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Phantogram at Cargo Review

PHANTOGRAM

It puzzles me why Phantogram aren’t doing the limousine shuffle already. Maybe they are, if so, my bad, it’s just I get the distinct impression that while they are making waves, gaining fans, releasing excellent records and ABSOLUTELY SMASHING IT LIVE, it hasn’t come back in diamonds yet.

YET…

Phantogram are (for all intents and purposes) the ultimate pop package. A 2-piece from New York City, Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel are fantastic at what they do. What’s that I hear you ask?

What they used to do was create very well constructed electro-pop music; real brain stickers (think less is more), but since the release of their most recent EP ‘Nightlife’ they have demonstrated a considerable shift and leapfrog in the right direction. Phantogram’s new album offers everything their first album did – just amped up to eleven. Progression is everything with a band that once relied on such a stripped-down set up (guitar/ synth/drum machine/vocal), and this progression is most apparent when they showcase their material (new and old) live. 

Cargo played host to the band’s most recent sell-out visit to London. There were a healthy mix of superfans, ticketless fans (in search of a way-in) and random people who had no idea who Phantogram were; hovering around the arches because they had received a tip-off telling them it was not to be missed.

It was not to be missed.

Everything from the lazers to the spinning disco ball came off perfectly in a glittery haze of all things good. The tic-a-tape that peppered the crowd during the drops of Phantogram’s biggest smash ‘When I’m Small’ was another seriously brilliant moment. Barthel and Carter were shy in-between songs, but this could not be further from the truth when they are hammering their instruments and wailing into microphones.

Special mention also has to go out to Phantogram’s newly recruited tour drummer Tim Oakley. This bearded stick-bearer is about as good a drummer as I have seen since Abe Cunningham destroying the pans with The Deftones back in the day. 

Old material and new material interwined, Phantogram played seamlessly and each and every member of the 400-strong crowd went bananas throughout.

As always, the big first album singles got the most love on the night. The guys gawped at the wonderful Sarah Barthel and the teeny bopper chicks jumped around like they were on a bouncy castle – HOWEVER – I was most enthralled by the new material. The new tracks were so brilliantly composed, executed and delivered that the ‘If or When?’ debate isn’t even up for discussion.

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