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Caribou, Phantogram & The Chain Gang of 1974 played the Beach on Governors Island (pics)

“The best band from last night were the Chain Gang of 1974. Caribou the headline act were boring and I missed most of Phantogram. Fun anyways” – Hayley Hughes

“yick, chain gang of 1974 definitely won’t win any awards for theie lyrical prowess. better luck next time y’all.” – Taylor Self

“Chain Gang of 1974 are fun. Thought they were doin LCD Soundsystem’s ‘Us v Them’ but no. Bass driven, dancey. May check em out at bkbowl too” – Ryan Muir

“Caribou BROUGHT IT at Governors Island last night. Dancin shoes worn out. Hopefully I can drag myself to Siren Fest…” – Chris Macowski

photos by Andrew St. Clair, words by Rachel Kowal

DOWNLOAD: Phantrogram – Mouthful of Diamonds (Michna remix) (MP3)

Caribou @ Governors Island Friday night
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When the members of The Chain Gang of 1974 kicked off the evening’s show at 8:00, the area in front of the stage was only sparsely populated, but people continued to filter in from the ferry as the sky dimmed. From the first notes of the thumping bass line, and the repetitive chorus of their opening song (“Stop!”), I admit I was pretty skeptical of the Denver artist and his backing band.

“Wake up! Come on! Wake up!” shouted front-man Kamtin Mohager as the beats from “Stop!” were winding down. He tossed his yellow guitar pick into the crowd, broke out a tambourine (and his best falsetto), and enthusiastically launched into the next song. From there, things only got more ridiculous. Throughout the course of their short set, Mohager hurled everything from water bottles to CDs and even a pair of bright red Converse high tops into the crowd, striking anyone unfortunate enough to be in the way.

Later, as Mohager shouted the line, “Just bob your fucking head,” the crowd stared on in disbelief (and mild amusement). The Chain Gang of 1974’s set was entertaining – but perhaps not in the way Mohager intended. The over-the-top delivery, unpredictable projectiles whizzing through the air, and lyrics about getting high all made for quite a show – even if it was only accidentally entertaining at best.

Phantogram
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Next up was the impossibly hip duo, Phantogram, from upstate New York. Immediately, the mood shifted. There’s nothing accidentally hip about keyboardist/vocalist Sarah Barthel, right down to her perfectly angled haircut, chic black clothing, and deeply intoxicating voice. Behind the duo, a series of swirling, indistinct images (with the occasional urban or pastoral landscape) were projected onto the wall to accompany their soulful electro beats, which served as a nice segue to Caribou’s trippy (but upbeat) psychedelic fair. From the pulsating beats and sexy vocals of “When I’m Small” to the moodier strains of “You Are the Ocean” (which guitarist Joshua Carter sings), Phantogram’s songs are captivating regardless of the tempo.

Caribou also made use of the projector for their show, favoring concentric circles (like their recent album art) and other brightly colored geometric arrangements, but far from sticking to black, each of the four members donned a lightly colored shirt. Knowing they’d have plenty of time for things to escalate, Caribou kicked off their set with the slowly building “Leave House” from their spring release, Swim.

“Everybody, we’re Caribou. How are you doing? Thanks for coming to see us,” said front man Dan Snaith by way of introduction. Though the stage at Governors Island is a decent size, Snaith and his band occupied only about 20% of it. Instead of leisurely spreading out, they had elected to sit closely huddled in the middle, with a ring of monitors and amps surrounding them. From this intimate set-up, they looked at one another for subtle timing cues as many of their songs are elongated in a live setting to allow for trance-inducing instrumental interludes. Far from hogging the spotlight, the pleasantly unassuming front man spent more time facing drummer Brad Weber than the audience. At times, Snaith would join Weber on the drums in what seemed like perfect synchronicity, as if they two were riding the same trance. Meanwhile, the crowd at the beachfront danced around, appreciatively, in a way that was appropriately both subdued and carefree, depending on the song.

“Jamelia,” the final track on Swim, was particularly intoxicating with its smooth vocals, chill beat, and hypnotic synth line. But just when the audience was starting to fall into a coma brought on by the song, Caribou followed up with the more upbeat (and truly expansive) “Sun,” which sent ripples of life into the crowd that coincided with the song’s periodic swells.

But with each passing minute, more people vacated the area and lined up at the gate – no doubt to land a spot on one of first ferries back to Manhattan. By this point in the summer, the long lines – one of the major drawbacks of the Governors Island shows – are no secret. When Caribou came back on stage for their encore, even more people filed out, leaving only the most dedicated (and blissfully unaware) fans to dance in the pit ’til the end of the show.

More pictures and a few videos from the show, below…

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The next Converse-presented, free ‘Gone to Governors’ show on Governors Island isn’t until August 8th when Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band share a bill with Justin Townes Earle and Dawn Landes & the Hounds. Local Natives play a $10 show on The Beach on August 7th.

Caribou – Bowls, Live in NYC – Governor’s Island

Caribou – Found Out, Live in NYC – Governor’s Island

Caribou – Odessa, Live in NYC – Governor’s Is. 1 min PART

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