to all sound the same after 20 minutes straight of pounding bass lines.