Last Saturday at Royale, EXITMUSIC and PHANTOGRAM put on an explosive performance of light and sound. Sometimes, there was more light than sound, but it didn't stop the faces of fans from lighting up with happiness.
Exitmusic kept the evening slow and thoughtful, with moments of intense emotion that blew your hair back like that Maxell tape commercial. The recorded music is reminiscent of Say Hi’s more emphatic tracks, or maybe if the Yeah Yeah Yeahs took yoga. Singer Aleksa Palladino crooned and swayed and the band followed along like ripples from an elegant dive into a serene pond. The first two songs of the set were vibrant and full, but the songs began to mellow out from then on. It was okay though, because it was one of those genuine moments where everything slows down and the entire room stood in awe, unconcerned with the little things in life, and able to embrace the wholeness of the experience.
The painfully blinding lights during Phantogram were so bright and intense on the first song that I was partially convinced that the band was intentionally trying to hurt the audience. Was it perhaps because vocalist Sarah Barthel was trying to disctract us from the fact that she may have been lip syncing? Turns out her voice is just that good. Her facial expressions and pristine vocals drove the live show, as well as the booming crashes of the hip-hoppin’ drums and smooth stylin’ synths. Barthel didn’t say much between songs, and what came out was hushed and usually lost on the noisy crowd. They were probably just as eager as I was for the next song to start. Towards the end of the show, the lights were less ridiculous and I could actually keep my head up, without having to look down and close my eyes every few seconds… unless I was averting my eyes from the spectacular performance that Phantogram can deliver.
Photos and video by Ty Ueda.