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Review: Phantogram, YUS Play Crescent Ballroom

Last night Phantogram, and surprise local additional YUS, took the stage at Crescent Ballroom in front of a sold out crowd and I hate to say it, but I was completely underwhelmed.

Yus opened the night, performing in place of Reptar. I didn’t hear an announcement that Reptar had canceled (their 1999 Chevy Express vehicular escort broke down in Blythe, Calif.), but a friend filled me in.

His performance was similar to his set at the Youth Lagoon show , but the size of the crowd seemed to add a boost to his confidence. Yus was a nice buildup to the much anticipated headliner.

Phantogram took the stage after what seemed like forever between sets, I even heard the guy next to me repeatedly ask, “Where the fuck are they?”

His question was answered at 10:10 P.M. when the band walked out onto a pitch black stage.

They opened with “Don’t Move” off the debut album Eyelid Movies, as projector lights backlit the band and painted the crowd purple and red.

It seemed like nearly everyone around me took out their phones and began to film and take pictures. This continued for the remainder of the night.

The Phoenix scene definitely loves Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel.

As the set continued, it became apparent the band was using backing tracks, most notably on “When I’m Small,” which was disappointing. It’s a live performance and I’d rather hear real voices, that may not be as good as the recording, than a track I can play in my car.

About halfway through, I realized the band had not said a single word to the crowd. It’s not expected that they’ll hold a conversation, but it’s nice to see a little personality sometimes. Even a simple, “how’s everyone doing tonight?” would have been appreciated.

The first words came when both members thanked the crowd and Barthel mentioned an encore, “this is the time where we walk off stage…” Instead, they played “Nightlife” and “All Dried Up,” my personal favorite from the evening.

Overall, I felt the performance was average. I’m not sure if my expectations were too high based on Eyelid Movies, an album I fell in love with almost two years ago, or the raving I’d heard about Phantogram’s first performance in the valley last year. Or maybe they just aren’t that great live anymore. Had the previous night’s show in L.A. drained the band of their passion? I don’t know.

Carter left the stage saying: “last time touring for a while, we’ll be back next year.” In the meantime, I’ll play Phantogram on my stereo and await their return when they’ll (hopefully) redeem themselves in my mind.

Or maybe it was just a dream, a bad movie that played across my eyelids.


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