SOhO’s Thursday night was the kind that makes a local proud to speak of a Santa Barbara rock scene. That’s because the two S.B.- co-headliners, US Elevator and Ghost Tiger, were both excellent. In both bands you see a real cohesion between the players and a craft that’s one part passion, one part progression and one part piety for the music and its past shapers. US Elevator played just about all the hits – as all the tracks are hits, in my mind – from their debut album. “Community Service,” blitzing off near the beginning of the set, was a treat for the ears and a workout for the feet, while “Where The Rubber Meets The Road” was a certified jam, a beautiful slow burn. Hearing them here, rich with organ tones and crystal-clear guitar, brought forth the band’s loving attention to the quality of their sound – full, warm, humane, vintage – and the Wilco-like touches of invention and surprise. Ghost Tiger’s sound is a little more firmly in the future, heavy with thick synths, phased guitar and a driving darkness. Songs like “Nightshade,” with cloudy synths structured with pumelling percussion from the excellent Maxx, remind one of the “Where I End And You Begin” version of Radiohead, striking both the head and the heart. The three sounded remarkably big for a three-piece, and the touches of early shoegaze and 80s sounds (somewhere between The Cure and Cocteau Twins) gave it a glisten and glow. It’s refreshing to hear a S.B. band that takes full advantage of the emotive power of synths.
By Richie DeMaria