Just last month, Phantogram finally released one of the most anticipated albums of the year, Three.
They are a band that has proven with every song to expect the unexpected. Earlier this year, they joined forces with Big Boi from Outkast to create Big Grams with an album and summer tour to follow. The Phantogram fans had to wait just a little longer to hear the next album from the duo, which consists of Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter, but it was oh so worth it.
Their calculated releases of "You Don't Get Me High Anymore," "Cruel World," and "Same Old Blues" sporadically upped hype until the album release and only intensified the fans' dire need to get their hands on the new album. Now, shortly after the albums release, Phantogram hit the road for what is looking like an almost sold-out out tour. We had the pleasure of being able to capture them at their receptive shows at NYC's Hammerstein Ballroom and Washington DC's 930 Club.
Opening with Funeral Pyre off of Three
is the best choice the group made. Performing behind a giant semi-see through screen, the band launched an encapsulating, vacuum-like sound -- the audience was completely hooked from the second they hit the stage. The pounding bass and drums were extraordinary. They performed the first four songs all while being silhouetted with spot lights, lasers, and flashing lights. Never clearly seeing their faces, the mood was set for an evening of unpredictability and pure power.
The evening was filled with a bevy of new songs from Three
along with the Phantogram "must-plays" mixed in, like "Black Out Days," "Don't Move," and from the Nightlife
EP, "Turning Into Stone."
Jumping right into "You're Mine" Barthel and Carter finally showed themselves from behind the magic curtain and the audience was immediately drawn to the moves and stylish, all-black outfit of Barthel. Famous for her outfits over the years, she wore a very long black cape, looking like something Dracula would be rocking around town in. She had smoke coming out of the cape, making it look very melodic and dark all at the same time. Spotlights continued to hone in on their performance for the entire evening. Finally, we could see them clearly.
The band went into a personal favorite, "Answer." It sounded even better live than on the studio version as Barthel flung around and played the bass. Continuing on, the duo went back and forth between new and old, hitting a big crowd favorite, "Mouthful of Diamonds."
When they came out for an encore, they once again performed behind the magic curtain. Project style old school family photos and movies were played, making it one of the most powerful moments in music. "Barking Dog" was emotional, as it was dedicated to Barthel's sister. Their live performance of the track was extremely passionate and powerful. The curtain rose again and they went into the monster single "Fall in Love," and after that, they went out with a bang with "You Don't Get Me High Anymore."
Phantogram is taking over the world one concert at a time. They are group with their own unique style that cannot be simply defined by one genre. When asked what they are or who they sound like, between rock, EDM, rap -- you can't choose, and they continue to prove how well that works in their live show.