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img_1672.jpgEpitaph Records band, I Am Ghost, is a paradigm for up and coming rock bands. Despite their North American and European tour logs, the Long Beach based group still finds the need to play smaller, all-ages venues such as The Vault in Temecula. The venue was half empty but was still filled with the energy of an arena act. This is odd for a band that drew Goth kids from all corners of the Interstate-15 freeway.

At first I scoffed at the band’s entrance, which included dimmed lights, devilish music, and LOTS of fog. This is too cheesy for such a small venue, I thought.

Then they started playing “Bone Garden”.

Drummer, Justin McCarthy drew me in immediately with his drumming sex face and high-energy fills. He was rhythmically tight too…Max Weinberg tight, which sadly, is a rare occurrence in the common drumming world. Listening up, I noticed Ronnie Ficarro’s heavy bass lines that fit in so well with McCarthy’s kick drum. You know a rhythm section is tight when you hear the kick drum and bass as one instrument. Not bad at all. Guitarists, Tim Rosales and Chad Kulengosky also impressed me with their clean guitar playing. Let’s not forget the singing either. Four of the I Am Ghost guys utilize their vocal pipes quite well as they screamed and harmonized, or as one might say, screamonized.

And then singer, Steve Juliano did it for me. During the later part of the set, standing on a speaker in front of a small crowd of awkward Goth kids screaming all the words with him, a woman’s worst nightmare happened—the eyeliner smeared. Now all my ladies (and metrosexual males) know how shitty it is to get eyeliner in ones eye especially during a performance. It. Sucks. Balls. However, I don’t think anyone noticed since Juliano just kept going like a champ. He has my respect.

With even such a petty thing as eyeliner, that’s how a performer should be. No matter the venue size or the crowd response or how smudgy your makeup might be that night, a band has to deliver a damn good show, and I Am Ghost is a tight act that knows their audience. It also helps that they clearly have a loyal fan base. I mean, really? How can you decipher screaming vocal lyrics unless you listen to the records continuously or own the album’s liner notes? They definitely put on an entertaining high-energy show.

Although, I’d still cut down on the fog…

-Kateri Lirio
photo by Matt Matsumoto