Live review: Phantogram, The Fillmore (6/25/2014)



Phantogram w/ Bad Things
The Fillmore
June 25, 2014

Lights flashed as a hauntingly repetitive voice blared through the speakers and the anticipation in the tightly packed Fillmore grew. After a few minutes, the crowd got exactly what they had been waiting for - the delicious fusion of synthpop, rock and electronic that is Phantogram. The duo, made up of Sarah Barthel (vocals/keyboard) and Josh Carter (vocals/guitar), was joined by a drummer and keyboardist in their energetic performance on June 25, 2014.

Producing live shows with vocals that are audibly comparable to the album is one of the group's definitive strengths. Their rendition of the catchy hit "Fall in Love" sounded undeniably similar to the album version, giving a sense of legitimacy to Barthel's airy voice.

"Are you guys sweating out there?" Barthel called out after several beat-heavy, dance-inducing songs. It's always a bit alarming to hear Barthel speak in her naturally soft, raspy voice after she's powerfully and beautifully belted out a song. She and Carter share vocal duties, which adds a bit of flavor and variety to songs that might otherwise sound fairly similar.

Most expect a visually appealing show from Phantogram - after all, the band was named after an optical illusion. From the colorful beams of light that swirled and shot out through the crowd to the moment when Barthel donned a sparkling, light-reflective robe to sing a more down-tempo song, the evening was aesthetically pleasing in every sense.

At just a little over an hour, the set wasn't terribly long, but it contained many songs from Phantogram's newest album, Voices, as well as several older crowd pleasers like "Don't Move" and "When I'm Small."

"I believe that we will win!" the crowd chanted at the end of the show in both a successful attempt to lure Phantogram back on stage and a tribute to the U.S. men's soccer team that competes today. After playing a two-song encore, the night ended much like it began - with hypnotic notes and bright lights.

Having first seen Phantogram at Bonnaroo in 2012, it was interesting to witness the group's progression. Many were singing along enthusiastically to songs both old and new, and while Phanty has yet to achieve stardom, they've undoubtedly gained a loyal fan base.

Bad Things, the opening act, featured Olympic snowboarder Shaun White as guitarist and former Augustana member Jared Palomar as bassist. Though the lead singer Davis LeDuke felt under the weather (and told the audience continuously), the group seemed to keep the crowd pleased and attentive. Determining whether the attention came from White's presence or solely the group's musical abilities was hard to do, though. A quick scan of the room at any given moment during the performance, and you likely caught a glimpse of more than one camera zoomed in hoping to capture a picture of the well-known redhead.

If you missed the show, don't worry. After continuously thanking the crowd for their energy and apologizing for excluding Charlotte from previous tours, Barthel promised everyone that Phantogram would make an appearance in the Queen City again in the future.

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