Phantogram @ The Fillmore with The Range.
Text and images by Daniel Mrazik.
One: Opener James Hinton, a.k.a. The Range. As you’ll read in any write up about The Range, his songs pay homage to the digital era – in the most obvious ways with the turntables, Macbook and synthetic drums and instruments, and in a less obvious way with sampling. The sampling is characterized by snippets pulled from the depths of YouTube like in “Metal Swing.” Against the grain, the clips are not random noises or off-their-rocker banterers, but rather people expressing themselves sincerely through the medium of the Internet video.
Sincere also describes The Range. Following a few of the songs, he’d offer his thanks for coming and talk a bit about himself, but the whole time it felt like an unassuming friend was up there talking and that “Florida” and “Copper Wire” were being spun for me to jive to. With all his tamed headbanging, wrist flicks, and hype jumps, though, you could tell he was having just as much fun as anyone in the audience.
As the last pulsating notes faded, the one-man opener left the stage for…
Two: Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter, a.k.a. Phantogram, a two-dimensional image that, from a particular vantage point, appears three-dimensional. This third dimension could represent a few extensions of the group. The first and primary actualization is the music. The second is each artist that the duo has collaborated with and included in their creative process since their follow-up release, Voices. Up until that point, two had been the defining number of Phantogram, but collaboration and an openness to outside parties show that 2+ may be the more accurate figure now. And the third is, well…
Three: Phantogram’s most recent album. Last week, they treated the crowd to all but two songs from the record while pulling out past hits like “When I’m Small” and “Don’t Move.” However, the most powerful moments came during “Destroyer” and “Barking Dog” which took visual effects beyond flashing lights and multi-colored beams.
For “Destoyer,” Barthel donned a long black cape, Maleficent-style, and stood as the tallest figure on stage. Hovering ominously above everyone as flames rolled in slow motion on the screen behind her (akin to the album cover), she belted the refrains – the encompassing scene burning all the while.
“Barking Dog,” their opening encore piece, paid tribute to Becky, Sarah’s sister, as home videos reeled on the screen where the flames had been previously. Carter sang as if narrating the frames behind him while Barthel faced away from the audience toward the images the entire time. Fittingly followed up by “Cruel World,” that pair of songs almost made the finale “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore” seem superfluous, but being the first single off Three, it held everyone until the end.