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When I’m (not) Small: Phantogram stretches out at Fillmore Philadelphia

Phantogram | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Phantogram | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

It’s been a minute since I’ve seen Phantogram in their own element. Sure, they kill wherever they take the stage. But if that stage is at a festival like Firefly or Roots Picnic, or an industry gathering like SXSW, there’s an element of the audience being there for the hang moreso than the bands. And there’s an element of the band subsequently reeling their performance in for maximum impact. At Monday night’s Fillmore Philadelphia show, there was none of that — Phantogram was as loud and epic and arty as they wanted to be. Continue reading →

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Interview: Phantogram’s Josh Carter on making beats, trimming fat and spanning worlds

Phantogram | photo by Tony Saccenti | via facebook.com/Phantogram

At the 2015 edition of the Roots Picnic, Sarah Barthel of Phantogram told the crowd a story about her band’s first big single. She and longtime creative partner (and childhood friend) Josh Carter were both huge hip-hop fans growing up, and he initially devised the beat for “As Far As I Can See” not as a song of his own, but as a cut to shop around – he hoped it might get picked up by Jay Z, or somebody of that stature. It did not, but that worked out pretty well for Phantogram all the same.

Since the release of 2010’s Eyelid Moves, the New York band has evolved from a brooding duo with a knack for catchy, spectral soundscapes to a hard-hitting electronic rock juggernaut. This fall brings their latest record, Three, which finds Barthel and Carter diving head on into the dark overtones that have always permeated their work, motivated in part by the death of Barthel’s sister, Becky. In a recent interview with Complex Magazine, Barthel summed up a theme of the album as “owning the darkness” – accepting and embracing all elements of yourself, angels and devils alike.

The album features some of the band’s most atmospheric work to date, but also some of its poppiest, like the massive gothic single “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore.” And hip-hop is still a part of their lives, from Carter’s production work for Stones Throw artist Oh No and ATL hero Big Boi (the latter of whom collabed with the band last year on the Big Grams project) to getting namechecked and rapped over by artists from Vince Staples to Nas and Philly’s S.T.S.

With a headlining tour rolling into The Fillmore on Monday, I caught up with Carter over the phone to talk about the band’s origins, its growth in scope and its ability to fit in just about anywhere. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Phantogram at The Fillmore on 10/24

Phantogram | photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com
Phantogram | photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com

Add Phantogram to the already stacked list of killer shows coming to The Fillmore this fall. Band of Horses, Glass Animals,The Head and The Heart, and Sturgill Simpson have already been booked, and now the electronic duo is set to make its return to Philly as well. Phantogram’s date is set for Monday October 24th. Continue reading →

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Love of My Life: The 8th Annual Roots Picnic celebrates a generation of innovative music

The Roots | Photo by John Vettese
The Roots | Photo by John Vettese

Every year, the Roots Picnic inches closer to Philly musical utopia. The pre-summer day fest is curated by local hip-hop heroes The Roots, the self-proclaimed hardest working band in America. True to their own innovative and barrier-breaking approach, the lineup is always a unique, eclectic and interesting trip. The setting and its vibe has historically been a bit rockier, beset by exponentially swelling crowds and typically sweltering heat beating down on the minimally shaded asphalt of Festival Pier.

But the eighth annual installment of the Picnic yesterday, while not perfect, was a tremendously positive event, with major improvements in the layout and organization of the festival and a trimming of the musical fat (for the most part). Continue reading →

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The Key’s Top 15 Albums of 2014

top 15 albums of 2014
This is the music that moved us this year.

Here at The Key, we’ve gone through four year-end best-of seasons since launching in August of 2010 without weighing in on top albums. Why did we change that this year? Simply put: music in 2014 was outstanding. On the local front, on the national front, from pop to rock to experimental and hip-hop, there was a tremendous offering of front-to-back solid records. Annie Clark got mind-bendy on St. Vincent; Tim Showalter got emotional on HEAL; Sylvan Esso caught us by surprise on their self-titled debut; Cayetana blew up in a big way on their debut Nervous Like Me, voted the best record of the year by our staff of contributors. To narrow it down to the top 15 albums of 2014 is to exclude hundreds of other worthy inclusion, so you can read our contributors’ individual top fives here. Then again, there is power in consensus, and these are the albums we collectively agreed were the best. Continue reading →

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Phantogram dazzles a sold-out Union Transfer crowd

Phantogram | photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com
Phantogram | photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com

New York based electronica duo Phantogram rocked Union Transfer this weekend with an electrifying performance. On Sunday, the band played the second of two back-to-back sold-out shows in support of their second full-length album, Voices, which was released in February. Josh Carter (vocals, guitar, and electronic beats) and Sarah Barthel (vocals, keyboard, and guitar) were backed by a three-piece band, which allowed them to give a spectacular, full-sounding performance. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: mewithoutYou at the Trocadero, Black Milk at Johnny Brenda’s, Phantogram at Union Transfer, and more!

mewithoutYou | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordo.tumblr.com
mewithoutYou | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordo.tumblr.com

Upper Darby-based rock group mewithoutYou brings its Catch For Us the Foxes 10-year anniversary tour to The Trocadero tonight. Their second full-length album came out in October of 2004 and cathartically explored the tension between heartache, faith and the complex emotions of youth. The record contained fan faves like “In a Sweater Poorly Knit” and “January 1979”, the latter of which won mtvU’s “Left Field Award for Most Original Artist,” and the album peaked at number 20 on Billboard’s “Top Heatseekers.” Joining mwY tonight are Lawrence, Kansas post-rock group The Appleseed Cast and Philadelphia art-punk favorites Hop Along. Tickets and information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Watch Phantogram perform “Fall in Love” at the Public Radio Rocks SXSW showcase, listen to the full set

Yesterday Phantogram performed at the Public Radio Rocks showcase at SXSW, playing songs from their latest LP Voices including “Fall in Love.”  Check out a video of the performance below and listen back to the full set here.

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SXSW Dispatch: Public Radio Rocks showcase with Damon Albarn, Lucius, Temples and more

Damon Albarn | Photo by Laura Fedele | WFUV.org
Damon Albarn | Photo by Laura Fedele | WFUV.org

Wow, what a whirlwind of an afternoon! We just wrapped up with the Public Radio Rocks SXSW showcase starring Damon Albarn, Lucius, The Hold Steady, Phantogram, Jeremy Messersmith and Temples – curated in collaboration with WFUV in New York, KUTX in Austin, KXT in Dallas, The Current in Minneapolis and WXPN in Philly. Over the next several days, we’ll bring you video and full-set audio recaps of each artist’s set. For now, peruse the gallery below for an overview of the show.