Phantogram and Giraffage at the Mohawk
Two nights of sold out shows at the Mohawk may have not been enough to satiate Austin’s demand for the psych pop group Phantogram. Kudos must be given to the band for opting to play in a smaller venue that serves to compliment their sound rather than playing more vacuous venues, like Austin Music Hall or the Cedar Park Center, that would have undoubtedly compromised it. Sunday night’s performance demonstrated how a fringe electro band from Saratoga Springs, New York is able to tap into mass appeal by balancing their dark, ominous electro-beats with contagious pop choruses that are as haunting as they are danceable.
The show began with opening act, Giraffage, from San Francisco, who administered the indoctrinating dose of electro-ambience that lubricated the audience for the electronic spectrum to come. Giraffage is the creation of the 24-year old multi-instrumentalist, Charlie Yin, who blends relaxed chill-wave rhythms into staccato, finely tuned beats that are equally melancholic as they are nostalgic. Giraffage immediately won over the crowd and was successful in getting everyone dancing while simultaneously setting a relaxed and ethereal vibe that would carry into Phantogram’s set.
As it was Sunday night on Red River, the street’s early sound curfew loomed, and Phantogram hurried to begin their set. Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter met while in high school, but in the six years they’ve been making music they have managed to perfect a unique sound that they describe as “street beat, psych pop.”
The duo assumed the stage along with their backing drummer and launched into a captivating one-hour set that kicked off with songs like “16 Years” and “Running From the Cops.”
Sarah Barthel’s voice is as enticing and mysterious as her appearance. A true indie rock goddess, Sarah is an enchanting chanteuse who reflects the ominous and mysterious aesthetic that is also found in her music.
Phantogram played their newest single “Black Out Days,” which shook the crowd with it’s jilted hooks and soaring vocals, before winding their way down to the end of their set and concluding with their haunting soft-spoken hit, “When I’m Small.” After a brief walk off the stage the band hurriedly returned for their two-song encore, which featured the highlight of the night in the song “Mouthful of Diamonds.”
Phantogram have only released two albums in their six year existence, but they’ve managed to carve out their own niche sound and more excitingly, they keep exploring and expounding on it. -Lee Ackerley