New York natives Phantogram played before a sold out audience last night at Boston’s Paradise Rock Club. The band, originally formed in 2007 by longtime friends Sarah Barthell and Josh Carter, plays a unique confluence of psychadelic electropop and trip-hop that ultimately comes off sounding like a more rhythmically dense—and thus more danceable—Portishead.
Barthell and Carter share the mic, both singing through thick layers of reverb, but Phantogram shines brightest with Barthell at the helm. Her ethereal, yet trenchant vocals blanket the syncopated electronica to create a balanced cohesion of sound. Somehow she managed to maintain that mellifluous resonance while seriously rocking out to her music, a contagious practice that resulted in breathless in-between-song addresses to an equally breathless crowd.
Phantogram’s set included several tracks from their only studio album, Eyelid Movies, and was peppered with some exciting new songs that will be featured on their upcoming LP, Voices, set to be released in early 2014. A well-executed light show increased the already visceral appeal of the band’s sound by alluding to the aggrandizing effects connoted by the word phantogram—a form of optical illusion that makes two-dimensional figures appear 3-D. Following a stage-exit after a solid performance of one of their most popular songs, “When I’m Small,” raucous cheers of “Encore!” brought Phantogram back to the stage and lasted for several minutes after the band returned, overwhelming Barthell and nearly bringing her to tears. The band responded well to the plaudits of their fans, adding a three-song coda to their performance that was highlighted by “Mouthful of Diamonds.” Upon its release, Voices will do very well with everyone who attended the show.