Posted in music | pictures on May 20, 2010

photos by Michael Dubin, words by Rachel Kowal


It's hard to know where to even begin when it comes to Railbird, the relatively unknown opener. When I walked into the Bowery Ballroom and saw Railbird on stage, I didn't know where to focus my energy. The bass player wore a top hat paired with his t-shirt, the female back-up singer wore some kind of Bill Cosby-inspired jacket, and then there was the singer, Sarah Pedinotti. Pedinotti was decked out in a red sparkly number and had three huge turkey feathers tucked into her unruly nest of curly brown hair. She was quite a sight to behold, and her lyrics - which covered nervous break downs, dreams, and haunted houses - were no less intriguing. Railbird closed their set with a "Limousine," which features the harmonica and an old-timey microphone, which certainly added pizzazz to the vocals.

Light Pollution followed Railbird's theatrical set of Americana/folk. This band didn't really do it for me. There's nothing particularly offensive about the Chicago band - their melodies are pretty good and the singer definitely had a lot of energy - but there was nothing particularly memorable about them either.

In the lull before Phantogram began performing, the stage was stripped bare and entirely re-arranged. Luckily, Phantogram doesn't require much - just a keyboard or two, a couple of mics, and a guitar... oh yeah, and the projection screen. Throughout their performance, images of dolphins swimming around, a rain-stained car window, and wind blowing through a meadow danced across the screen.

Given the experimental style of their music and their flashy appearance, it's hard to believe that Sarah Barthel and Joshua Carter practice in a barn in upstate New York and didn't just step off the L train. Their music relies heavily on samples and pre-recorded beats that are made to make you dance. (It's fun to imagine Sarah wearing pumps and a skin-tight black ensemble, head banging next to some chickens though.)

Phantogram's set was short - just 10 songs, including the encore. But their moody dance music, hip outfits, and intoxicating lyrics make for a compelling show. The allure of Sarah's smooth voice compliments Joshua's more raucous vocals.

And they were clearly excited to be playing to a sold-out crowd. "We're a very young band and from the bottom of our hearts, we're just so glad you're here," said Josh as their show neared to a close. With a big smile on her face, Sarah whipped out her iPhone and proceeded to take a photo of the crowd before walking off stage.

The Bowery Ballroom show happened last night, May 19th, and was part of a tour that also included a show at Maxwell's in Hoboken one night earlier. The Bowery setlist with more pictures of the headliner from Maxwell's, below...











Phantogram - Bowery Ballroom Set List
As Far As I Can See
Let Me Go
Mouthful of Diamonds
Running From the Cops
You Are the Ocean
Make a Fist
Turn It Off
When I'm Small

All Dried Up
Futuristic Casket



Comments (11)

definitely would

Posted by Anonymous | May 20, 2010 6:34 PM

I liked Phantogram's set last night and they were genuinely happy to be there.

Posted by Anonymous | May 20, 2010 7:36 PM

bumped i missed this :(

Posted by dee | May 20, 2010 9:11 PM

i wish phantogram got the attention that is given to the sleigh bellzzz.

Posted by Anonymous | May 20, 2010 9:39 PM

yeahhhh Dubin!

Posted by Brian | May 20, 2010 11:55 PM


Posted by Anonymous | May 21, 2010 5:23 AM

i would eat the corn out of her shit

Posted by Anonymous | May 21, 2010 9:02 AM

Excellent review!

Posted by Anonymous | May 21, 2010 10:08 AM

I completely agree with 9:39. Phantogram is MUCH better and more talented than Sleigh Bells, but people are sheep, and when you are on MIA's label, you get more attention.

Posted by Anonymous | May 21, 2010 10:21 AM

Check out a Bad to the Bone interview with Phantogram including live footage!

Posted by Roads & Trees Web Series | May 21, 2010 6:55 PM

The photos are awesome.

Posted by Sam | May 25, 2010 2:28 PM

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