Ghost Light shined bright during their debut double set in San Diego’s venerable music hall WinstonsOB. The air hung heavy with a heady brew of patchouli, anticipation, and legal skunk in the moments before the band emerged. The sold-out house included several tapers whose recordings will be up on archive.org in the next few days.
Lead by sonic titans Holly Bowling on keys and Tom Hamilton on guitar, the band kicked things off with a couple of tentatively titled originals (“Come Apart” and “If You Want It”) as well as a beauty tune called “Diamond Eyes”. The band’s sound is a mix of classic groove and cosmic swerve and is flecked with touches of jazz improvisation. At turns, the band took detours through deep-space grunge and smokey blues grease on songs such as American Babies’ “Synth Driver”, keeping all the heads spinning in the swirl. Accompanied by Steve Lyons on bass, Scotty Zwang on drums, and Raina Mullens, who added her vocal flair to both leads and harmonies, the band soared to celestial heights for a crowd who listened in rapt wonder at the new life which was unfolding.
This was truly a night of firsts, as the band debuted no fewer than four original tunes mixed in among some choice covers of jam standards such as the Grateful Dead’s “Eyes of the World”, classic-rock deep cuts like the Rolling Stones’ “100 Year Ago” off Goat’s Head Soup, and a number of Tom Hamilton’s early tunes. The former was especially delicious as it was the first public performance to highlight Holly Bowling’s lead vocals. The thrill of the experience was not lost on the room which had many Hobos in attendance.
By the time the band emerged from an extended space exploration into “Lead Weight”, they had a firm grip on the room. Raina Mullen’s spectral vocals coupled with Holly and Tom’s masterful playing mesmerized the small but attentive crowd. Their ability to rearrange the molecules of the air on songs like Brothers Past’s “Boy” was a palpable and powerful force of nature. Surely, the sum of these spectacular parts is greater than their components. In the months and years to come, Ghost Light will undoubtedly become a fixture on the jam scene.
The night’s encore of Derek and the Dominos’ “Keep On Growin” certainly foreshadowed the good things on the horizon for the burgeoning group, as Ghost Light will next be heading north up the West Coast before traversing the country on their inaugural tour throughout the spring and summer. Their cross-country trek will include many fantastic nights in storied halls before they take their place at a variety of festivals including smaller, more intimate events like The Werk Out, Beanstock, and Disc Jam as well as the top-tier festies such as The Peach Music Festival, High Sierra, and LOCKN’.
Rarely does the opportunity present itself to witness a band in their gestation. Ghost Light is now firmly in the process of becoming. Don’t miss them when they come to your town.
Setlist: Ghost Light | WinstonsOB | San Diego, CA | 3/20/2018
Set: Come Apart (Untitled GL #1), If You Want It > (Untitled GL #2), Eyes of the World > Diamond Eyes, 100 Years Ago (HB) (Rolling Stones cover) > Boy (Brother’s Past cover) > Lead Weight, Synth Driver (American Babies cover)
Encore: Keep on Growing