Back in the stoned age, dance music and indie rock were both star-driven vehicles. Dance music had divas like Grace Jones and Donna Summer. Indie rock had outspoken dudes like Michael Stipe and Lou Barlow. Say what you will about their music, but those folks demanded - and got - your attention.
Somewhere over the last dozen years, both genres lost their star power. "Superstar DJs" took the reins from dance divas, and ruled the roost from darkened turntables. Indie rock bands became more and more generic, and more often than not played facing each other onstage rather than the to the audience.
So it's no surprise that Austin, Texas indie dance duo Ghostland Observatory has burst out of that entertainment vaccum on the strength of singer Aaron Behrens' glam rock stage strut and shrill falsetto pipes. His post-hippie threads and Pocahantes hairdo exude the particular strain of androgyny that has made women swoon since the days of Oscar Wilde. He has the Freddie Mercury pomp rock strut down and enough of a wallup in his larynx to sound like Zach De La Rocha gone disco.
His bandmate, the dapper, caped, Thomas Turner, keeps a danceable groove going by twiddling knobs, plunking on synths and sitting behind the drums when the mood hits him. Gangly and professorial, he's the perfect silent foil to Behrens' oxygen eating stage show.
The third member of the band, and the justification for the $32.90 ticket price for Wednesday night's show at the Culture Room, is a full-on arena rock laser show. It's a pretty good strategy. After all, if it looks like a million bucks onstage - chances are you won't feel cheated when you leave the club with an empty wallet.