There are many firsts when you are in a band. The first EP you release, the first tour, the first night you all sleep in the van together, and the first time you see and hear someone singing along to your songs thousands of miles from home. These are just a few of the firsts Roadkill Ghost Choir has been checking off over the last few weeks, and a couple of weeks ago they got the chance to check off their first show in Charlottesville Virginia.
Opening the set with a monster 11+ minute performance which blended two new songs “I Could See Everything” and “Dead Friend” into a single musical piece, the Ghost Choir provided the intimate audience with a great introduction and foreshadowing of the dynamic cosmic soundscapes and range they would explore throughout the evening. Starting with a simple strummed guitar, the band built the groundwork of long shimmering pedal steel lines, Wurlitzer backdrops, and Brian Eno inspired ambient tones that intertwined beautifully with Andrew Shepard’s dynamic and powerful lead vocal range. “There’s no meaning to the words left on the lips of an old dead friend,” he sang as he bent and shifted between a brooding country twang, Tom Petty croon, and aching grunge yelp in a single line. All the while the band fluidly phased from a mellow country ballad to straight up indie rocker, only to end on an ambient piece that sounded like a pulsating neutron star whose gravity had enveloped everything that had just happened.
As a listener, these ambient transitional pieces provided a space to reflect on what they had just experienced. In this case, it also provided a perfect launch pad for the next tune, a straight up rocker that is still “Untitled”. Turning up the grungy guitar, bass, drum and vocal lines on a dime, the inclusion of non-traditional drawn out pedal steel and vintage electric piano gave it an overall fresh and new feeling.