Live Review: Ghostland Observatory, Schuba’s, Chicago 8/4/07


review by Sheryl Witlen
photos by Jeff Woelker

After a full day of festival activities making my way out to Schubas to see Ghostland Observatory was a bit difficult. The music, the sun and the dancing had completely taken its toll on me, but if there was one show i was not missing during my weekend in Chicago it was this.

Digging deep down into my energy reserves i was immediately rewarded the instant i walked into Schubas. A tiny bar with a back room filled to the brim with buzzing fans i knew it was going to be a good show. Thomas Turner took the stage in his traditional blue cape and Aaron Behrens sported tight jeans, aviator sunglasses and two long braids. Their set earlier in the day was quite the enjoyable experience. Watching Behrens twirl across a large stage as the camera panned from behind him-a crazed silhouette against the Chicago skyline i had a permanent grin plastered to my face. The intimate setting of Schubas and an audience of 200 surrounding me let me know i was at home as they sang every word during the eleven song set.


Behrens evokes the spirit of Scott Whyland and David Gahn with pure sexuality and self-confidence that immediately intoxicates and entertains. A classically trained dancer he encompasses any space he occupies with his lithe body gyrating gracefully to the music as his songs fall upon your body and infiltrates your ears. Turner backs him up gently rocking to the music as he switches from spinning to his drum kit and back again. Aaron takes time away from dancing and centers his energy on the guitar which inhibits his moves but showcases his musical ability. A solid set progresses towards a lyric that sums up Ghostland Observatory on this steamy August night, ‘It’s a hot night to be cool,’ so come on Chicago, kick off those dancing shoes — Ghostland Observatory is in town!


Crowd favorite, ‘Sad Sad City’ found people squealing the lyrics with delight as Behrens balanced on the edge of the stage thrusting out towards the audience and raising his arms to the ceiling with complete abandon. The small stage confined his larger than life on stage persona and i came to acknowledge a fact that i had already known deep down inside. Ghostland Observatory is considered a relatively ‘small band’ made up of only two members with one album under the belt-but they are in no way a small band- at all. They deserve to be playing large stages in every city to hoards of screaming, dancing fans- and with enough time they soon shall be. For now, if they come to a city near you-buy your tickets early, drag your friends and dance your socks off. Turner and Behrens are the real deal.

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  1. Joselito
    Posted August 9, 2007 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    The lyric is actually, “it’s a hot night, too hot to play it cool.”

  2. Marcee
    Posted August 9, 2007 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    After reading this review–I instantly want to grab my ipod, slap on my headphones, and dance to Ghostland Observatory until I get the privilege of seeing them at thier next show! I’m sorry I missed them at Lola, but with 1 of their shows under my belt and after reading this, at least I know what I missed!

  3. Steve
    Posted August 10, 2007 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    I always wonder myself why GO hasn’t taken off nation wide yet. Maybe it has something to do with them releasing their own records and not having a big distributor. They actually have two albums, not just one, and they both rock:… from 2005 and Paprazzi Lightning from last year. I’ve heard several new songs in their sets so they may be close to releasing another one soon.

    The real treat is seeing them live though. If you ain’t dancing during one of their shows you must be dead!

  4. Posted September 19, 2007 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    Ghostland rocked my world at ACL and I have made plans to catch them at new york and vegoose just from seeing them once……They bring a lot of sounds together with their style and I can’t promote them enough….cheers

  5. Posted December 29, 2007 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Speaking as someone who by definition has eclectic musical tastes, I gotta say that I understand why this band hasn’t taken off nationally yet.

    It has something to do with a lack of melody . . . and harmony . . . and chordal progressions . . . ?

    Eminem has more melody than they do. Creed has more chords. And yes, Creed is harmonically monotonous.

    I think the truth of the matter is that they are just too weird. And I’m weird; so I can say that.

  6. Posted September 8, 2008 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    well lastcrazyhorn

    guess now you can’t understand why they HAVE taken off nationally, nice observation

  7. paisley
    Posted December 21, 2008 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    No, I can see what lastcrazyhorn is saying. I also have eclectic music tastes, but this band just seems flat and terrible to me. Their music is simplistic, repetitive, abrasive, and all sounds the same, the lyrics are cheesy, and there is no melody or harmony, as lastcrazyhorn said. This could be innovative, but in these incompetent hands it’s not. The singer, who reminds me of the creepy guy at a Grateful Dead show who won’t leave you alone, seems like a bad rip-off of hair metal bands of the 80’s, and the guy in the cape seems to have no talent or skill whatsoever. I am really confused about why they are popular, but then, so is Josh Grobin and I don’t pretend to understand that either.

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