Cheers! To A Tour: Piano-rock band Jukebox the Ghost headlined the last show of their fall tour in Philadelphia and didn’t disappoint.

Jukebox the Ghost is a piano-rock band from Washington, D.C. who doesn’t have a huge following, but attracts niche audiences. The band consists of three members, Ben Thornewill (piano & vocals), Tommy Seigel (guitar & vocals) and Jesse Kristin (drums & select vocals). The three guys combine to produce incredibly rich vocal and instrumental tracks that you can absolutely rock out to. On Oct. 9 at Union Transfer in Philadelphia, I had the wonderful experience of attending Jukebox the Ghost’s final date of their Fall 2021 tour.

The night started not with Jukebox but with their opening act, Canadian funky rock band, Fleece. I hadn’t listened to any of their music prior to the concert, so I was a tad skeptical. However, when they appeared on stage and told us, “We’re Fleece, and we’re going to rock your socks off,” I was more than excited.

And Fleece did not disappoint. They did, indeed, rock our socks off with funky guitar riffs, Bee Gee-esque vocal tracks and surprise jam sessions and tempo shifts in the middle of some songs. During one slower song, they asked us to put our cell phone flashlights on. The stage lights dimmed, and the band was completely illuminated by our cell phones.

I still am listening to Fleece on repeat today. They were outstanding.

Jukebox then took the stage. With anecdotes, clever banter, audience interaction, songs from their 2008 album and new, unreleased music, Jukebox the Ghost put on a show and made me remember how good concert life could be. Faithful fans and first-time fans (with masked faces) danced and sang without care, finally getting the chance to overcome the COVID concert hiatus.

There were a couple of standout moments for me as a six-year fan of the band and a two-time attendee of Union Transfer’s venue.

Chiefly, hearing new music before it’s even released is always a treat, especially when fans know that artists have been working diligently on projects during COVID. Not being on tour calls for more family time, yes, but also for more writing, recording and editing. When Jukebox the Ghost performed “Million Dollar Bills,” one of their not-yet-released COVID-project songs, fans didn’t sing; they didn’t know the words, of course, because the song was brand new. This was a phenomenon that was interesting to hear at a concert attended by fans of a band. The band wasn’t being accompanied by a sea of voices singing along. Fans got to hear the band purely for their instrumentals and vocals, as if they were listening to the song on Spotify.

This concert marked the second time I attended Union Transfer for a concert. Both were Jukebox the Ghost concerts. Union Transfer is a personal, intimate venue that has dynamic acoustics and ideal house lighting. The main room is small enough that fans can pack in and still get good sound, but large enough so that the same sound doesn’t drown out everything around you.

Concerts post-COVID can seem like a scary thing. Over a year ago we were being told to stay in our homes because going to the grocery store is even too dangerous. Luckily for music fans, advancements in health and policy have made society feel a bit better about bringing live music back. Union Transfer required proof of vaccination and use of masks for all in attendance of the show. I didn’t see one person violating the rules, so I felt particularly safe to be in a crowd of 600 people.

I would recommend Jukebox the Ghost to anyone who appreciates a bit of existential dread in songwriting, incredible piano playing and fun, energetic guitar riffs. I would recommend Union Transfer to anyone wanting to see a more niche band in concert. I’d say Jukebox the Ghost and Union Transfer harmonize well, but not better than Ben and Tommy’s voices in “Jumpstarted.”

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