Phantogram: Deep, Dark, Sexy

March 15, 2011
By Amy Powell 

Before driving south to Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival in Indio, California, Phantogram duo hit The Independent in San Francisco on March 15, 2011 for a sold out electro/ghetto/bass/synth/rock show. Originally from Saratoga Springs, New York, guitarist, Josh Carter and keyboardist, Sarah Barthel have found a tight/humble energy that keep fans yelling, “I love you Josh,” and “I love you Sarah,” throughout their set.

Barthel is Alison Goldfrapp meets Alice Glass (Crystal Castles) with energetic/focused movements, light/airy vocals, and impossibly shiny/sharp/sexy midnight black hair. Phantogram fans, male and female, are captivated by her confident allure.

Barthel at Independent. Photo provided by – SF Station

The third track of the set, “When I’m Small” starts with a synthesized beat while Barthel makes robotic dance moves behind her keyboard showing off metallic black pants and edgy bangs that fall just over her eyes. She chants breathy vocals into the microphone, “Ohhh Ohhh,” that echo on loop before drums, keys and guitar join in. Barthel has comfortable ease on stage and an angelic voice. The beat slows as she ends the song with innocent lyrics, “Show me love.”

Stage right, next to Barthel, Carter is dressed in a red plaid fleece buttoned shirt and blue jeans. His guitar sits low on his hip. His presence is laid back/nonchalant/mellow – a complete one-eighty from Barthel’s seductive mystery. His back-up vocals are calm and articulated – singing back-up on most songs in the set, minus two tracks, “Turn It Off” and “Bloody Palms” where he sings main vocals.

During, “Mouth Full of Diamonds,” Carter holds his guitar like a prop and energetically dances around stage (interacting with his band and microphone stand) to stimulate fans. And fans cheer in response. Quickly, Carter takes a moment from entertaining the audience, closes his eyes, tilts his head back, and moves his fingers romantically over his guitar strings. Just before the synthesizer brings the song to a halt, Carter looks to Barthel, her eyes are closed, her head is rocking to the bass drum synth beat – Phantogram is totally immersed in their dark world of electronic American rock.

Phantogram at Independent. Photo provided by – Photo Guurl

At 11:20pm, the show is over. After eight concise songs and a one-song encore, the lights dim to black, house lights are on, and fans shuffle outside.  Although the concert passed quickly (songs lasted 3 minutes, 45 seconds on average and the encore was even shorter), Phantogram did not disappoint. The duo shared one debut song, “16 Years” (originally meant for Coachella fans), and hit each number with strong focus and force. Phantogram is a fresh phenomenon, and fans have pure passion for their curious sound creation.

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