It was something bigger than a band playing on a stage; It was love.
When it comes to Phantogram, I’m one of the lucky snobs that knew them back in the day. While it wasn’t too close to their Charlie Everywhere days, it was a mere 11 months or so after Eyelid Movies became a thing and when the duo became accessible to us here on the West Coast.
April 29, 2010, Phantogram opened for The Antlers at Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa. This would be my introduction. This would be the day I purchased Eyelid Movies from the hands of Sarah Barthel, who took on a dual role that night of band member and merch girl. It was just Sarah and Josh back then, Sarah manning the beats on her black MacBook between tracks. And it was awe inspiring.
I caught them again opening for The XX in San Diego a little over a month later. It was the same show on a bigger stage; and this was a good thing.
The opportunity arose to watch them perform again at this past Monday, 10/21, at the Observatory. While in awe in 2010, I’ve been completely speechless for the past two days trying to find the right way to describe what exactly took place on that stage.
Post-Observatory, Phantogram has joined micro group of bands to leave me with Eternal Sunshine Syndrome. It’s that feeling when you know what you’ve just seen could have possibly been the pinnacle of your experience and just knowing that next concert you attend will leave you with a bit of sadness because it can just never be as good as what you’ve just witnessed.
The performance was one of maturity and gratitude. The sound has evolved into something just a bit more perfectly loose with the addition of two touring members (drums and guitar). New material was covered, giving a glimpse into what can be expected from Voices.
As if the entire display wasn’t embracingly beautiful as it was, the moment of no return left the crowd buzzing. As Sarah took to the stage for the encore, the crowd of a thousand lit up and tears ran from her eyes. And those tears continued throughout a sampling of their fresh track Howling At The Moon.
This moment of humility and gratitude tied the entire night together and a little group from Saratoga Springs owned the entire house. If falling in love with music is such a thing, Phantogram can show you how.
Phantogram is why I photograph bands.
All images © Dusty Knapp
Buy Eyelid Moves on iTunes
Buy the 2013 EP feauting Black Out Days on iTunes