The following was written by Lina Khan with photographs by Alison Klein. If you have a show you’d like to see reviewed send an email to princeofpetworth(at)gmail
With a sound so distinctly urban, Phantogram‘s small-town origins come as a surprise. The self-described “street beat/psyche pop” duo has earned a reputation for hipness since the 2010 release of their debut album Eyelid Movies, recorded in a barn by their very rural Greenwich, New York hometown.
Back on tour with Nightlife EP, the band played to a full house at Black Cat Wednesday night. A smooth mix of electronic loops, synth beats, and hip hop evocations, Phantogram professes an eclectic range of influence – old soul, French pop, shoegaze – that fuses subtly on their recordings. Live, though, that range flattened, producing a sound highly energetic but rarely powerful.
Keyboardist Sarah Barthel’s cool, breathy croon briefly came through on “16 Years,” a catchy electro-pop track, but remained mostly overpowered by percussion. “Mouthful of Diamonds” brought out the band at its strongest: Barthel’s confident vocals, guitarist Josh Carter’s tender riffs, and a pulsating backdrop of synth beats that roll unremittingly. The casual synthesis was lent depth by the single line “I wish I could believe,” repeated with a simplicity that verges on hypnotic.
Continues after the jump.
It took till “Don’t Move,” with its bouncy stutter, for the audience to actually get moving (why does nobody dance at shows in DC?), the upbeat magnetism breaking to thumping rhythm that then resurges to full force. “All you do is/Shake shake shake,” Barthel sings, “Keep your body still/Keep your body still,” a delivery that undoes its own fulfillment.
Much of the set collapsed into a continuous semi-mesmerizing groove. A few moments showcased the moody edginess that hovers around some tracks – the paranoid and uneasy “Running from the Cops” – but the sultry syncopations mostly maintained a softer disinterest. Phantogram may evoke urban lure and pavement stagger, but there is little grit to be found. Their enigmatic allusions rarely rise above the innocuous – something a live performance can sometimes overcome, but of which the band fell short. There is little energy spent building and sustaining sound so that it takes you somewhere, a lack of intensity that isn’t in itself bad, it’s just that nonchalance only carries so far. No doubt, these sonic loops are magnetic, but unlikely to stay with you. You’ll enjoy grooving to them when you hear them, just might forget to look them up when you get home.
From an email: “Get beautiful holiday trees, wreaths, and more while supporting bilingual education at the Oyster-Adams Bilingual School annual Holiday Tree Sale!
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You are cordially invited to the Embassy of Austria for a thrilling evening with Mozart. What a better way to spend Christmas and Hannukah! Our full orchestra and lead singers, some of whom sing at the Met, will appeal to teens as they begin their journey to the classics! We expect to be sold out soon…..
Get your tickets now!
Under the Gracious Patronage of H.E. Petra Schneebauer, Ambassador of Austria
Julien Benichou, Conductor
Kevin Short as Figaro
Manna K. Jones as Susanna
Stephen Powell as Count Almaviva
Laquita Mitchell as Contessa
Anna Kelly as Cherubino
Maggie Polglaze as Barbarina
John Gibney as Bartolo
Leah Heater as Marcellina
Christopher Jon Hartung as Antonio & Don Curzio
Narration provided by Robin Phillips
Embassy of Austria
3524 International Court NW
Washington, DC 20008
Doors Open/Cocktails 6:30 pm
Performance including Intermission 7:15 pm
Wine Reception with Heavy Hors d’oeuvres 9:15 to 10:30 pm
Box Seats $250
Orchestra Reserved $150
Seniors (over 65 years old) Unreserved $80 [sold out]
Students with ID $50
Come solve a crime that took place in Takoma Park 130 years ago!
HouseMouse Books and Vintage is excited to announce the debut of Escape the Bookshop II, our new limited-run escape room experience. Escape the Bookshop II is a unique group puzzle game that is based on a real crime that took place in Takoma Park around 130 years ago. It is designed and created by HouseMouse to be played in our atmospheric little bookshop. This is not your typical corporate escape room and makes for a memorable evening out with friends or family!
Bookings are now open for game dates in January through April 2024. The game generally takes place Wednesday through Saturday at 8 PM but special arrangements can be made upon request. It is designed to be played by a group of 3 to 6 people (ages 16+) and lasts for one hour. No prior escape room experience is needed to enjoy the game.
Unlock the secret to menopause serenity at Ms. Moxie’s Moon Shop on Saturday, December 2nd, from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. This free event celebrates the exclusive launch of bebloom menopause gummies, a groundbreaking supplement designed for women and crafted