Roadkill Ghost Choir’s sound is big - much bigger than their origins. Hailing from Athens, GA by way of DeLand, FL, their debut album In Tongues introduced the world to their unique blend of Southern rock and alternative rock that were both of those things and much more. Their most recent album, the Born To Run-influenced False Youth Etcetera, is on track to be re-released later this year by Freakout Records. The band (and friend of the podcast) played Songbyrd on their mini-tour of sorts that started at Firefly Music Festival in Dover and will end at their adopted hometown of Athens.
The six-piece band thrive on rock music - all kinds of it. Yes, there are pedal steel guitars, but they’re not an Americana band. There are M83-like synths, but they’re not a synth-pop band. They’re a combination of these two things and just-plain-fun rock n’ roll. It’s really a sound all its own, something that was already noticeable in highway drive-ready songs like “Slow Knife.” Singer and guitarist Andrew Shepard noted that 80s-era Bruce Springsteen albums were a huge influence in the upcoming album, and the new songs on display at Songbyrd were great indicators of what’s to come. The band impresses on the little real estate they have on stage, from the don’t-mind-me-and-my-shredding-over-here guitar solos of Stephen Garza to the perfectly blended-in steel guitar of Kiffy Myers. With the band’s combined talents, Shepard is quick to joke that he’s just a guy that strums a bunch of chords on a guitar. But he’s got a big heart, and it shows in his performance. The way his guitar seems to possess him on stage is captivating, with long hair covering his face and his eyes closed as he screams at the top of his lungs. They’re a band that leaves it all on the stage, and will continue to do so when they inevitably return with False Youth Etcetera back for the world to hear.
Opening for Roadkill Ghost Choir was Austin-based musician Walker Lukens. Along with his backing band, the Side-Arms, they wowed the crowd with their equal parts soulful and bluesy rock propelled forward by Luken’s great vocal range and boundless energy. To shake things up even more, Lukens brought a unique combination of effect pedals and looping machines that made for some entertaining vocals on some of his songs. His latest EP Ain’t Got a Reason is out now through Modern Outsider Records.