Phantogram at GLC Live at 20 Monroe in Grand Rapids, MI

Phantogram wows fans with a high-intensity show of audio and visual overload full of hits with support from Lipstick Jodi.

Local Grand Rapids-based group Lipstick Jodi kicks off the evening with a great set of indie-pop songs. Comprised of multi-instrumentalists Karli Morehouse and Andy Fettig, and drummer Sungjin Jankowski, they play a 45-minute set that includes many songs from their album More Like Me. This includes songs like “Why Try,” “Don’t Wanna Know,” “Take Me Seriously,” and “Go Insane.” New song “Now” has a cool bass line and also features Andy on the keys. Many times throughout the set, Karli has some great interaction with the fans, getting them to clap overhead and raise their drinks in the air. Before playing “Exist,” Karli asks, “Are there any OGs in the house?” to which many cheer. It is a guitar-driven song that has Karli doing some head-banging. Winding down their set, they play “Do/SAY” which has both Andy and Karli jamming at the end. Recent single “Comes In Waves” closes out their set with Karli exclaiming “Dance with me!” It is one of the most upbeat songs and has the crowd moving and warmed up for the headliner. The crowd shows their appreciation with a great round of applause.

It has been four long years since headliner Phantogram last played in Michigan and the crowd is anxious for them to take the stage. As the lights dim, the crowd erupts with cheers. Lead singer Sarah Barthel has her hair dyed orange and guitarist/vocalist Josh Carter is wearing a black cap with a “P.” They open with “You’re Mine” and follow that with the hit “Black Out Days.” Sarah is a major focal point as she dances, spins, and thrashes her hair. It makes for some cool imagery early on as the stage is dimly lit with mostly backlighting, deep reds, and some bursts of flashing lights or strobes.  This is very apparent during “Run Run Blood” where the lighting mainly leads to seeing silhouettes of Sarah as she dances across the stage.

“Don’t Move” is heavy on the bass and gets loud cheers with the crowd clapping and dancing, while Sarah sends her vocals soaring. Before “Pedestal,” Sarah mentions they have never played here before, but are so happy to be here. “Same Old Blues” keeps the hits coming and has Josh doing some jamming on the guitar. Sarah lets the crowd know, “You guys are beautiful!” Many times throughout their set, she shows their appreciation for the fans being here tonight. The next song, “I’m Still Yours,” is a special treat tonight as it is the first time they have played it live. It is a cool song that has a catchy, quick guitar riff and it gets a great response from the audience.  Following “Bad Dreams” and “Mouthful of Diamonds,” they play one of their biggest hits, “Fall In Love,” which has the crowd singing along, dancing, and waving.

Sarah introduces guitarist Josh as her best friend and they have known each other since pre-school. She also introduces her best friend from college, Chris Carhart on drums, and the newest addition to the band Jonathon Mooney on keyboards/synthesizers. Those two provide the great beats and the pulsating electronic groove that propels many of the songs. While their music has elements of alternative, rock, and pop, it tends to be more trippy and intense, driven by the synthesizers, programming, Josh’s riffs, and Sarah’s airy vocals. “Howling at the Moon” is another big hit and highlight of the evening that has the crowd going wild with clapping, dancing, and singing. They wrap up the main portion of their set with “Mister Impossible” and the big radio hit “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore.” The latter has Sarah dancing about with the mic stand in hand. 

Returning to the stage, Sarah says, “Thank you so much,” and gives a shout-out to the opener Lipstick Jodi.  Before playing “Answer,” she mentions that “this song reminds me of my sister who passed away from suicide six years ago,” and lets the crowd know “it’s ok to not be ok.” The crowd is almost completely silent during this emotional song. They close it out with “When I’m Small” which has Sarah reaching for the sky with her arms while her voice soars into the stratosphere. It is an awesome performance that leaves the fans wanting more. Hopefully, they will have more headline dates and more new music in the near future. In the meantime, be sure to catch them on tour opening for Queens of the Stone Age.

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About Gary Pahlow 62 Articles
Gary is located in Rochester Hills, MI and has been officially photographing and writing concert reviews since early 2016. His main music interests are metal and hard rock, but he is also a fan of most genres including alternative, indie, jazz, and even some pop and country. When not covering or attending concerts, you can find him traveling with his wife or watching the Detroit Red Wings.