Piano-rock band Jukebox the Ghost was headlining the last show of their fall tour of Philadelphia and didn’t disappoint. – The Waltonian
Jukebox the Ghost are a Washington, DC piano-rock band that don’t have a lot of followers, but attract a niche audience. The group consists of three members, Ben Thornewill (piano and vocals), Tommy Seigel (guitar and vocals) and Jesse Kristin (drums and selected vocals). The three guys combine to produce some incredibly rich vocal and instrumental tracks that you can absolutely rock on. On October 9th at Union Transfer in Philadelphia, I had the wonderful experience of attending the Jukebox the Ghost final date of their fall 2021 tour.
The night didn’t start with Jukebox but with their opening act, the funky Canadian rock band, Fleece. I hadn’t listened to their music before the show, so I was a little skeptical. However, when they came on stage and said, âWe’re Fleece, and we’re going to blow your mind,â I was more than excited.
And Fleece did not disappoint. They did, in fact, rock our socks with funky guitar riffs, Bee Gee-style vocal tracks and surprise jam sessions and tempo changes in the middle of some songs. During a slower song, they asked us to turn on the lights on our cell phone. The stage lights went out and the band was completely illuminated by our cell phones.
I still listen to Fleece on repeat today. They were exceptional.
Jukebox then took the stage. With anecdotes, clever jokes, audience interactions, songs from their 2008 album, and some never-before-seen new music, Jukebox the Ghost put on a show and reminded me of how great concert life can be. Faithful fans and first-time fans (with masked faces) danced and sang carefree, finally having the chance to overcome the COVID concert disruption.
There have been a few defining moments for me as a fan of the band over the past six years and a two-time participant in Union Transfer Hall.
Above all, hearing new music even before it’s released is always a treat, especially when fans know the artists have been working diligently on projects during COVID. Not being on tour requires more family time, yes, but also more writing, recording and editing. When Jukebox the Ghost performed âMillion Dollar Bills,â one of their unreleased COVID Project songs, fans didn’t sing; they didn’t know the lyrics, of course, because the song was brand new. It was a phenomenon that was interesting to hear at a concert attended by fans of a band. The group was not accompanied by a sea of ââsinging voices. Fans got to hear the band just for their instrumentals and vocals, as if they were listening to the song on Spotify.
This concert marked my second time attending Union Transfer for a concert. Both were concerts by Jukebox the Ghost. Union Transfer is a personal and intimate place with dynamic acoustics and ideal lighting for the home. The main room is small enough that fans can sit in it and still get good sound, but big enough that the same sound doesn’t drown out everything around you.
Post-COVID concerts can seem scary. Over a year ago, we were told to stay home because going to the grocery store is still too dangerous. Luckily for music fans, advancements in health and politics have made society feel a little better about bringing music back live. Union Transfer required proof of vaccination and the use of masks for all attendees of the show. I didn’t see anyone breaking the rules, so I felt especially safe in a crowd of 600 people.
I would recommend Jukebox the Ghost to anyone who appreciates a bit of existential dread in songwriting, amazing piano playing, and fun and energetic guitar riffs. I would recommend Union Transfer to anyone who wants to see a more specialized band in concert. I would say Jukebox the Ghost and Union Transfer harmonize well, but no better than Ben and Tommy’s vocals in “Jumpstarted”.