Two days after releasing their new and highly anticipated EP Nightlife, Phantogram packed the Fillmore and played a sonically intense and visually stunning performance. Seamlessly integrating new tracks into their set list, the audience was entranced and uncontrollably captivated throughout the sold out show.
Sarah Barthel (keyboards and vocals) and Josh Carter (guitar) make up this psych-pop duo (Tim Oakley plays drums with them for their live shows), but don’t let their small group fool you – for what they lack in band members they make up for in epileptic light shows, lyrical waves of sound, rumbling bass, and driving electro beats. At times the night even felt more like a rave than a concert and I don’t think I’ve ever head three people make more a more immediate and urgent sound.
Backlit for most of the night, the band cultivated a sense of mystery for the evening. The fact that they had almost no rapport with the audience gave the sense that they were ‘all business’. The strobe lights and stage fog only added to the overall effect of a grand scale rave party. Staying very true to their recorded versions, Sarah and Josh performed “Mouthful of Diamonds” mid-set, as well as “Futuristic Casket”, “You Are The Ocean,” and “When I’m Small”.
For “10,000 Claps”, the bass stopped and the Sarah treated us to an almost acoustic and sparse number. Unfortunately after being bombarded by the bass all night, the audience took this moment to chat with their neighbors and regain their breath. Perhaps quiet songs aren’t this band’s forte.
Off of their new EP, they performed the title track “Nightlife” which according to Sarah, they had been “sitting on for 2 years and now can finally play live.” The track “Don’t Move” is sure to be the hit off the new EP and after leaving the show it was the song that stayed with me for the evening (despite never having heard it before).
I saw them open for The XX at the Great American Music Hall in 2010 and although I loved their album Eyelid Movies, I wasn’t impressed by their performance. Now, less than a year and a half later, they have learned to dominate the stage, captivate their audience, and get the whole venue on its feet and dancing. Make sure not to miss them when they pass through town again, but make sure to get those tickets early as I’m sure their fan base is only growing.