Austin favorites Ghostland Observatory rocked the new August Hall on their latest tour promoting their newest album, See You Later Simulator, with an army of lasers and three giant triangle lights in tow. This was my first time seeing them live, and it was a trip.
Consisting of Pippi Longstocking braids rocking Aaron Kyle Behrens and vampire-cloak wearing Thomas Ross Turner, Ghostland Observatory has been making festival and TV appearances since 2004, before taking a hiatus in 2013. In the time shortly before they stepped back a bit, they had been upping the production portion of their performances, adding lasers and mirrors to the experience. Now that they're back in the groove of things, these elements seem to have been perfected for this latest tour. Behrens’ distinctive braids are no longer present. Turner’s cloak has been updated to a glitzy, white version that make Elvis himself proud. This version of Ghostland Observatory has a whole new level of sheen. They took the stage and began the show without greeting the audience, while still grabbing and maintaining attention from the first notes of Turner’s synth. Ghostland is back, and they mean business.
Seeing Ghostland Observatory live is truly an experience. Whereas an Empire of the Sun show purely translates visuals to lights and lasers, Ghostland Observatory is more a marriage of meticulously produced DJ club gig visuals and concert experiences. I say this because Behrens and Turner are almost invisible beneath the lasers and the set pieces--hidden in the shadows and letting the music speak for itself, which is perfect with a new album that features some heavy instrumentals. Gorgeous, sweeping tracks like ‘Loner’ would not be out of place on the soundtrack of Stranger Things, and every other track perfectly fits the clubby/electro-dance hall extravaganza they put on with this show.
Despite being invisible beneath their crowning lights, Behrens' vocal energy is hypnotic--he performs with a zeal and frenzy that commands his audience to move with their music. Turner’s electronic setup seems to grow every year they perform, and he deftly moves between backing synths and effects to create the lush electronic soundscape that is See You Later Simulator.
August Hall was a beautiful and appropriate venue for them as well. I hadn’t ventured inside since the venue had been transformed from the old Ruby Skye club to the modern August Hall you see here, but the combination of old theater feel with club-style side seating and upstairs balcony makes it ideal for artists like Ghostland Observatory.
After seeing Ghostland’s new production, I can clearly see them dazzling evening spots at festivals and continuing to enrapture venues across the country. When they come through, put on your dancing gear, get hopped up on whatever it is that gets your body moving, and go along for the ride because this is one show that's not to be missed.