Who doesn’t love a new concert venue?
The sold-out crowd at the Palace Theatre sure did last night. The crummy weather didn’t dampen everyone’s enthusiasm for a night of strobe lights and high-strung, theatrical rock and roll.
North Carolina’s the Veldt were well received by the crowd streaming in from the late winter storm. Their brand of shoegaze meshed with the weather and the general mood of the room.
Climbing on the stage to heavenly lighting and synths, the drummer, bassist, and two guitarists slotted right into their pockets and did what it is that they do. Singer Daniel Veldt has a huge, emotional voice that became a presence at the Palace, perfectly setting the table for Phantogram’s feast for the senses.
The dramatic opening, the smoke, the strobes and other lighting effects made it clear from the outset that Phantogram wasn’t going to bore anyone. Rocking a double-decker stage, it would be hard to be anything but exciting.
Opening with two rocked up tracks last year’s Three, Josh Carter, Sarah Barthel, and band had the crowd and didn’t lose us all night. “You’re Mine” punched right for the brain as it built to full-tilt mayhem, and the dancefloor beats of “Same Old Blues” shook the poison-blue stage and got hands in the air.
Barthel looked every bit the untouchable rock monster in her leather jacket and black mesh halter top, and Carter rocked a t-shirt of beloved British band Ride.
Phantogram is not a chatty bunch. For the first part of the show, besides the obligatory “Hello Twin Cities, hello St. Paul,” it was all business, and often that business became a blunt object. Sometimes in rock and roll you have to ditch the subtlety, and the capacity crowd certainly didn’t mind.
The band tore through noisy versions of tracks from Three, Voices, and their EP Nightlife with reckless abandon. Not till mid-show could the audience come up for air. Balance between bombast and suppleness was achieved on Eyelid Movies’ “Mouthful of Diamonds.”
For Three’s ballad, “Answer,” Josh said, “Put your cell phones up for this. No lighters. This isn’t the ‘70s, ‘80s, or even the ‘90s.”
“Destroyer,” from the same album, had Barthel on the upper deck amid the smoke while the other members of the band breathed out the spare verses and howled the chorus. It was back into the trenches for the rest of the night, but the band seemed to keep the glorious balance it found mid-show.
Three’s “Calling All,” a celebratory crowd pleaser that put the show on the landing approach, was dolled up in an ‘80s sheen a bit reminiscent of Oingo Boingo. Carter and Barthel both spent time upstairs with the band in these final tracks and gave the audience plenty of “clap with us” moments.
“This town is our favorite fucking place to play. Please come see us as we will be signing albums and other shit. We’ve got more music,” Barthel informed the faithful.
The main set ended with “When I’m Small” off Eyelid Movies. Slippery as hell, bobbing and weaving like Muhammad Ali in his prime, the track snapped like a rubber band to the wrist.
The encore opened with Carter playing lead cigarette and singing “Barking Dog,” which he described as a song about suicide awareness. The stage was bathed in beautiful imagery of classic VHS family movies throughout.
“Talk to people. You are loved. We love you,” Carter said afterwards.
The encore continued, perhaps oddly, with the death imagery of “Cruel World.” The piano was beautiful, sounding not a little like Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home.”
Obviously, we were not going to get out of the Palace without Three’s “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore,” before which Carter sounded the battle cry “Let’s turn this motherfucker out!”
They did. We did.
The Crowd: Sunday nighters who would normally be at First Avenue or home watching The Walking Dead.
Overheard in the Crowd: Referring to one of he Veldt’s guitarists: “Dude looks like he is in the Night’s Watch.”
Random Notebook Dump: The Palace was aesthetically largely left “as is”, the sound is amazing, and the capacity is going to be a real asset to our scene. Really, it’s a great venue.
Same Old Blues
Turning into Stone
Black Out Days
Run Run Blood
Mouthful of Diamonds
Howling at the Moon
Fall in Love
When I’m Small
Get Me High Anymore