Childhood friends Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel began performing as Charlie Everywhere in New York in 2007, before changing their name to Phantogram. They write and record in a remote barn in Upstate New York called Harmony Lodge, and having just released their third studio album, aptly named ‘Three’, the band visited the UK for just four dates. Having supported bands such as Muse and Alt-J, the band are probably used to huge arenas and stadiums. However, a venue as small Manchester’s Deaf Institute proved to be just as good a stage for the band.
Beginning their set with hit ‘Funeral Pyre’, the crowd roar, and then oddly descend into silence. This is a softer song to begin with, as Sarah’s vocals resonate around the room beautifully. When the beat does kick, the crowd livens up, and the gig truly begins.
There is a strange mix of fans here; from 14 year old girls with their faces covered in glitter, to middle aged men bopping their heads at the back of the room. Their one common cause? They are all having an absolutely amazing time.
The band race through some of their massive hits such as ‘Black out Days’, ‘Don’t Move’ and ‘Turning into Stone’. Their genre is rather difficult to define; Josh himself defines them as playing music with “lots of rhythms, swirling guitars, spacey keyboards, echoes [and] airy vocals.” Inspired by bands such as The Beatles, the Flaming Lips and Prince, their sound is probably best described as ‘electronica pysch pop’. Whatever it is, it’s totally original, and everyone seems to dig it.
Arriving at their new single from the new album, ‘Same Old Blues’, Phantogram really seem to be relishing the cheers from the crowd. Featured on FIFA 17, the song has already gained a large fanbase. This song is a standout moment; the chanting of the intro echoes and bounces from wall around the room, before the electronica kicks in and takes the music onto a whole other level. The crowd sings their lungs out to this one, even singing along to the guitar line.
Boasting a mammoth set of 16 songs to get through in just over an hour, Phantogram continue to rip through some more big tunes such as their first ever single ‘Mouthful of Diamonds’ and ‘Bad Dreams’. The band are relatively small in the UK, but you wouldn’t believe that if you could see the amount of songs the crowd knows word for word.
After playing their ‘final’ song, ‘When I’m Small’, the crowd are extremely disappointed to see the band exit the stage. Of course, the band re-enter and are met with a much happier reaction. Going straight into ‘Barking Dog’, its easy to see why this band are so well received. Their fast paced, energetic performance never falters, and they provide a new, original sound, which is a hard task to master in today’s music industry.
Phantogram end with possibly their biggest track ‘You Don’t Get Me High Anymore’, which the crowd receives with pure delight.
This gig has been a pleasure to watch. From gentle, sombre beats to hyper energetic tracks, Phantogram provide a beautiful mix of music. Hopefully, next time they visit the UK they’ll do a couple more dates, and if Manchester’s reaction is anything to go by, they’ll be welcomed back with open arms.