Music That Makes You Shake Your Ass

May 2nd, 2011

Holy Ghost! – Music Hall of Williamsburg – April 29, 2011

It takes a certain je ne sais quoi to pull off the punctuation mark in a band’s name. Few try, fewer succeed. But it’s hard to imagine Holy Ghost! without that exclamation mark, that extra oomph, that thing that made bodies shake, arms flail and heads bounce at their sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg show on Friday night. What began as an old friendship spun into an electropop duo under James Murphy’s wing returned home to New York City after five weeks on the road as a full-fledged band: multiple guitars, keys, drums and vocals were manned by a sextet of musicians, bringing the funky ’80s-synth-revival with ! after ! after !.

Opening with “Say My Name” and running pretty much through their full-length self-titled debut album, Alex Turner and Nick Millhiser played the crowd like expert DJs, slamming on the extraneous timbales at the front of the stage to punctuate the dance and signal to the audience. Every tune had a delicious hook and 99 percent of those in the crowd were powerless to do anything but move. The 1 percent fighting hard to stay still and concentrate may have been pleasantly surprised by the subtle interplay of the full band and the rich five-vocal harmonies bringing a lushness they might not have expected. Warning: If you’re the type of concertgoer who might worry about whose shaking booty is rubbing up against yours, Holy Ghost! might not be for you. Everyone else: Don’t forget to pack an extra ! or two. —A. Stein