Concert Review: Holy Ghost Tent Revival at the Blind Tiger 4/25/15

Tent revivals are jovial events, religious yes, but the spirit of it is familiar to us all. The atmosphere at the Blind Tiger off of Spring Garden Street was not much different on Saturday evening. When I entered the venue there were already hoards of people all dressed in the typical indie concert garbs, i.e. the whimsical button ups, high-waisted shorts, and the occasional flower crown we’re all used to seeing as the winter thaws and spring begins. After grabbing ourselves a drink, my friends and I wound our way through the mass of bodies, settling on standing towards the middle of the crowd. Holy Ghost Tent Revival, originally from Greensboro, has a surprisingly intense following for such a relaxed group of people. Some of you may remember them from Serendipity 2012 when they treated us to their soulful horns and lead singer Stephen Murray’s bluesy vocals. If you have never had the pleasure of seeing them live or listening to them through any other medium their sound is very much like that of Wild Child, the band that graced the stage this year at Serendipity.


Holy Ghost is a group that feels like a funky rock band from the 60s or 70s with a modern indie-folk twist. Their use of the trumpet and trombone give their sound a unique touch that keeps people from letting them fall flat among the rolling parade of indie rock and folk bands that come through the area. The call and response given by their two back-up singers also helps round out the vocals, especially in concert. After experimenting with a more acoustic, blue-grass feel in their first few albums the group found their niche when they traded in the banjo and acoustic guitar for two electric guitars.


The second they came out the crowd started to move like one living breathing organism. It immediately felt like everyone in the crowd knew each other and none of us could help ourselves, we had to dance. If you too are a music enthusiast, you will know this moment; the moment where concerts begin to feel like religious experiences. It’s the transition you feel in the crowd when people have stopped standing around in awkward circles idly chatting and clapping as the opener finishes; instead you see the crowd come together and you can no longer distinguish one group from another. Various voices start to sing along with the band and soon the lots of you are screaming out the lyrics, exchanging knowing smiles that this is what you had been waiting all day for. The only thing you can feel is the humid air of the venue and the arms of those next to you as you dance and sing.


As the band ran through old songs and plenty of new off of their most recent album, Right State of Mind, it seemed as if everyone was overflowing with pure contentedness. We were all surrounded by friends and good music. We couldn’t help but move our feet when the first lines of Right State of Mind, the title song, rang out through the room. It’s one of the best on the album and an honest to God a feel good song that will make any day a good one, as unbelievably cliché as that sounds.


Highlights of the night included the Charles Humphrey and Henry Widmer, ever present on the trumpet, piano, and trombone respectively. Bassist Kevin Williams taking the mic for a change to sing a heartfelt and boisterous Shadow Only Knows was another stand out moment from the show. Matthew Martin, lead guitarist, and James “Ross” Montsinger, drummer, were nothing short of incredible as they drove the beat along. These men make up the kind of band that has you forgetting that the show has to end but before any of us knew it they were thanking us for such a great show and heading out. Not before an encore performance, though, since it seemed none of us could get enough.


If you missed the show I highly recommend you catch them next time they are nearby or go out and purchase the new album, Right State of Mind, on iTunes or give it a listen on Spotify.