Review: Holiday Ghosts @ The Exchange


By Oscar Ross, First Year History

Weaving through the chattering crowd at Bristol’s popular indie venue, The Exchange, Holiday Ghosts’ four band members jumped onto stage, ready with their instruments for their live set supporting Penelope Isles, who were playing later that night.

Opening with the punky guitar driven ‘Blood Orange’, singer-drummer Katja Raskin kicking off the set with real energy coming from the kit. Though the starting song was short and sweet, it left the crowd ready and waiting for the next song, which was played seamlessly after, driving the set’s momentum.

The bulk of the set featured songs off of the band’s most recent album North Street Air, with the main body of the gig filled with jangly head-bop ‘Mr. Herandi’ and the surprisingly punky ‘North Street Air’, which differed to the more laidback feel it had on the album.

Holiday Ghosts live at The Exchange / Oscar Ross

The band’s performance of my personal favourites, ‘Glue’ and the surfy, hypnotic ‘3rd Dream’, really felt as if Holiday Ghosts held the crowd in the palm of their hand. In particular, ‘Glue’ saw the display of Holiday Ghosts unique sense of unity, with Raskin leading the band from the kit and guitarists Stacpoole and Ben Spanks singing together with bassist Morgan Lloyd-Mathews in the uplifting chorus. These full vocal moments of the set, especially with the harmonies on Spank’s Bristol debuted song ‘Again and Again’, really bring through the intimate and personal feel of Holiday Ghosts music.

The band finished off the set with more upbeat tunes ‘Total Crisis’, off their second album West Bay Playroom, and ‘Off Grid’, closing with the fun and easy going ‘Walk for Hours’. The closer definitely left the crowd wanting more, which, as they say, is the best way to leave the stage.

Holiday Ghosts' set-list for their Bristol show / Oscar Ross

The only thing missing from Holiday Ghosts’ live set was a slight lack of consistent interaction with crowd. While the speedy segues between songs were smooth and kept up the great punky momentum of the set, the best moment of connection between crowd and band was Spank pausing to tune his guitar before announcing the debut of ‘Again and Again’, in which he cursed his string for always slipping, greeted by a wave of joint laughter from band and crowd. With the powerful personal touch of Holiday Ghosts' music being key to their sound, more connecting moments like this would have really brought the set to life even more.

In conversation after the set, Raskin commented on playing in Bristol saying: “I always really like playing in Bristol, you get a great response from the crowd” also mentioning how she enjoyed the intimacy of the Exchange. ‘I always prefer wider venues’ speaking on the venue’s layout and how it suited the band’s intimate sound. The Exchange definitely suited the band’s sound, with the group seeming at home on and off of the stage.

In conversation with Holiday Ghosts
In conversation with Joy Crookes

Overall, I would definitely recommend seeing Holiday Ghosts live. The laidback, spacious sounds of the band’s recordings are brought into full punk driven realisation in their live set. While Holiday Ghosts’ recorded work brings through their personality and surf- indie feel, their live music definitely brings their heavy punk influences to centre stage, making for a vibrant and energetic gig.

Featured image: Oscar Ross

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