Review: Groovy, comfortable show by Holy Ghost Tent Revival at Grey Eagle in Asheville

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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By Claire Clayton

A Review of an Intimate Performance By Holy Ghost Tent Revival, Honoring Their Latest CD Release, Right State of Mind

I check my phone for the third time. It’s 8:47 p.m. There are few people than I expected at the Grey Eagle on a warm, breezy Saturday night. I’m here for the Holy Ghost Tent Revival CD release show, a popular North Carolina band from Greensboro, who I’ve never heard live before. My friends and family prepped me for the greatest show of my life, and yet the number of people here could cozy up and fit in my mother’s humble kitchen.

I check my phone for the fourth time. 8:58 p.m. I notice three attractive well-dressed guys briskly walking around, jumping on stage and occasionally bumping into each other while one of them holds a DSLR camera. I’ve got to know what’s going on. I walk up to their huddled group and interrupt their fast-talking conversation.

“Hey, I’m sorry to interrupt you guys but I’m here covering the show for Ashvegas, and wondering what you guys are doing?”

I later learn that these well-groomed, hip young men are here for Condé Nast Traveler Magazine, filming a four-episode series in Asheville. Bryn Mooser, co-founder of RYOT, a news website that links every story to an action, informs me that they’re covering the Grey Eagle as part of the Top 10 Coolest Rock Venues in America. Our conversation is cut short as the lights dim and more people start to pour in. The Toothe, the opening band, approaches the stage.toothe_2014

Toothe is a local, three-man band; all sporting impressively manicured facial hair. The music is breathy and emotional. The middleman proves to be a bit of a Renaissance man, taking on the role of keyboardist, percussionist, guitarist and the harmonica.

There is a decent amount of angst in each of Toothe’s songs—a wronged baby daddy, god is a misconception— but they have an enthusiastic following, three young ladies in particular are swaying 5 feet from the stage, front and center, eyes riveted on the performers.

Toothe finishes up their last set and the room takes a cigarette/beer/bathroom break while the stage is prepared for what we have all been waiting for: Holy Ghost Tent Revival.

Holy Ghost Tent Revival recently released their third full-length studio album, Right State of Mind, on Sept. 16. Keeping fans guessing, the band has released a single, “Sun/Shadow” from their upcoming album, All Things Go, but tonight they break down the walls and deliver one of the most personal, energetic and down right fun performances I have ever seen.

The two main vocalists, Stephen and Matthew, begin the show with some quick-witted banter and a “hell yeah” karate kick before rolling into their first song. The crowd goes wild.holyghost1_2014

Watching this six-piece rock and roll band is like watching six best friends have the time of their life. No nerves, no ego, just a casual, all around good time. Two ladies in the back mirror old-fashioned back up singers, swaying and snapping to the beat of every song. This group is soulful, comedic and emulate a “just happy to be here” attitude that makes everyone feel comfortable and welcome. We might as well be in their living room. I attempt to sing along to songs I don’t even know.

Unlike Toothe, it is difficult to distinguish the songsmithery of Holy Ghost, as it is clear that each member feels a deep personal connection with the sound and lyrics of the music. However, the two main vocalists take on the role of speaking to the crowd, encouraging them to sing a long and cracking jokes here and there.

Over the course of their set, tambourines, a clarinet, trumpet, percussion egg and even a maraca make a remarkable debut in each of their songs. These very different sounds are meticulously placed to create groovy and sweet vibrations that call for a natural reaction in everyone’s shaking knees.

After an hour of hopping up and down, playing and laughing with each other like brothers and sisters do, and an enthusiastic performance of Right State of Mind, four members of the Holy Ghost Tent Revival slow down the momentum and gather around the microphone to romance the audience with a soft rendition of an old-timey bluegrass song.

For some unknown reason, about 60 percent of the crowd has dispersed by this time, but Holy Ghost Tent Revival continued to entertain their most loyal fans with multiple encores. At the end, Stephen Murray said, “thank you for making our CD release meaningful and enjoyable.”

Holy Ghost Tent Revival just gained a new fan and I plan to tell all my friends about them. If you want more information on their latest CD releases—and I suggest you do—please visit,

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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