Jukebox the Ghost kicked off their summer tour at the Heirloom Theater in Danbury, Connecticut just a few days after the release of their new album Safe Travels and a few weeks after a set at Bonnaroo. The all ages venue allowed a youthful crowd to dance along to an exuberant dance pop band. Practically every song had the crowd moving and the temperature rising. If you were part of the (fortunate?) group of people near the front of the stage, you were probably twenty degrees warmer than those at the back. You also suffered from the extreme heat if you ventured up to the 21+ balcony for a beer (which apparently went against zoning permissions, resulting in the venue having been shut down for a few weeks). So space permitting, the most “pleasant” area lies in the front portion of the house, a narrow area between the merch tables and the soda bar.
Following sets by Bright Moments and Savoir Adore, the Jukebox the Ghost trio, Ben Thornewill, Tommy Siegel and Jesse Kristin, took the Heirloom stage. The band occasionally suffered sound issues, but for most of their 90 minute set, the band had everyone’s full attention. Teenage energy was through the roof during classic Jukebox songs like “Hold It In” and “Schizophrenia” and the sweaty band commented that people were “losing as much fluid as we are”, likely because the audience’s sweat jumped off their bodies and onto the stage. After “Schizophrenia”, the band introduced the carnival-esque “Victoria” with a comment a studio producer said after hearing the spazzy song: “you know, they make decaf”.
But the piano power pop energy is what helped the band build its following, to the point they might be becoming something big. For example, after “Somebody”, the band explained that they had enough of a budget to get fully choreographed backup dancers for the accompanying music video. Of course the band quickly moved into jokes suggesting the dancers would really be Siegel and Kristin swinging from vines or something. Perhaps such cost saving measures are what helped the band to have “made it”; earlier Siegel gave a shout out to Kristin’s new haircut done by Thornewill. But the chatter was brief and the band quickly went into their blazing cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”, letting the audience dance rampant. “The Spiritual” offered a quiet interlude before a short breather, not enough to drop the temperature inside, but at least the band could step outside briefly.
During Jukebox’s encore, they busted out my current Safe Travels favorite, “Everybody Knows”, whose chorus of “Should have never let you go / everybody knows, everybody knows” is fun to sing along with. The band wasn’t quite sure what song to end on, so they chose “Good Day”, but not before offering their tour manager Charlotte birthday wishes and a partial cover of the Beatle’s “Birthday” song. From the merch table, Charlotte acknowledged her tribute — it was unique to see Jukebox the Ghost make the occasion a celebration as normally just the band’s performance warrants merriment.
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[potentially missing the beginning song(s)]
Hold it In
Miss Templeton’s 7000th Dream
Static to the Heart
Don’t Let Me Fall Behind
Devils on Our Side
All for Love
Man in the Moon
I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Whitney Houston)
Birthday (Beatles fragment – dedicated to Charlotte the tour manager)