Reviews > Shows
Phantogram and Railbird at The Paradise
Photo by Doron Gild
On the first official day of Fall, though a decidedly balmy one, the Paradise Rock Club in Boston welcomed two bands that are anything but mild-mannered. Phantogram and Railbird, two beat-centric , as-pulsatingly-intense-as-indie-rock-is-gonna-get, synth/programming-driven groups, took to the stage in succession to a decent-sized crowd. The famed venue had recently undergone a facelift—one aspect was a shift of the stage to be better situated vis-à-vis several pillars in front of it—and the audience in the early going of the show was still feeling out the new space, as well as these relatively new acts.
Railbird, led by singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Sarah Pedinotti, started things off. Comprised of two guitarists, a bassist, two drummers, and Pedinotti in front controlling keyboards and the odd toy piano, Railbird—a few years ago a folk and blues-rock outfit—have re-imagined themselves as one of electronica and heavy guitars, keeping Pedinotti’s unique, far-ranging voice and lyrical phrasing. They opened their set with two, “Swamp Thing” and “Not Alone,” off their current EP and future full-length. The effortlessly-colorful, teased-out tunes render well-observed lyrics a bit unsettling yet unexpectedly affecting, sonically alternating between programming by Pedinotti and full-on playing by the band. They even cover a song by British experimental band Micachu and the Shapes to their indie credit.
Phantogram, the of-late much-talked about duo and, like Railbird, from Saratoga Springs, NY, synth-ed and strobe-lit their way through a nine-song set, which wasn’t without a couple of false starts towards the end. The trouble was technology-based, as they tried to navigate through their first show as a three-piece (a drummer was added to Sarah Barthel’s keys and vocals and Josh Carter’s guitar and vocals), as Carter explained towards the end of the show. To the music, the trio upped the intensity of the night a few notches with their piercing electronic-hip-hop-synth-core, at times reminiscent of the darkness of Ladytron, at times emitting anthemic rock with Barthel’s vocals bathed in beat and loops. Carter, who also hit some high vocal notes, assured the audience—who applauded generously after several songs—following the finale (“When I’m Small”) that “As soon as we’re back in Boston, we’re going to rock your [expletive] socks off,” by way of apology for the technical difficulties. All in all, a town of colored socks certainly was colorfully rocked on this evening.
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