On a night of unseasonably warm weather, Phantogram only made it hotter.
But Weeknight did not help. When there are multiple opening acts you hope they are like great hype men; not what you came to see but are getting you pumped for the artist you did come for. The duo seemed out of place and unnecessary. Andy, guitar and vocals, was an emo folk rocker; Flock of Seagulls meets Mumford and Sons. And Holly, keyboard and vocals, Velma Kelly meets Little Nell. If their music was as entertaining as their overall image and her quirky dance moves, it would have been a great start to the show. All that came to mind was a boring performance piece at a burlesque show.
Luckily, Until The Ribbon Breaks was an actual performance piece. A mixture of visuals, vocals, prerecorded samples, and live instrumentation replaced the blandness of the first act with bold flavor. Pete Lawrie Winfield surprised the audience with his dramatic beats and deep vocals. Accompanied by two other musicians, both on drums, and combined with visuals from things like Baz Luhrman's Romeo + Juliet, UTRB invaded the crowd's senses and held their attention. Even when he experienced some technical difficulties that appeared to cut one song short, the audience was just waiting for what was next.
When Lawrie picked up his trumpet, the crowd went wild. Although brief, it showcased another of his many talents. Talent that has been noticed by several stars in music. UTRB clearly puts thought into every piece, selecting his samples and lyrics carefully. Both reflect on the chaos of modern life and demonstrate that when done right, chaos can sound so good.
With that great lead in, Phantogram was poised to rock the stage. And rock the stage they did. Just like Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells, who rocked 930 Club last month, Sarah Barthel energizes the whole room. From start to finish, she controlled the stage with confidence and a sense of ownership. The light display was similar to those found in a music video or awards show performance.
A somewhat short set, fans were thrilled to hear popular songs like "Don't Move," "Lights" featured on the Hunger Games Catching Fire soundtrack, "When I'm Small," and "Black Out Days" which got an especially warm reception. New tracks they played were also met with excitement, including "Fall In Love," a more R&B/hip-hop sounding track that Barthel said they had only played one other time before. It took them six years to get just right. You can tell that their music is a labor of love, that they put in work to make it how they want it.
When you work hard on something you want to share it with others. "Howl at the Moon," from their new album coming out next year, was also played even though Barthel said they weren't supposed to share it.
Sold out shows, a song on the soundtrack of a record-breaking movie, and a new album on the way; Phantogram is ending 2013 on a high.