The gig last Friday night by The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger at Club Congress was impressive—not only because of the strength of the music, but also because of the uniformly charming nature of the performance.
The GOASTT is Sean Lennon's project with his girlfriend, model Charlotte Kemp Muhl, and their appeal extends beyond the novelty of their celebrity.
Following an opening set by Laura Gibson, The GOASTT played more than an hour of mostly acoustic folk-rock music with a subtle hint of Tin Pan Alley. Lennon proved himself an accomplished guitarist, especially during a couple of Latin- and reggae-tinged breakdowns near the end of a couple of tunes; he also provided the backbeat, using his feet to play a kick drum and tambourine. Muhl showed her versatility, playing bass guitar, accordion, recorder and glockenspiel, adding flavor and a lighthearted mood to the material.
Although Muhl and Lennon constitute the core of The GOASTT, they came with friends. C.J. Camerieri contributed creative work on French horn and, especially, muted trumpet. He often played the latter through electronic effects, resulting in gorgeous, spooky and sometimes atonal touches. Lennon stepped back to be an accompanist while Muhl sang two duets with childhood friend Eden Rice, who doubled as the "merch girl."
Most of the time, however, the concert was about the songs and whimsical personality of the adorable couple in the spotlight. They sounded terrific together, with Lennon's vocals eerily echoing his famous father's but sounding a bit richer, and Muhl executing careful harmonies in her light, breathy voice. They performed the bulk of their album Acoustic Sessions, which was released this past fall on their Chimera Music label. Among the highlights were the vaguely psychedelic "Rainbows in Gasoline," the lovely "Lavender Road" and the spritely "Candy Necklace." Almost all of their songs benefited from the live setting, sounding meatier and more immediate.
Naturally, some Beatles fans were in attendance, and Lennon even politely denied the request of one, saying, "There are so many great Beatles cover bands in the world. ... We're trying to do our own music." The GOASTT did play a cover, though—a sweet-sounding reinterpretation of Bob Dylan's "Girl From the North Country."