My pace grew quicker as I approached Cheer Up Charlies, in hopes that I might escape this wall of windy, 40 degree weather. This is about as cold as it gets for Austin. Walking through the door turned out to be only temporary relief, as the show was scheduled to play outdoors. At least there was no way my beer could get warm. I turned the corner to the back patio and the beautifully lit, rock wall stage slowly came into view. Light purple and aqua green shined spectacularly on white rock. When Ghostbunny got on stage and started playing, the weather became immediately trivial. We were hypnotized by the distinct sound of a hammond organ cutting through the air, and then the drums and bass began to build. They opened with “Girl Like You” off their debut album “Silver Tongue,” and the crowd began to swarm. Nick Hanson heads the band on guitar and vocals, followed by Zac Catanzaro (drums), Mark Kopecky (bass), Matt Meli (keys), Michael Walker (guitar), and Branden Raehl (percussionist).
I haven’t heard a band like these guys. With high energy, groovy bass, dirty guitar, and prominent key melodies, their musical influences seem to be from everywhere. They have a catchy, indie heart, giving it a light, carefree mood, with rock levels of energy, and vocal and key melodies that seem as if they evolved from the 80s. Only, with a sound tamed to generally darker tones.
The members of the band had consistent banter with the crowd, making the experience more personal to everyone. During the back and forth, Hanson shared that he and Catanzaro discovered that they were cousins only after they started jamming together. It seems like a random tidbit of information, but for a fan, it’s pretty neat to give the audience a peek into the band’s dynamic. Catanzaro is also part of Walker Lukens & The Sidearms, which is not the only other artist they supported that night. The band performed an absolutely killer version of “Afraid of Everyone” by The National that they really made their own.
They ended their set with the opening track off their album, “Get Closer.” At this point, the weather was only an afterthought. The audience was moving and the band intensified their onslaught with every progression and change. The rock wall directly behind them provided a perfect natural barrier from the sounds of downtown, and made for fantastic acoustics at the venue. Even in closing, the band was connecting with the crowd, chatting with their fans as they were breaking down, which is always a huge plus in my book. The overall experience was phenomenal. Ghostbunny is one of the local acts that help Austin keep the name of “Live Music Capital.” And if you haven’t seen them yet, you should. You’ll get a badass slice of what Austin has to offer.
-Matt Jain, TipCow