Last week, I sat down with a glass of wine and my low expectations to review to The Ghost of a Sabertooth Tiger’s latest album and was shocked at how much I liked it. After years of artists I like putting out records that underwhelm, it was a pleasant surprise to be totally pummelled by a band that, previously, interested me minimally. It wasn’t just the wine ears, either – Midnight Sun is freakin’ good. I had to see it live.
The GOASTT’s live set was louder and more guitar-heavy than I expected. It enhanced the psychedelic feel that characterized the record and the live arrangements hatched a rock’n’roll quality and downplayed the shoegaze. The second song of the set, “Xanadu”, was bright and sounded so Beatle-y that I had a hard time achieving what I set out to do – separate Sean Lennon from his famous family. That was even more challenging during “Poor Paul Getty,” which sounds like a hidden track on The White Album.
The set was almost entirely from Midnight Sun and a few weak spots were illuminated without the fuzzy textures of the record to hide behind. With it’s eyeroll-worthy lyrics (“Animals have escaped the zoo / coming down 5th avenue, / now there’s nothing left to do”) and matching cliché power chords, I could pass on “Animals” entirely. Plus, Charlotte Kemp Muhl’s beautiful voice was difficult to appreciate since it was coming out of a face that was either pouting an Eeyore-style pout or rocking a gnarly open-mouthed gum chew. All was redeemed with “Moth to a Flame”, though. The harmonies in the “la la la la la la la la la” sections were churning and performed to tight perfection. The instrumental breakdown brought the band to their zenith and they really should have ended it there. Their last song couldn’t hold a candle to this one.
The group came back out for an encore, performing the first song they ever wrote together and, with that, my big week with The Ghost of a Sabertooth Tiger came to a close. Listen to Midnight Sun if you haven’t already! If not, I’ll be as sad as Charlotte Kemp Muhl looks on stage.