Small band Trajecting
You need to know the band Phantogram. Every day people start things. Rev up engines, fire up the lawn mower, jump off the blocks prepping for a 100 meter dash. No one does that last one. Moved by people, experiences, occurrences, the motivation to begin down the path of anything worth pursing is ubiquitous. You just have to want it. Late last decade, two kids from upstate New York created Phantogram. Unlike common stories, they’re igniting, still playing music, and most crucial—people are listening.
Last Monday, Josh and Sarah got together to throw down to a sold out Terminal 5 crowd. After checking out a bit of the opener, lip talk, it was time for the electronic (pop/hip-hop/trip-hop, at this point I’m going to stop putting them into a genre, and just label them electro awesome sauce) music manufacturing duo to get after it.
Starting with “Intro Faces Cry,” Phantogram got into it with “Nothing But Trouble.” And as they played “Running from the Cops,” I realized just how far they’d come. Seeing them for the first time at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, when it was only Josh and Sarah and maybe like 15-20 people there, before the commercials and the sampling of their music on television, before the sellouts, the videos, before all of it, I remember my friend and I both left feeling they would one day reach this point. Love that feeling.
Which brings us to today. The band is hitting it hard in 2014, playing festivals (Sasquatch, Firefly, ACL) booking headlining tours, (they toured through the entire month of April and just announced a new set of dates beginning in September) and making the rounds on the late night talk show circuit, bottom-line is they’re putting in the work. And it’s evident in their more polished sound, as they ripped through the middle of a set that included “Black Out Days,” “The Day You Died” and a version of “Bill Murray” that sounded as if Beach House took control of the instruments. All things related to the ear were solid.
With all Phantogram is doing, they did seem a bit tired. Or maybe that was just me, regardless, they we’re in rhythmic stride, Sarah busting her ass to bang out huge vocals and Josh letting loose more with the guitar, going longer with the solo riffs that are in turn becoming that much more epic. “When I’m Small,” has never sounded this good, and after closing the set with that track, they left the fans screaming, kicking for more.
When it’s all said and done, the difference between a band like Phantogram and bands that perhaps aren’t on the same path, is their grind. On a million occasions I’ve left a performance believing a band will be big.Typically what happens when they don’t bust out huge is a combination of bad work ethic, severe creative differences and the unsustainability of huge personas finally gone ballistic. As Phantogram encored with “Mouthful of Diamonds” and a genius episode of “Celebrating Nothing,” it appears as they’re above the elements that tend to ruin meteoric rises. Well played.
Photo by Soul Dynamic Contributor Logan Berkowitz
Intro Faces Cry
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