Five thoughts: Phantogram at Brooklyn Bowl (September 29)

Phantogram, performing September 29 at Brooklyn Bowl.
Photo: Erik Kabik
Jason Harris

1. Is this Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas? Or have I somehow ended up in a Lena Dunham fever dream? The venue is packed as New York dream-pop unit Phantogram takes the stage behind a black, somewhat transparent screen. The first four songs, which include the super danceable “Black Out Days,” find different images projecting onto the cloth as the lights shine on different members of the band behind the screen, making this as much art installation as indie-rock show.

2. The most effective utilization of this piece of performance art takes place during “Turning Into Stone,” which features the group engulfed in moving stars as if shifting through time and space. When the breakdown hits toward the end of the song, the stars reverse direction as sight and sound are united. What the feature film Interstellar failed to create emotionally, Phantogram manages in about five minutes.

3. This is the first date on the band’s latest tour, in support of new album Three, scheduled to be released October 7. Phantogram couldn’t have asked for a more involved, supportive audience, with the crowd into both the old and new music (eight songs off the forthcoming record were played). Impressive showing, Vegas.

4. Phantogram is a duo when recording, the ultra-impressive Sarah Barthel, plus Josh Carter, who always seems to maximize his output. But kudos also to touring synth man Nicholas Shelestak, now a Vegas resident and bartender at Oddfellows. Buy him a drink next time you see him.

5. Barthel, whose voice is addictive, breathes fresh life into Phantogram’s catalog. It’s evident on new track “Same Old Blues”, features a beautiful reprise, and on encore closer “Futuristic Casket,” an older song that goes wild when played in concert.

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