Phantogram at Crescent Ballroom, 11/5/11 (VIDEO)

Phantogram Crescent Ballroom Saturday, November 5

It's been a good year for Phantogram. This trip-hop duo played a bunch of festivals, including Coachella, where they attracted a crowd of over 10,000 people in spite of sharing a time slot with The Strokes.

Phantogram is currently touring in support of its latest EP, Nightlife, released November 1. The album is brand spanking new, yet fans have already memorized the songs. I suppose 27.3 minutes of music isn't that much to learn, but it was impressive to hear most of the room singing along to songs that were only four days old.

Last night was one of the group's many sold out shows. Phantogram has been hyped up, and the buzz is well deserved. For one, "When I'm Small" is honestly one of the greatest songs I've ever heard, and two, the band sounds even better live than on their albums.

This is a rare phenomenon, thanks to the masses of heavily produced albums. Sure, Phantogram can only reproduce so many of its rich recorded sounds live, but Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel really brought the songs to life with the addition of a live drummer. Barthel's vocals were a bit more organic, making the songs that much more captivating.

There were a few complaints about the bass being too loud, but from what I heard, it sounded fine. Then again, I wore earplugs, so take this paragraph with a grain of salt. I acknowledge that Phantogram was loud, however, the increased volume created a lush, textured sound, even if it was at the expense of some ringing ears.

Phantogram took the stage under a veil of smoke and darkness. As the set progressed, the light show grew in intensity, enveloping the audience with profuse strobes and lasers. It was quite the departure from Youth Lagoon's minimalist set the night before.

The band stuck to business and played most of its catalog in an energetic hour-and-a-half set. Barthel's occasional attempts to speak were obscured by screaming fans. I believe she said thank you a couple times and explained that the band was not planning on leaving the stage for an encore (they didn't), but other than that, I couldn't hear a word she said, just a bunch of fans yelling, "I love you!" Not that I blame them, Barthel had a phenomenal stage presence.

It's funny how things work out sometimes. I was bummed that I missed Yus' opening slot at the Youth Lagoon show, yet as fate would have it, Reptar's van broke down and the band canceled the show.

There has been a lot of hype surrounding Youceff Kabal, the local man behind the Yus moniker. He is a one-man act that plays catchy chillwave, the Toro Y Moi comparisons are inevitable. He even kind of looks like a Chazwick Bundick without glasses. His songs combined elements of R&B, pop, and hip-hop.

In consolation for Reptar not making it to Phoenix last night, here's a link to excellent Christopher Hassiotis' interview.

Phantogram Setlist: 1. Intro 2. Don't Move 3. Bloody Palms 4. Running From the Cops 5. Mouthful of Diamonds 6. As Far As I Can See 7. Turning Into Stone 8. You Are The Ocean 9. Make A Fist 10. Turn It Off 11. 16 Years 12. Futuristic Casket 13. When I'm Small Encore: 14. Nightlife 15. All Dried Up

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Phantogram at Crescent Ballroom.

Personal Bias: I was kicking myself for missing the band last year and at Coachella.

The Crowd: Hipsters wearing ugly hats and girls with no rhythm whatsoever.

Overheard in the Crowd: "Where did you get that hat? Oh, I made it from a root."

Random Notebook Dump: Now I know for sure that I don't have epilepsy.

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Melissa Fossum
Contact: Melissa Fossum