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In Review: Lo-ghost at Café Roux Cape Town

A emotive performance that leaves few feelings unexplored.

28 Feb 2017 / Opinion / written by Tecla Ciolfi / Pics by Laura McCullagh

Lo-ghost is an alternative pop duo that I was told to check out about six months ago but I never got round to it because, life, and without any preconceived notions my expectations aren’t wild for the night’s proceedings.

I arrive to a full house and after being seated in what looks like a naughty corner, don’t have to wait very long for Shannon Devy and Evan Strauss to take the stage. The instrumentation between the duo is immense as Devy switches between an electronic sampling pad, full drum kit and guitar while Strauss holds his own on keys, guitar and sampling pad.

From the onset it’s clear that Devy’s voice that is the real force here. Brazen and vast, she exercises masterful control over it, not once letting it overpower or shadow her partner. However, her power behind the kit does, perhaps a fault of the engineer or acoustics but Strauss breaks a hard sweat to be heard.

Things are pulled back during ‘Night Flowers’, as a simple backing track provides a solid backbone for Devy and Strauss to explore the dynamics of their vocal harmonies. It displays a gentle electronic-rooted melody interspersed by quieter verses and a large, pop-centric chorus. Afterward, Strauss takes a moment to acknowledge his sister’s birthday and presence in the house. It’s a cutesy moment all-round.

Devy then explains that, because this isn’t a stereotypical show, its allowed them to change things up a bit, before sharing details of their creative process on their upcoming album. She tells us that the narrative themes of love, loss and being left behind are ones that keep reoccurring in their writing.

What follows is one of the rawest emotional vocal deliveries in recent memory. Devy’s recount of an apparent abandonment in ‘Quartz’ off their debut EP “Mother” comes to a head as she roars, “Would it be different if I was a son?” It’s met with resounding applause.

A decidedly difficult cover of Bon Iver’s ‘Heavenly Father’ by Devy is then attempted but it’s Strauss’s take on spoken word rock band Listener’s ‘Wooden Heart’ that raises the hairs on my arms. He morphs into truth-spitting preacher, shouting animatedly into the mic, the essence of Dan Smith clearly embodied. Devy sits on the floor in corner nodding her head repeatedly in lyrical solidarity. “We only have what we remember,” he concludes softly and I’ve basically fallen in love.

Devy takes the mic again before set closer ‘Ghost In A Blood Machine’. She shares with us the entertaining story of how their debut music video came to be – the result of which is a delicate weaving of a queer-positive narrative expressed through the contemporary movement of dancers Chester Martinez & Devon Marshbank.

Calls for an encore are met enthusiastically and I slip out before all the Hendrick’s ‘n’ tonics have a chance to catch up with me.

Since their opening last year, Café Roux’s new branch has allowed me to discover new acts again, in a setting that gives artists the opportunity and freedom to be heard and seen in a new light. Lo-ghost fully embraced this and it’s because of that that I’ll go out of my way to attend one of their performances again.

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Check out our exclusive gallery from this event.