8/25/2019 Phantogram @ the Palace Theater by Todd B. Johnson
In a nutshell, the definition of the word Phantogram is a way to produce a 2D image that is distorted in a particular way so as to appear, to a viewer at a particular vantage point, three-dimensional, standing above or recessed into a flat surface. This is a somewhat perfect analogy to the band Phantogram who consists of two main members, Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter, who together are greater than the sum of their parts. Sarah is usually the main singer of the band (and sometimes plays bass) and Josh, who occasionally is lead vocalist, plays guitar. They do have a backing band for drums and keyboards. Phantogram are kinda like the ‘little band that could.’ Whenever I tell anyone about the band, people tell me they recognize the name but they don’t know any of the songs they sing (but if I play one of their songs they usually instantly recognize the song.)They have a very die-hard fan base which was very evident at the very packed sold-out show at the Palace Theater in St Paul (which Phantogram played back in 2017 when the Palace, an old vaudeville theater, was re-opened decades after they closed.
Between First Avenue and the Palace TheaterI have been lucky enough to see Phantogram 3 different times over the years. The vocals by the sultry & soft spoken Sarah Barthel were on point and were perfectly complimented by Josh Carter’s guitar and the rest of the band. They played all there big hits like “Howling at the Moon”, “16 Years”, and “Celebrate Nothing.” They also played a couple of tracks like “Mister Impossible” from their forthcoming album. It was great moody stage show. They used a scrim for the first couple of songs and after that there were a few songs where wasn’t really any spotlights. It was kinda hard to see their faces. It didn’t matter though because the music spoke for itself.
The opening band, Bob Moses, is not the name of an actual person in band, but it is two man group consisting of, singer and guitar player, Tom Howie, and keyboardist Jimmy Valance started the night off the electronic moody bang and were a very pleasant surprise. It’s amazing how much amazing music can be made only by two people.
Review and photos by Todd Johnson