Monday, November 13, 2006
Concert Review: White Ghost Shivers
The Shivers just completed a three-day mini-tour of the DFW area, with shows at Rubber Gloves, the Wreck Room, and finally Lee Harvey's.
There are some bands that sing about pain, drug addiction, and unfulfilled amorous desire in dark, tortured music that acts as a sort of heavy emotional cathartics for both musician and listener. And then, there are other bands that use the same topics to put a smile on your face and a dip in your yip, making it uncomfortable not to just get up and dance. The White Ghost Shivers are clearly the latter. Austin's answer to Denton's Brave Combo, the White Ghost Shivers mix an infectious stew of Cab Calloway, Betty Boop and hyper-caffeinated banjo pickin' that can force even the most dour audience into throes of spastic elation.
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The Shivers just completed a three-day mini-tour of the DFW area, with shows at Rubber Gloves, the Wreck Room, and finally Lee Harvey's. The final show at Lee Harvey's sumptuous outdoor venue was the one I attended: with a handful of fire pits to warm the mostly-packed front lawn, the Shivers provided a torrid set for their otherwise frozen fans. To begin with, before the band played a single note they had already made a favorable impression: looking like the understudies for Tod Browning's 'Freaks', the band hearkens back to the era of vaudeville with buckets of visual personality, specifically their ukulele/banjo/kazoo/goofy dancing bard Shorty Borgasm, who's seven-foot frame and tiny guitar provide a unending source of amusement you just won't find with less altitude-friendly bands. Lead singer/slide whistler/skirt lifting triple threat Cella Blue steals the show, however, using her curly blonde Betty Boop persona to entertain the audience, creating an unstoppable mixture of mischievously coy lyrics and a saucy, sultry stage show that skillfully kept the chilly crowd at Lee Harvey's warm and toasty.
The Shivers played a high-energy, smile-inducing set that mixed bluegrass, 20s hot jazz, western swing and ragtime, making every song a high-energy bundle of fun. Singing about cocaine addiction, romantic loss and murder never seemed so enjoyable: in particular the band's signature songs "The Shiver Stomp" and "Everyone's Gottem" brought the crowd to their feet. At one point near the end of the set Shorty Borgasm even got into the act, jumping from one picnic table to the next like a seven-foot whirling dervish. While the band's music is extremely catchy, the real joy in the White Ghost Shivers is their live act: their next visit to Dallas, at December's White Christmas show at Club Dada (appearing with White Denim and the White Drugs) is highly recommended for anyone trying to shake off those holiday blues.