Phantogram had two big SoCal dates this weekend, starting with Friday night at House of Blues, Anaheim, and capping off with Dia De Los Deftones on Saturday. The duo filled HOB for their headlining show and showed me why their fans are so loyal to this twosome.
Hailing from upstate New York, Phantogram consists of Sara Barthel on vocals, keyboards, and bass, and Josh Carter on vocals and guitar, assisted by a backing band of drums and synth. The duo has found chart success with “Black Out Days,” “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore,” and “When I’m Small,” all of which they played for the full house. They released their fourth album, “Ceremony,” in 2020 and their set included a nice blend of “old” and new.
November 4, 2022
The crowd was warmed up by GLÜ, “a hybrid organism created from machinery and instruments, pedals and triggers” from Brussels. The solo artist took the stage with a guitar and synth for background tracking, and – something that can’t always be done well – used Auto-Tune nicely on her voice.
The songs were smooth and at times, bouncy. It was nice to see more than half the house filled for a relatively unknown artist, and the crowd response was mostly appreciative.
I confess to not knowing much about Phantogram before the show, and I was incredibly impressed by the wonderfully soulful and energetic show, especially considering the “synth pop indie band” moniker. Even their dark songs, like “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore,” brought on good “feels,” while hitting you in the gut with a song that is more about finding the happiness you once had than it is about drugs.
In addition to “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore,” “Black Out Days,” and “When I’m Small” were basically sing-along songs where the whole house knew the words. Other favorites were “You’re Mine,” “Bad Dreams,” “Mouthful of Diamonds,” “Fall in Love,” “Cruel World,” “Howling at the Moon,” and “Mister Impossible.”
During the encore of “Answer” and “When I’m Small,” they told the audience they would be hosting an after party as DJs in the Foundation Room. I had to stop by, of course, and the place was wall-to-wall fans. This was not a surprise as their fanbase is DEFINITELY dedicated – one attendee told me she was just happy to be in the same room as them – and rightfully so. I am definitely a new recruit into the Phantogram army. I went in not thinking I knew any of their songs, but it turns out I know quite a few. I actually already had them on a playlist with other bands like Portishead, FC Kahuna, Hooverphics, and Kongos.
+Phantogram will spend the rest of the month on the road, their first tour in three years. If you get a chance, check them out and become a recruit yourself.