Ghostland Observatory: 5 December 2009 - Terminal 5, New York City
I'll say this much for Ghostland Observatory--they have a great lighting rig. Wafer-thin sheets and spires in all manner of colors peppered the room the moment the lights went down; it was hard not to get excited with the visuals alone, but just in case, the band members also wore sparkly garb to heighten the effect. Frontman Aaron Behrens' voice is rubbery and unpredictable enough to be engaging almost no matter what the context, but for the most part this is a duo so dependent on autopilot that there will rarely be more than 1.25 people actually playing anything at any given time. Thomas Turner, actually rocking a cape (sparkly), did his part by pushing the various triggers and play buttons, but Behrens' purpose is apparently primarily to make it appear as though there is more than just that happening. It only worked sometimes, the most notable shortcomings being the faux-abstract portions that inevitably screamed either FUN WITH PRESETS or else ROSS HAS A KEYBOARD. Oh, and then there was the talkbox, for which Turner channeled not Frampton nor Kanye, but Richie Sambora. (So are we actually supposed to be distracted from the music by all these shiny things?) I think we can all agree that seeing this band is a hell of a lot better than merely listening to them, because this was a wonderful presentation of largely boring songs. But hey, welcome to the music industry.