“Thank you Twin Cities. Thank you so much for being with us tonight,” exclaimed Phantogram vocalist Sarah Barthel. “Minneapolis/St. Paul is my favorite place to play in America. I don’t say that lightly! The Cities has always been very supportive of us, ever since our first performance here at the 7th Street Entry. There were a 100 or more people there — I don’t even know how you found out about us…” Indeed, Barthel meant every word as October 1st marked the band’s third Twin Cities performance in under a year — and the duo Josh Carter and Barthel seemed damned pleased to be here.
Phantogram’s Wednesday night performance felt extra special — almost like a victory lap. Not only did the duo more than double their draw by playing to a near 3,500 capacity audience at the Myth Live, but also introduced an expansive “new” sound with the addition of two touring musicians. “New” in the respect the band sounded bigger and brighter than ever, injecting all new life into (now) classics “When I’m Small” and “Mouthful of Diamonds” and propelling their latest songs off 2014’s Voices.
Echoes of voices accompanied with beats played over the sound system as the band took the stage. Beginning with “Nothing But Trouble” and “Running From The Cops,” Phantogram progressively worked their way up to booty-shakers “As Far As I Can See” and “Black Out Days.” The show also benefited from the deeper catalog which allowed more flexibility in controlling the flow and tempo of the show.
Over the course of the past few tours, the band has utilized mirrors, lights and strobes to visually push their songs. Perhaps taking cue from Arcade Fire’s Reflector Man, the most euphoric moment of the night was reserved for “Bill Murray” — not the actor, but the song. After “The Day You Died,” the house lights went down, only to reveal a sparkling angel. Adorned in a reflective mirror cloak, Barthel stood elevated on a center-stage riser. Carter remained upstage, playing guitar and adding vocal touches as white and yellow lights flooded against Barthel’s angelic form. With production elements perfectly complimenting and elevating the song all at the same time, it was in this moment it became apparent Phantogram are thinking bigger and evolving as a live act.
Having caught several appearances since 2011, from sound-to-production-to-presentation, this was the best Phantogram performance I have witnessed to date. And that Sarah and Josh, I do not say lightly.
Phantogram continue their 2014 US tour through October. Find dates near you here.
Nothing But Trouble
Running From The Cops
As Far As I Can See
Black Out Days
Turning Into Stone
The Day You Died
I Don’t Blame You
Fall In Love
Howling At The Moon
When I’m Small
Mouthful of Diamonds
Speed of Life