Phantogram|Crystal Ballroom|Portland, Oregon|18 October 2013
By Meghan Kearney
Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter, the dynamic duo that make up Phantogram seem to have an infinite number of things going their way right now. In addition to their obvious talent at crafting electro-rock jams, as explosive and haunting as they come, these two are making big moves. They’ve got a new song, “Lights” set to be featured on the upcoming Hunger Games, Catching Fire soundtrack sided next to artists like Coldplay, The National, Patti Smith and more. They performed another new track “Black Out Days” on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon earlier this month. They’ve been selling out large venue shows all along their current tour. And to top it off, the recent release of their self-titled EP has fans stirring for their upcoming album Voices to be released early next year. At their recent show at Portland, Oregon’s Crystal Ballroom, a packed house of elated fans was lucky enough to get a live preview of Phantogram’s future.
Upon entering the Crystal Ballroom the night of October 19th, a sold out statistic of concert goers scurried past signs decked throughout the entry way. Tonight’s light show was to be extreme; anyone affected by heavy lighting should take caution. They weren’t kidding. As the four live Phantogram performers took the stage, a laser light show of reds, blues, purples and whites shot through the air, timed perfectly with beats, welcoming the opening keys and riffs from Sarah & Josh. It only got better as the show went on. From atop the ballroom’s balcony, one may have been wondering if Sean Conery was going to show up and coach everyone through the Entrapment death net. To the back of the crowd, the most energetic body off stage was no doubt the mastermind in control of the magical, pulsing sea of lights, bouncing along to the beats. And as surely as eyes and senses were experiencing something heavenly, ears and hearts were being burned away as the band plowed through old and brand new tracks.
Old favorites like the much-loved “Don’t Move” was the first track to welcome deafening cheers from the crowd. Later in the set, the opening beat to “When I’m Small” sent the whole room into a frenzy as scorching white strobes shined in time with Sarah’s gorgeous “ohhhs.” After announcing her excitement to play so many new songs for us, Sarah kicked off the new track “Never Going Home” ushering in the soft chorus led by echoed vocals from Josh. “If this is love, I’m never going home” resonated throughout the ballroom. “Dude, these new songs are SO GOOD” overheard nearby, matched the awe spread across faces in the crowd. A short break in set brought the team of four back to the stage for a much welcomed encore, closing out their hour and a half long set of electronic perfection. As the lights died down, the crowd slowly began to gather the composure melted away by the unprecedented lightshow and performance from the rapidly rocketing duo. Soon, Phantogram aren’t going to need a sign telling their audiences of the spectacle about to take place inside venue doors.