Phantogram played the 9:30 Club Oct. 25 with a lot of energy, a great stage show and a solid atmosphere.

Beginning uniquely, Phantogram played the first four songs behind a black mesh screen with lights and visuals flashing in front of them. It created a scene where, at times, it was just the crowd, the music and the flashing lights in front of us. Not seeing the band was a bold choice that ultimately paid off as it allowed the duo’s music to capture the room.

The night began with tracks spanning Phantogram’s entire discography, all performed behind the mesh screen. With lights in the forefront, Phantogram brought out the electric guitar riffs, electro piano chords and quicker tempo on songs like “Black Out Days” and “Turning Into Stone.”

By the fifth song, the mesh screen dropped, exposing the band. The crowd’s energy came alive. Band members Sarah Barthal and Josh Carter took their own corners of the stage, and the two of them engaged with the crowd — and each other — the entire night.

The pace picked up with “Same Old Blues” and “You’re Mine,” both tracks off the duo’s newest record, Three. Barthal and Carter sang back and forth with occasional harmonies. For the first time all night, the lights were colorful and the stage became vibrant and alive.

“They bring a lot of energy and fun,” said Tom Lee, 44 of Herndon, Virginia. “They look like they’re genuinely enjoying themselves up there.”

They slowed the night down with “Answer,” a good step back from the quick pace and frantic lights. However, the energy spiked again when older hits “Mouthful of Diamonds and “Futuristic Casket” followed, finally allowing the crowd to sing along.

The latter half of the concert was filled with heavy drums that rocked the whole club, a scintillating light show and powerful guitar riffs ensued. The female vocals were the most noteworthy part of the night, Barthal’s voice resonating throughout the venue.

For me, the highlight of the night was easily “When I’m Small,” the last song played before the encore. My notes read: “When I’m Small: killed it.” That was it, nothing more.

Arguably their most recognizable song, the entire venue lit up as soon as that famous first guitar riff came in. Those chords played out powerfully as Barthal’s vocals accompanied them to create what was possibly a better version than the recorded studio one. Everything was clearer, louder and more passionate.

The mesh screen was revived for the encore, but played fuzzy home videos. The band performed, “Barking Dog,” a tribute a deceased family member. This created a much slower and more mellow moment that was made powerful by Carter’s vocals.

“Cruel World,” another slow song, transitioned into the final song of the night, “Fall in Love.” Another crowd favorite, this track brought the crowd back alive, creating a positive atmosphere to finish the night.

Overall, the most impressive part of Tuesday night’s performance was the vocals and sound the duo gave off. Barthal made the stage, and the night, her own, encapsulating the room with so much enthusiasm and liveliness, to compliment her powerful vocals.

The varying setlist added to the band’s performance. With the constant changing between mellow and energetic songs, the audience witnessed different aspects of the show and the band’s sound, giving them a more complete experience.

“I liked the balance of the different albums. It was a nice balance of their new and old stuff,” said Rebecca Bowman, 26, Seattle, WA.

Phantogram’s unique sound held up really well live. It wasn’t compromised for a live concert, leaving room for tons of emotion and energy.

Featured Photo Credit: Phantogram performing for a sold-out and highly-devoted 9:30 Club. (Joe Duffy/Bloc Photographer)

Vidal Serfaty is a junior broadcast journalism major and can be reached at

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