Show Review: Holy Ghost! with Jessica 6 and Eli Escobar at Slim’s

Originally published on November 21, 2011!-San-Francisco-Review

Holy Ghost! with Jessica 6 and Eli Escobar :: 11.10.11 :: Slim’s :: San Francisco, CA


Jessica 6 by Annelise Poda

Hipsters and indietronica fans showed up at Slim’s in full force for a Thursday night showcase of up and coming dance acts from New York City, with the exclamatory Holy Ghost! headlining the night. The band has been generating a lot of buzz in the electro-pop scene with the release of their 2010 nu-disco debut album. Signed to DFA Records by renowned indie tastemaker James Murphy of LCD Soundsystm, the band is currently on their first headlining tour across the U.S. Childhood friends Alex Frankel andNick Millhiser founded the band and worked hard to recreate their full electronic and organic sound in a live setting with a full cast of touring musicians. Multiple knob tweaking producers and groove heavy instrumentalists welded notes together to craft a set of seriously infectious dance songs that kept the San Francisco audience dialed into the show while continuously busting out adrenaline induced dance moves the entire night,.

At the beginning of the night, R&B outfit Jessica 6 got the crowd riled up after a pulsing DJ set by Eli Escobar, who had served up house beats mixed with samples from The Rapture and other recent dance tunes. Escobar also played between sets and at the end of the night to keep the party moving. AsNomi Ruiz of Jessica 6 took the stage, the audience definitely took notice. Clad in a skintight dress and jacket that seemed to be made of more zippers than fabric, Ruiz commanded attention with her soulful singing and head-turning dance moves. Many people in the crowd knew the songs and sang along, while the pocket-centric bass lines of Andrew Rapasso and the multiple synth contributions of Morgan Wiley gave the expressive songs a huge boost that had everyone moving. The heavy bass lines were the most prominent part of the music, but the focal point of the band was definitely Ruiz and her forceful singing. Keep a lookout for Jessica 6 in the future, their tight playing and dynamic songs will definitely grow their fan base and instigate many future tours around the country.


Holy Ghost! by Annelise Poda

After the break, Holy Ghost! entered the venue to riotous cheers. Lead singer Alex Frankel grabbed the mic stand and kicked the show into high gear from the get-go. The band of native New Yorkers rocked through the majority of their recorded repertoire playing both live instruments and manipulating a giant synth setup assembled on a stage of flashing colored panels. The crowd worked up a sweat during heavier, bass-driven jams and blissed out to slower piano influenced selections, all the time absorbing good vibes from fellow animated fans.

Frankel danced just as hard as anyone in the building, punching out accentuated notes in the air and sporadically grabbing drumsticks to bang out beats on spare drums. During “Slow Motion”, he doubled up the drum fills being played by Jim Orso, creating a driving, built-up beat progression. Holy Ghost! is a very rhythm oriented group that uses straight ahead funky drum parts as a strong backbone for the other instruments. This is especially apparent in the crowd favorite “Hold On,” which starts as a slow and steady beat that is gradually built upon by a fuzzing bass line, a piano chord progression, and spidery, echoing synth notes. The crowd reached towards the stage with an explosion of pent-up energy during the extended bridge of reverberating synthesizer melodies. Other notable songs of the night were recent singles “Wait and See” and “Hold My Breath”, where the crowd shouted lyrics and clapped along with the music.


Holy Ghost! With Jessica 6 by Annelise Poda

Holy Ghost! finished up the night with an emotional performance of “Jam for Jerry”. To end the show, Frankel jumped into the audience and to my amazement and subsequent adrenaline spike grabbed my shoulders and we jumped up together with the rest of the crowd, singing the final chorus with everyone around chanting, “Don’t stop! Don’t stop!” over and over. It was a surreal and extremely fun experience, and if anyone up front somehow wasn’t having a great time before, they were peaking with exultation by the end of this set.

For the encore, Jessica 6 joined Holy Ghost! in a collaborative jam that is apparently a new feature the bands have recently incorporated into their tour. The song stopped abruptly a few bars in for last minute tuning, which Frankel apologized for and joked that tuning was something that didn’t happen very often in dance music and that this was a rare occurrence. It was a great encore after the technical hiccup, and Ruiz’s velvety, commanding voice harmonized beautifully with Frankel’s singing.

Everyone I talked to after the show was elated about the performance. I was already a big fan of the Holy Ghost! album, but seeing the tracks performed live with six people onstage all pumping out loops and layered sounds offered a new, energized perspective on this music and renewed my love for the record. I’ll definitely be looking forward to future Holy Ghost! shows in the Bay Area, and if you have a chance to catch a date on the second half of their current tour, I’d highly recommend heading out for a night of hyped up and expertly live produced dance music.


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