Live Review: Ghost Lit Kingdom at Viper Room


Material: A California-based outfit earnestly offering up indie pop anthems, this recently formed quintet borrows from musical influences while maintaining an eclectic, original voice. Working from a base of vocal harmonies and layers of sound, their music vacillates from a quiet serenity to a dramatic gut-punch, often within the same song. Although it feels like an ambitious undertaking, they seem more than up for the task.

Musicianship: Ghost Lit Kingdom are more concerned with the collective layers of sound on top of poetic lyrics rather than individual highlights or solos. The result is an incredibly tight and textured performance, with no throwaway moments. Morrow plays the vocal storyteller, with Kitapci providing the dramatic exclamation point. While composed beautifully, most of their music is built on standard time signatures with diatonic harmonies. This would entrench them firmly in the “indie pop” category rather than “indie rock.”

Read More: DIY Spotlight: Ghost Lit Kingdom

Performance: The set started late, which may have resulted in a quick, seven-song offering. What lacked in length, however, was made up for in energy, beginning with their single, the anthemic “You Don’t Know Me,” moving to the harmony-driven “I Was Born.” The songs provided a nice contrast, and although the five-part harmonies started out a little rough, they quickly got it together. Lead vocalist Morrow was hoping to dispel the Arcade Fire comparisons by, oddly enough, covering Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up.” Mostly a straightforward cover, they did display their own personality and style with an unexpected vocal break mid-song. The performance closed on a strong note with a new song, “Oceans,” featuring three meter changes, the only instance of odd-time emphasized in the set, along with bassist Furze finally being let loose for added funk.

Summary: Ghost Lit Kingdom seems to 
be doing this for all the right reasons, and enjoying moments along the way. They’re genuinely appreciative to be on stage, sharing stories and revealing emotions that drive their music. They’ve built a solid foundation that will only benefit by continuing to play together, refining their voice and experimenting beyond their comfort zone. The challenge they face now will be how to stand out, but they’ve got the songwriting chops to do it.

The Players: Ela Kitapci, lead vocals, keys; Taylor Morrow, lead vocals, guitar; Jason Rodriguez, drums, vocals; Michael Sevilla, guitar, vocals; Andrew Furze, bass, vocals.

Venue: Viper Room
City: West Hollywood, CA
Web: facebook.com/GhostLitKingdom

- Grant Stoner