Stubb’s Bar-B-Q, September 14
by Holly Cowart
Photograph by Charles Reagan
Phantogram is a band best experienced live. Made up of Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel, the techno-pop duo’s sound is brought to life by their infectious energetic deliveries. Donning many hats, Barthel takes lead on keyboard and Carter on guitar, while each share the responsibility of singing, composing and producing. Their dance-worthy hooks often come with a gritty edge, sometimes blurring the lines between pop, rock and hip-hop. Calmer moments of stillness are caught between synthy, beat-heavy outpours softened by Barthel’s dreamlike vocals. Whether a solo show or festival stage, it’s easy to get swept up.
The bandmates’ palpable synchronistic energy onstage derives from a long-standing friendship and natural chemistry. Having become close years prior in high school, the artists reconnected after finding themselves once again living at home in Saratoga Springs, New York. Carter had just left the band he shared with his brother and was actively composing music when he discovered that Barthel possessed an incredible voice and piano skills. A collaboration was inevitable, with the two officially joining forces in 2007.
Phantogram recently released the single “Into Happiness,” three years after the release of their heavier third album, Three, which was informed by a difficult period of loss and grief. Carter and Barthel’s new song echoes a message of hope, reflective of the journey each member has taken to arrive at this point. Plan to be joyfully mesmerized as their music surrounds the Stubb’s amphitheater on September 14.