By: Lara McCaffrey

If you’ve visited Cool Ghouls’ hometown of San Francisco lately, you’ll find it busy with transplants waiting in line for cronuts in the Mission or making apps that will become a fad in a month. It’s a far cry from the revolutionary art scene you once found in 1960s Haight-Ashbury. Cool Ghouls bring you back to that better time, playing jangly psych rock à la the Yardbirds and Cream.

Thursday night at the Whistle Stop in the charming South Park neighborhood, Cool Ghouls played a free show with San Diego’s the Bad Vibes. The Bad Vibes started their set a little past 10pm playing bluesy psych rock.

Cool Ghouls started an hour later, launching into their songs with out much bravado or introduction. Immediately the once empty Whistle Stop dance floor filled with patrons bobbing their heads to the music.

Guitarists Ryan Wong and Pat McDonald and bassist Pat Thomas sing tight three part harmonies reminiscent of the Byrds, elevating choruses on songs like “Creature That I Am.” Wong ripped through solos during the plentiful jam sessions and catchy leads like the slinky riff on “Orange Light.” Drummer Alex Fleshman backed up the group on even the most extended of jam sessions on “And It Grows” with a steady beat and drum fills Mitch Mitchell would approve of.

Bringing theatrics to the dive bar is an uplifting experience, however Cool Ghouls proved this isn’t necessary to transport audiences. With little to no stage banter and antics, Cool Ghouls let the music carry their set, taking us to 1960s San Francisco.