Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Amherst’s own Spirit Ghost to kick off tour at Iron Horse with Calico Blue

Jessica Picard/Daily Collegian)
(Jessica Picard/Daily Collegian)

Calico Blue and Spirit Ghost, two local bands hailing from Amherst will come together Thursday at Northampton’s Iron Horse Music Hall for a synergetic exhibition of jazz inspired alternative rock. Calico Blue will open for Spirit Ghost, which kicks off its first-ever cross country tour right at home.

Calico Blue’s intrinsic style spans across a variety of genres, touching on jazz, surf and soul while still managing to keep their indie rock roots firmly planted. Though some band members declare their group name to cast a general mood over a direct meaning — calico being a floral textile pattern and blue implying a blues influence — it leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

Calico Blue has picked up considerable momentum this academic year and thrives in local house show settings. However, that hasn’t stopped them from playing in some of the most popular music hubs of the Northeast, such as Radio Bean in Burlington, Vermont. Its signature use of twangy, off beat, power chords and light percussion, as Sarah Addi’s sultry voice weaves in and out of a pulsing bassline, leaves plenty of space to experience the unique voicing of each instrument. Despite the traditional line-up, Calico Blue’s form is far from orthodox.

The main feature of the night, headlining band Spirit Ghost (formerly known as Sexy Girls), has a sound more fitting to its new name than its previous. The band’s simplistically melodious inflection builds a strong foundation for the varying cadence of Alex Whitelaw’s nasal voice. Whitelaw, the sole composer and lead singer of Spirit Ghost, refuses to settle on a genre. Many of his songs have a blues tinge, communicating a pattern of rhythmic talk and cyclical form, eventually morphing into improvised skatting. Other songs express more modern influences like surf and jazz-rock. Nonetheless, each song is heavy in reverb and passion, often erupting in a climax of fervent screams.

Spirit Ghost is known for its strong presence on stage. The band brings the raw energy of garage rock to the venue while infusing the subliminal technicalities of jazz into their music. As ghosts and spirits do, Whitelaw’s hypnotic sound is sure to put an audience in a trance.

This Thursday in Northampton will spark the fuse for an ensuing cross country tour. Spirit Ghost is bound for Illinois to meet and record with Daytrotter, playing shows along the way there and back. Daytrotter is a music production company with a web-based platform that often recruits up-and-coming indie music acts.

Prior to Thursday, Calico Blue and Spirit Ghost will also perform at the Spring Fun Day on Tuesday hosted on campus at Greeno Sub Shop.

Thursday’s show is for audience members ages 18 and up, and tickets can be purchased at

Will Sennott can be reached at [email protected].

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