BEING THERE: Phantogram @ The Piazza


On Saturday, Chvrches and Phantogram rocked a gigantic sun-drenched Piazza crowd that included a tsunami-like wave of crowd surfers, a wedding party and two-time Olympic gold medal winning snowboarder Shaun White. The crowd surfers landed safely, the wedding party rocked out on one side of the stage and White was there to catch some good music and to see his his girlfriend, Phantogram singer Sarah Barthel. Those that couldn’t fit in the square took in the show from adjacent building roofs or apartment balconies. Scotland’s Chvrches took the stage first, kicking off their set of sweet-sounding-but-venomous 80’s-flavored synth-rock with a pulsating “We Sink.” The sun seemed to shine brighter after Chvrches arrived prompting lead singer Lauren Mayberry to crack wise that this was “the first time that the sun had come out for Scottish people.” Mayberry was a study in contrasts — button-cute, high-pitched singing voice, and rocking a leather jacket and convincingly singing the menacing “Gun” (“I have burned your bridges/I will be a gun/and it’s you I’ll come for.”) They closed with “The Mother We Share” which had the entire crowd waving their arms and singing along.  Phantogram played last, with Barthel taking the stage all dressed in black with a shirt that read KILL. And kill the band did, delivering a powerful hour of their skittering drum n’ bass-fueled guitar-rock. They kicked off with new song “Nothing But Trouble” from Voices, Phantogram’s excellent new album. The song featured femme fatale vocals from Barthel, beautifully chaotic samples crashing into each other and a sprawling acidic guitar solo from singer/guitarist Josh Carter. The band dipped into their back catalog for “Don’t Move” which featured a old school horn samples, thundering drums and ethereal vocals from Barthel. They ended their set with another old song “When I’m Small,” featuring 60’s spy movie-style jagged guitar and bass and Barthel’s seductive vocals. As the song drew near its close, Barthel climbed the barrier in front of the fans and leaned into the audience dispensing high fives, holding hands and letting them sing along. — PETE TROSHAK