Occult rock band Ghost turned the Brady Theater into a thoroughly entertaining satanic concert last Tuesday, September 27th. The genre-bending band’s anonymity, theatrics, and unique sound really set this band apart from other performers.
When we first showed up, it became obvious that Ghost attracts an audience from all around the board. Some attendees boasted Ghost merchandise from their past concerts, mostly their Oklahoma City performance. Some people, dressed in chains, leather, and even some robes, really ‘came out of the woodwork’ for this one, likely attracted by the occult. Dressed in a nameless ghoul costume that likely cost him no less than $200, one fan stopped for pictures and talked excitedly about meeting them before.
I have always been wary of openers. The idea of sticking a band in front of the one most everyone paid good money to see falls apart the minute that band proves they can’t hold the audience. In this sense, Carpenter Brut “cheated.” Playing their heavy electronic music as loudly as possible while barely moving on stage, they distracted the audience with 70’s and 80’s styled exploitation music videos. Too much of the performance was the audience watching a projector screen that showed almost nothing but nudity and violence. I can barely remember how some of their songs sounded, if that’s saying anything.
Carpenter Brut’s finish was met by a fair amount of praise, but the audience didn’t really get excited until fog began pouring on stage and a ritual chant played through the loudspeakers. Eventually, the lights dimmed and dark silhouettes entered the stage. The crowd roared until the lights kicked back on, revealing Ghost in all their classic costumed glory, and the band began playing their new hit, “Square Hammer”.
Pope Emeritus III, the vocalist, and his Nameless Ghouls boast a great stage presence. Pope Emeritus wears a black and satanic version of papal robes, equipped with crosses and all. The Nameless Ghouls likewise wear black robes and metal masks with devil horns and faces. The costumes have changed over time, but the group has remained anonymous from the beginning. The group has clarified often that the anonymity is not supposed to attract attention, but rather allow their audience to focus on their music.
Ghost’s unique sound is something to be recognized and praised. Their instrumentalization and satanic vocals call back to their genres’ roots while still remaining catchy and original. They’ve taken influences from classic rock and underground metal, and name David Bowie and Kiss among their inspirations for theatrics. In concert, the group didn’t stray far from their studio recordings. If you’ve listened to their albums, you know what you’re going to hear (just louder). Ghost pulled from each of their albums for the concert, and I was thrilled to hear hits from “Meliora” like “He is”, “From the Pinnacle to the Pit”, and “Cirice”, which won them a Grammy last year. Even songs from “Infestissumam,” my personal least favorite, sounded great in person.
Saying the event was high energy would be an understatement. The band, even while hidden behind costumes, brought enthusiasm and a love for their music to the stage. The instrumentalists traveled the stage rocking out with one another while the keyboardist stood stoically as reverent as if he was witnessing something divine. A guest female bassist, characterized by a metal ponytail extending from her mask, got plenty of her own solos.
The enclosed venue lent itself well to the dark performance. A back curtain, combined with lights, looked like the stained glass windows of some unholy church. Pope Emeritus’ eerie voice filled the place with lyrics such as “our father, who art in hell” and “pray for all to die”. The audience chanted along to Hail Satan and some praised Emeritus reverently during songs. The band handles their satanic themes in a tongue-in-cheek manner without taking away from its qualities. They’re half a celebration of all things unholy and half a celebration of great music. I highly suggest trying to see any live Ghost performance you can and checking out their music if you haven’t already.