'Phantogram' wows at Jefferson

Since the release of their debut studio album “Eyelid Movies” in 2009, Phantogram has built a noticeable grassroots following through extensive touring campaigns, playing with the likes of The Antlers, The xx, Beach House and Ra Ra Riot. Since then, the synth-pop duo from New York has released “Nightlife” in 2011, an EP that spawned the critically acclaimed “Don’t Move;” collaborated with Outkast’s Big Boi and The Flaming Lips; and now have landed a song on “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” soundtrack.

The group brought an audience brimming with anticipation to its performance to the Jefferson Saturday night, having just released the self-titled four-song EP “Phantogram” in September. The tracks mark the group’s impressive return to the music scene and serve as a sample of their second studio album, “Voices,” out sometime early next year.

But the most surprising element of Saturday’s performance wasn’t the band’s new material, but the opening act: San Francisco producer Giraffage, whose sample-based pop mixed with R&B undertones puts him with the likes of Ryan Hemsworth or RL Grime. His danceable, confectionary beats kept the audience entertained until the highly anticipated appearance of the headline act.

Of the new material Phantogram performed, a standout was “Howling at the Moon.” The audience, while unfamiliar with the new material, appreciated Phantogram’s electric rock and shoegaze thumping signature sound.

“Black Out Days,” the single from their self-titled EP, was a captivating piece — the warped vocal sample synched with the stellar flashing lights, combined with Sarah Barthel’s steadfast vocals and the group’s signature ominous electronics was one the best performances of the night. The duo’s set list was a satisfying combination of crowd-pleasers — “Don’t Move,” “When I’m Small” — and the more subtle new material.

Barthel was clearly the audience’s favorite — at one point a group of fans declared their love for the talented singer by screaming, “You are a goddess Sarah!” Watching her dance feverishly across the state and listening to her dreamy vocals, it was hard to disagree. Her shadowy street-style rhythms fits in seamlessly with the honest lyrics of the band’s songs, drawing a collective emotional outpouring during “Celebrating Nothing,” as she sang “How many times can I blow it all/How many times can I burn it down.”

Saturday may have been Phantogram’s third stop in Charlottesville, but it resonated just as deeply with the crowd — and perhaps the group itself. At one point an audience member wanted his vinyl autographed and Josh Carter, the band’s guitarist, passed it around to the entire group to sign. Here’s to hoping that crowd member — and the rest of us — get to appreciate Phantogram’s talents again soon.

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