On Friday evening students from Ithaca College and Cornell University, as well as less local live music fans, made their ways downtown to The Haunt in order to see Tally Hall perform. Down past the Commons and halfway to the Pyramid Mall, The Haunt is a neat little bar and grill known for its live music. In fact, much of the audience had traveled all the way from Rochester for the Michigan band. But, the show wasn’t all about Hall; there were two other bands on the slate.
First up was Chicago’s Skybox. Citing 1960s psychedelic rock, 1970s classic rock and 1980s new wave, the band has an interesting sound that was quite different from the night’s other two acts. Drawing heavily on the use of a computer, Skybox makes music best described as garage rock … if you’re house is located in space. This isn’t to say that the band wasn’t fun; they managed to get much of the crowd up on their feet. However, studio recordings of Skybox are much cleaner than their live performance — for example, the band’s second and newest release, Morning After Cuts. Towards the end of their set, the band played fan favorite “Various Kitchen Utensils,” which drew audible excitement from the audience.
After Skybox departed the stage, the crew began to remove their equipment as quickly as possible. Within twenty minutes co-headliner Jukebox the Ghost had taken the stage. Unfortunately, lead guitarist Tommy Siegel was unable to provide his usual vocal accompaniment because of recent vocal cord surgery — yet lead singer Ben Thronewill had no trouble stimulating the crowd. He provided some funny interludes in between songs and informed the crowd that Jukebox the Ghost recently finished recording their second album. Sadly, he couldn’t reveal the album’s release date, but stressed that a first single was coming soon. And, while the band did play some songs from their upcoming album, it was ditties from the band’s debut like “Under My Skin” and “Good Day” that really had people dancing around the floor.
Finally, around 10 pm, Tally Hall took to the stage. Though dressed in their usual attire (black vests over their traditional colored ties, white shirts and black pants) the band looked a little different than usual. Joe Hawley, the band’s singer and guitarist, isn’t out on the road with Tally Hall this March. In his place, Family Record’s Casey Shea has joined the band. Shea fit in rather seamlessly with the Michigan quartet, delivering an interesting set. The first half of their set was filled with songs both from their upcoming release and some of their more upbeat material from 2006’s Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum. But, at the halfway point, the band descended from the stage and encouraged the crowd to sit down on the floor. With the flick of a few switches they revealed a living room set in the corner of the room. During the remainder of their time Tally Hall played a series of more subdued songs like “The Whole World and You.” They also used this time to engage with the crowd. Just as the evening was winding down, Tally Hall asked Jukebox the Ghost to join them for a big closing number. The song featured an array of unusual instruments including the ukulele and the piano flute. Then, just like that, it was over and the bands began to pack their things — but not before the crowd could rise to their feet for a standing ovation.