Confession: I went into Phantogram’s April 19 show at Brooklyn Bowl with a sense of morbid curiosity, since I need to experience another indie synth-pop duo of rich New York kids with art-school backgrounds like I need a hole in my head. Well, the band’s powerful set is making me chew every word in the preceding sentence—and I’m still gauzing blood from my temples.
Singer-keyboardist Sarah Barthel and singer-guitarist Josh Carter sound absolutely cosmic and crushing with a live band backing them up. By mid-set Phantogram was phenomenal, slaying me and everyone else in the room, especially during the chirp-punctuated, percussive burbling of “Mouthful of Diamonds.” Lovely, platinum Barthel pleaded like Dido before the suicide pyre: “I wish I could believe the devils won’t take you back/Out to the salty sea.” With its jazzy, apocalyptic flourishes, “Answer” buried the studio version. Another highlight: “Destroyer,” in which a ruined lover pledges her obliteration. Phantogram flipped into party-fun mode with roof-raisin’, booty-shakin’ “Calling All” before Carter commanded the mic for the emotionally affecting “Barking Dog,” a hymn yearning for childhood’s lost innocence complete with home-video stage projections of children cavorting in suburban bliss.
After concluding with the dark “Cruel World” and a rocked-up “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore,” the band reconvened later at Downtown’s Commonwealth, where Barthel and Carter DJ’d hardcore gangsta rap side by side. It was the perfect digestif for one of the best indie-rock shows I’ve seen in years.