Punk in the City is a biweekly feature introducing influential Chicago punk, hardcore, post-hardcore, pop-punk, indie, and rock bands that have had a big impact on my personal musical evolution (and the Chicago scene in general).
The Ghost was this wild experimental post-hardcore band that really started gaining speed around the same time At the Drive-In was collapsing.
I remember seeing the Ghost at Thick Records' Oil: Chicago Punk Refined compilation release show at the Metro way back on Valentine's Day of 2003. The lineup was already strong, with appearances by Southside punkers the Arrivals, Eli and Josh Caterer's Duvall (in between the death and resurrection of the Smoking Popes), and a surprise guest appearance by none other than Rise Against. Oh yeah -- Local H played, but nobody cared. Not that Local H is necessarily a bad band, but they certainly didn't seem to fit the bill for a local punk show.
The concert was spectacular (although spattered with decidedly unspectacular sets), but the Ghost was especially fun to watch. The band played flawless post-hardcore live, sounding as good (if not better) than its actual recordings. (See the video above for more on that).
The Ghost only released two full-lengths (2002's This is a Hospital and 2004's This Pen Is A Weapon), but hot damn were they fun to listen to. Artistic, bitter, raw, and energetic, the former west coast dwellers had a sound that was simultaneously catchy and violent. You might think they were confused, playing complex post-hardcore with predominantly straight-forward punk rock acts, but it was never that simple with the Chicago scene. The kids loved the music for what it was, if you could play it well enough. Therefore, the artistic and intense (albeit out-of-place) musicians carved a niche in the thriving scene.
As with many of the bands represented on Punk in the City, the Ghost is no more. If you enjoy their stuff, check out lead singer Brian Moss' more recent project, Hanalei. Warning: ghastly songs below.
"What’s the lynch mob's verdict, am I truth or am I trend?"
- The Ghost, "Banished and Loving It"