By Miles Johnson

On Oct. 25, patrons of the Sentient Bean got more than they bargained for.

Considering the coffee shop venue and the name of the North Carolina based band Holy Ghost Tent Revival, I was expecting some low-key, vaguely Christian music.

Not so.

Their words were smart, their voices were passionate and more than anything they were loud. The first song ended to a hearty applause from an audience already hungry for more.

The energy of the group was infectious. Using a banjo, acoustic guitar, electric bass, keyboard, trombone and drums, the six men comprising Holy Ghost Tent Revival had whipped up a fervor that seemed hardly containable. The band bounced around, gestured heroically and lifted their heads to the ceiling in song, all as an expression of their boundless enthusiasm.

The music itself was difficult to pin down. Theirs was a full sound of tinkering keys, meandering horns and an insistent banjo. The constant shifts in tempo and volume made Holy Ghost Tent Revival impossible to pigeonhole into one genre.

Powerful climaxes would descend into sensitive five-part harmonies. One never knew when a song would end or where it was headed. Of course, that was all part of the fun.

Amidst the raucous jamboree, Holy Ghost Tent Revival proved to be versatile musicians. Members switched instruments, different vocalists were given center stage, and the keyboard player even pulled out an accordion at one point. The metamorphosis only added to the exciting unpredictability of the band’s performance.

The power of Holy Ghost Tent Revival’s performance was matched only by the strength of their lyrics. Songs about lovers lost were cleverly and sincerely written. “My heart is yours honey,” they sang, “But only for a little while.”

With their head shaking and wailing delivery, the group could have sung any words and it would have met a positive response from the audience. They were eating it up.

Holy Ghost Tent Revival rocked in the truest sense of the word, but also in a way that only they could. The Sentient Bean and the listeners present may never be the same.