CHBP Review Day 3: Phantogram is Your Favorite Band Now
There is very little about Phantogram that’s not to like. A lazy reviewer might say that they are this generation’s Portishead mixed with TV on the Radio. I’d never stoop to that level. Thing is, you want to include all these bands you loved before them, because they are such an amalgam of so many genres, with a perfect synthesis of digital and analog, the sample and the live performance.
As one of the last performances of the Capitol Hill Block Party, Phantogram had the onus of stirring energy loose from the weary bones of the Sunday audience. They were quite up to the task. Their set started with a viscous bass line sonically obliterating everything else on stage, then the other voices came to the fore, with Sarah Barthel’s voice coming through like the rays of the setting sun poking through the clouds behind the Main Stage.
Phantogram was a fitting choice to be one of the anchors of this relay. They encapsulate the energy of the weekend with their nods to various genres with their music (e.g. trip hop, pop, rock) and each of their songs feels like a victory. The line between sample and live drum is intentionally blurry, and what they do on stage replaces a bit of their complexity on their albums with music you can dance to, or understand why others would.
There were the moments that reminded you where you were. The people living in the apartments flanking the stage — how they had to endure this weekend, or how they were taking advantage with their balcony views. There was the person in the eagle costume, there were the tattooed security guards (made no less imposing when they snacked on hummus and pita), there was the intermittent cloud of reefer and the general roar of the thousands cramming west, towards the stage. It was way too much, and beautiful, and here and there everything lined up and sounded darn close to perfect.