After a sold out show at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre — celebrating the release of their third album, cleverly titled Three — Phantogram returned to Victoria’s Sugar Nightclub for one of the most anticipated concerts of the season.
As the club slowly filled, bombastic sounds came from the stage where James Hinton (or, as he is better known, The Range) performed a high energy DJ set. Sampling a blend of hip hop, EDM, electronic, and contemporary rock, his set was compared by some to the likes of Banks and Steel or Big Grams. The Range’s style easily lends itself well to Phantogram’s style and a great way to get the audience pumped for the headlining act.
By the time Phantogram took the stage, there was a tangible electricity in the air from the beyond sold-out crowd in Sugar. Those who were able to grab a ticket to the show were keenly aware that this could be the last time they see Phantogram in a club setting like this. There are hopes that the band will return to play in a less intimate setting like a theatre, the arena, or a music festival like Rifflandia, but this might be the last time we see them like this.
With a slew of charting singles, late night talk show appearances, and some solid albums behind them, it’s clear that Phantogram has “made it.” As a music fan, you’re constantly rooting for the bands and musicians you love to be successful, but at the same time, you feel like you’re losing something special when they outgrow your local venues. Victoria cherish the experiences it’s had at the Phantogram concerts because it may not happen again in the the same way.
Phantogram put on one of the best concerts Victoria has seen this year, and we’ve seen a hell of a lot of good music this year. That said, it seemed like the highly visual band left their props, projections, and wardrobe on the two tour buses outside.
Having seen photos and videos from the lead up to the Victoria date, most of the concert photographers were anticipating some interesting things to take pictures of. Instead we were left with a barely lit stage and a band wearing all black. It seemed like the lighting scheme for the evening was reliant on the visual side of Phantogram stage show. It’s hard to imagine why they decided to ditch this stuff. Maybe Sugar’s stage was to small, or maybe it’s because they didn’t want to lug all that heavy stuff up the stairs. We know both Seattle and Vancouver got it at their shows, and it makes us sad pandas having missed out on this cool stuff.
Throughout the night you’d catch lead singer Sarah Barthel light up with a beaming smile when she caught an adoring audience singing along to their songs like Howling At The Moon, Fall in Love, and Black Out Days, on several occasions thanking them for their support, while her partner in crime Josh Carter stoically smiled along with Sarah’s comments. During their show, Josh gave her playful shoves and joked around with his fellow bandmates Nicholas Shelestak and Chris Carhart.
To cap off their set, Phantogram exploded into their massive single You Don’t Get Me High Anymore off their latest record, Three. A song best listened to cranked to 11 on your car stereo, it left the audience with a feeling of completion of the night, but still wanting more as the band waved good night and blew kisses to the crowd.
We hope to see Phantogram back in Victoria soon and — if not in a cool venue like Alix Goolden Hall — we think they’d be a good fit to headline Rifflandia’s main stage at Royal Athletic Park.
Our secret hope is that they bring their dog Leroy back, because he might be one of the coolest dogs on Instagram. He’s fucking adorable.