Jukebox the Ghost rocks out at Water Street

The Club at Water Street Music Hall in Rochester, N.Y. was alive with indie rock fans this Sunday, Sept. 16. Local band The Demos and better-known Maps & Atlases opened for Jukebox the Ghost’s energetic and playful set.

Maps & Atlases, who had almost as many fans at the concert as Jukebox the Ghost, consists of a steady bassist, a nasally, bearded lead singer and a pseudo-albino drummer. The band explored rhythms on an unattached bass drum and a synthesizer and with attempted interesting tapping techniques on the lead guitar.

Though it took a few songs for the band to get comfortable, Maps & Atlases received positive feedback during their last four or five songs, which jived with Jukebox’s pop-rock style.

Then Jukebox the Ghost vibrantly took the stage. “Adulthood,” their opening song, set the tone of the show. With its simplistic piano, smooth transitions, and narrative lyrics, it drew the audience right in.

Jukebox continued its merrymaking with popular songs like “Say When,” “Oh Emily” and “Don’t Let Me Fall Behind.” Thrown into the mix were slow, thoughtful pieces to balance out other songs’ optimistic vibes. The three-piece band, consisting of drums, guitar and piano, played zealous songs about ghosts, gods and heartbreak.

Jukebox’s performance was a mixture of upbeat and evocative music and humorous audience banter.

As pianist and lead singer Ben Thornewill described two songs, “This one is about love, and the next is ‘Setting Myself on Fire,’ as I always do.” The band went on to play songs from its new album Safe Travels along with intermittent singles such as “The Stars,” “Hold It In” and “Good Day” from its first two albums.

After the show, guitarist Tommy Siegel said that writing music is a complicated process.

“‘Half-Crazy’ went through almost 20 drafts before I brought it to the band,” Siegel said.

Putting together an album is equally complex, Siegel added. He said some singles from the new album were written before the release of Let Live and Let Ghosts, including, “Dead,” which he wrote in college.

Two of the three band members contribute to the songwriting process, the exception being drummer Jesse Kristin. The band’s unique sound is a mesh of alternative rock with pop and operatic elements. Lyrically, the band’s music ranges from fearful, forlorn and apocalyptic to peppy, enthusiastic and bright, consistently carrying a storytelling theme.

According to Siegel, the band will continue booking shows in the Rochester area. “The first time we played here was for Ben Folds, and we’ll keep playing here as long as people keep coming out,” he said.