ACL Live Shot: Phantogram
Duo fuses Beatles and Bowie to Prince and J Dilla
By Kahron Spearman,
11:12AM, Mon. Oct. 13, 2014
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.
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.