On the right tracks
Locomotive Ghost plays Hub stage
One of The Hub’s new additions to their weekly programming this year was What’s On Stage? Wednesday, an event that saw the stage full of live music and great performances each week. The latest act to hit the stage at The Hub was local band Locomotive Ghost, who played March 26.
Locomotive Ghost was formed when frontman Mike Buckley and bassist Ben Nixon met in Selkirk College’s music program in Nelson, BC — then performing under the name Bike and the Muckleys, according to Nixon. When the band relocated to Calgary and after some line-up changes, they added Paul Orton and Mac McDougall to the mix. Now, the four guys make music that can only be described as “indie-folk rock for nerds and lovers.”
Their sound is an eclectic mix of styles — from indie rock to singer-songwriter acoustic to high-energy folk, all infused with artistry and even some spoken word. They utilize a variety of instruments, including ukulele, bass, guitars, keys and drums — often times switching instruments with each other between tracks during a set.
“One of the things that makes our music, I think, hard for us and hard for other people to define is the fact that it is a mix, a blend of influences,” said Buckley. “With each new member we get in the band, I think that molds it more.”
Locomotive Ghost just released Winter, the fourth and final seven-inch LP of their Seasons series — one LP for each season intended to capture and explore the particular feelings in each part of the year. It was an ambitious project for the band, as each LP was written, recorded and pressed within the span of just three months.
Not only was it a difficult endeavor logistically, but also the Seasons project also worked to even further obscure the definition of Locomotive Ghost’s sound.
“Something that affected what we were going for as well was the Seasons project that we just finished,” said Nixon. “We were aiming to do kind of a different genre for each album. So for Spring, we were shooting for folk-country, Summer was more pop, Autumn more rock, and then Winter we went for sort of orchestral folk. Having an intention behind [our sound] definitely affected it.”
Regardless of how you classify their music, though, it is clear from Locomotive Ghost’s show at The Hub that they are a group full of talent and musicianship.
After a set by Sealegs — a true country-folk band also from Calgary — that set the tone for the show with their bluegrass and gospel tracks, Locomotive Ghost not only took to the stage, but commanded it.
Their sound was surprisingly big, especially considering the small crowd in attendance — something that is unfortunately all too common at shows put on at The Hub. Still, Locomotive Ghost filled the room with each track. It was easy to forget that you were in a mostly-empty campus pub. Instead, you’d have thought that the band was playing a sold-out concert by how much they owned the stage and captivated everyone in attendance.
Playing tracks from all four of the Seasons LPs, their musicality was set clearly on display. The ease with which the band transitioned from one track to the next — however different in genre and style — made for a truly exceptional show. It would even be fair to say that their recorded tracks can’t compare to the live performances.
It’s unfortunate that shows at The Hub tend to have such a low attendance rate, since this was an extremely entertaining show. If Locomotive Ghost isn’t on your radar yet, they definitely should be.