ACL Live Shot: Phantogram

Duo fuses Beatles and Bowie to Prince and J Dilla

On the final day of ACL Fest’s second weekend, Greenwich, New York, jewel Phantogram buffed a gemstone all their own. Initially a tricky read thanks to numerous technical difficulties hampering the first third of the show, the electro-pop outfit turned coal into a mouthful of diamonds.

Diamonds on the soles of their shoes: Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

The duo’s diverse array of influences, from the Beatles and David Bowie to Prince and J Dilla, never fell prey to lip service. Their luminescent sound resonates all of its forbearers fully integrated into a singular electronic tapestry. Sarah Barthel’s smooth vocals overlaid a fine patina on mind-bending drum patterns normally found in Madlib productions while maintaining an indie-pop sensibility.

“Nothing But Trouble” began with vocal issues, a skintight-leathered Barthel motioning at the mics for more volume. Additional problems continued through “Running From the Cops” and R&B-flavored “Black Out Days.” Sticks flying, Josh Carter took over on his drum kit and powered into a muscular rendition of “Mouthful of Diamonds.”

Now at full strength, Phantogram made up for lost time with crack delivery of their biggest tracks: “Don’t Move,” chart heater “Fall in Love,” and commercially famous “When I’m Small.” Through it all, Barthel and Carter bounced with festival energy. This proved critical, and Phantogram delivered for a patient crowd ready for some excitement despite the technical headaches.

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ACL Fest, Phantogram, ACL Fest 2014, Sarah Barthel, Josh Carter, Beatles, david Bowie, Prince, J Dilla, Madlib

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