The line for the sold out show stretched halfway down Walker Street to the next intersection. Outside Houston’s Warehouse Live the single file parade was riddled with plenty of people trying to get last minute tickets with a lot of people getting turned away empty handed and of course dedicated Phantogram fans beaming that they had gotten tickets as soon as the show date was announced after hearing the buzz on the band at SXSW this year.
Doors opened a little late at 8:20 PM and Teen, an opener also hailing from New York, fired up the stage for what would be an unforgettable show. Teen churned out a simply orchestrated, dark pop meets post punk, set with impressive four piece vocal harmonies. The crowd seemed to have a soft spot for the interesting electronic sampling and bouncy vocals.Teen was definitely well received by Houston getting cheers after every song. The band is scheduled to continue to tour North America for with dates listed until the end of May. The band’s earliest listed dates take them to sunny California just before what looks to be a small European tour.
Only a few minutes after Teen leaves the stage a small group of people get to setting up Phantograms very interesting smoke and mirror lighting setup. A few steady beam lights shoot across opposite sides of the stage to give away the position of a few strategically placed mirrors. Anyone in the crowd could tell this was not just about the music, this act cares about the visuals. What looks to be a band/venue mom sets out setlist covered by little white towels. (Hey lady, secrets don’t make friends…) The band takes the stage and the crowd roars. I didn’t fully grasp the “sold out-ness” of this show until this moment. Close to fifteen hundred plus people behind me screaming their faces off. The feeling is electric. The crowd was pulsing to the deep bass and oh so on point vocals of Sarah Barthel & Josh Carter in no time. The band plays what feels like a 2 hour set of their newest tracks from the band’s full-length Voices and what seemed, to the crowd, to be VERY familiar old material.
The crowds reaction is the same to every single track, pure, concentrated excitement. “Howling At The Moon”, a Texas inspired song, seemed to be the song of the night, but nothing prepared us for the chest pounding two song encore. The band gave us everything they had just before fading to black for the night.
YOU need to see this band live.
Phantogram is scheduled to play two and half weeks in Northern Europe. They are set to return to the U.S. the last week of May. They will touch down on the West Coast and later bounce over to the East Coast before making their way back to Austin, Texas for The Austin City Limits Music Festival. There’s still plenty of chances to see Phantogram in 2014. Plan accordingly folks.
Words and photos by: Danny Hernandez