Exclaim!

The Babies / Dead Ghosts

Media Club, Vancouver, BC, November 29

The Babies / Dead Ghosts
Photo: Alan Ranta
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With the father of lead singer Bryan Nicol in the crowd, Vancouver locals Dead Ghosts worked the home-field advantage as best they could this evening. All wearing Chuck Taylors, save drummer Mike Wilkinson, their punk/surf garage pop was served fast and loose, often pushed to the point of being out of control. They're still quite rough around the edges, with the quartet coming off muddy at times, but their songs were catchy and moshy. Drew Wilkinson's whammy touch and shining tone on lead guitar was a beacon of their rockabilly garage punk sound.

With a more refined approach, Brooklyn-based foursome the Babies showcased the level of skill that enabled them to rise from such a crowded scene. Wasting no time in launching into "Get Lost" from their recent Woodsist album Our House on the Hill, with its suitable "wanna get high with you" refrain, they seemed to know what Vancouver wanted, and they delivered. They quickly got the young crowd hopping around in their best uneducated guess at '50s boogie woogie and '70s pogo dancing.

Like Dead Ghosts, the vocals of Cassie Ramone and Kevin Morby weren't incredibly strong, with Ramone's delivery nearly deadpan. Yet this seemed to feed into their overall lo-fi slacker aesthetic. There were moments of nice vocal interplay between Ramone and Morby as well, particularly on "Breaking the Law" from their self-titled 2011 debut.

While comparatively a touch on the subdued side, their technical play was far more solid. Having been formed out of Vivian Girls, Woods and other notable indie bands, the Babies' impressive experience culminated in a fortified sound, rather than a muddied one. Morby blew three strings on his lead guitar a couple songs in and was forced to use his back-up for the rest of their set, but it didn't seem to make much of a difference. They had excellent dynamics, building and dissipating energy as they moved from quiet, thoughtful passages to more intense rock-outs.
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