Phantogram – Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix, AZ 10/23/13

The venue filled up early for the sold-out Phantogram show on Wednesday night for what would be their second appearance in Phoenix, and their first at the Crescent Ballroom.  The band, consisting of Sarah Barthel, Josh Carter and supporting members, took the stage around 9:45 with Barthel donning a leather jacket with fringes on the arms and Carter dressed in all black.   Barthel took her place at a synth at the front of the stage and screamed into the mic as bright flashing strobes from behind them shot out into the crowd.  From the beginning, Barthel radiated energy and sex appeal.

After a very intense intro and a brief pause, Barthel rhythmically whispered, “Don’t cry, don’t cry” and then a heavy drum beat and the intro guitar riff to “16 years” began.   Barthel faced the right of the stage from behind her synth, but twisted forward to sing into the mic while Carter stood to her left.   Hazy purple beams of light shoot around the room as she screamed “Is this love that I’m feeling again?”  and at the end, she twisted around from the synth and whispered again “don’t cry, don’t cry.”

Self-described as street beat, psych pop, the stylish duo look as if they just came from shooting an Express commercial. Throughout the night, Phantogram went through their catalog of hits from both Nightlife and Eyelid Movies as well as their newest self-titled EP.  While the  majority of the songs on 2009’s Eyelid Movies and their 2011 ep Nightlife are sleek and sexy, the live incarnations are more raw and driving, and the Barthel’s constant gesturing, shimmying and twitching is both sexy and engaging.  The music was a nice mix of synth and live instruments, and several times throughout the night, she took the mic from the stand and left her station to dance and connect with the crowd.

Carter also took the role of lead vocalist with Barthel singing backup a couple times throughout the night, most notably for “Turning into Stone,” which he started an octave higher than the ep version with Barthel taking over for the chorus.  The heavy drum finale of the song with both singing was definitely a high point of the night for the energetic crowd.

The turned-down recorded drum intro started as Barthel sang the high and light opening “huh, huh’s” of “When I’m Small” and on cue, the crowd sang along to the first lines of the verse.  She pulled  the mic off and moved to center stage close to the crowd for the climactic “I’d rather die/ than to be with YOU!”  After an hour and 10 minutes, they walk off stage as lights flash in rhythm to “Phant-O-Gram, Phant-O-Gram!”

 

Setlist:

Intro

16 Years

Running From the Cops

Mouthful of Diamonds

Black Out Days

Nothing But Trouble

Turning Into Stone

As Far as I Can See

Never Going Home

Don’t Move

Turn It Off

Howl

The Day You Died

When I’m Small

Celebrating Nothing

Futuristic Casket

 

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