Weekends tend to attract a much bigger, older and better established crowd to Deep Ellum, and these descriptors were all true of the people crowding around the Bomb Factory stage for electronic/indie rock duo Phantogram on Saturday. Frankly, this bred an enjoyable sense of calm that has been uncharacteristic of the neighborhood in the past; this is a place where showgoers once attempted to mosh to "Night Channels" by Foxing, which is a song better suited to crying alone in bed.
But on Saturday, The Bomb Factory was relatively easy to navigate. The view above the stage was unobstructed, and those in the general admission area seemed comfortable, even during the unbearably long intermission between the opener's performance and Phantogram’s arrival on stage.
Speaking of, Dallas was afforded a unique look at a legitimately talented DJ and electronic artist in the form of opener The Range, which is the project of James Hinton. Hinton gained notoriety when it became known that he utilized vocal samples from other music artists who had posted their work on YouTube, essentially generating a unique collaboration that focused on the nuances of human interaction.
In a world filled with forgettable EDM artists like Dillon Francis, it’s good to know that there are still artists bringing new ideas to accessible electronic music. After Hinton made his exit, the audience was made to wait nearly an hour before the headliners took the stage. People passed the time eating aggressively over-priced barbecue sandwiches and drinking alcoholic beverages.
Right as the crowd's impatience became palpable, Phantogram made their grand entrance. Whatever resentment had been building was washed away in mere moments, as the impulse to scream seemed to overtake any other cohesive thoughts that were lingering in people's heads. The band led with a performance of the high-energy track “Funeral Pyre,” which was slightly odd given that the curtain was still hanging in front of them on stage. Geometric images danced on the makeshift screen, synchronized with the tempo of the first few songs. Then the curtain finally ascended, revealing a lively duo, fervently dancing around the stage.
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The energy the band gave to the performance kept it afloat. A performer unfamiliar with Phantogram's back catalog would have had difficulty grasping the songs, as their parts at times seemed to run over each other. This didn’t inhibit anyone’s desire to dance though, as those closer to the front did so without care. The energy didn’t slacken either, as the band powered through one solid pop track after another, including “Howling At The Moon,” “Mouthful Of Diamonds” and “Destroyer."
As is custom with high-profile artists, Phantogram opted to play coy with the audience, teasing an exit following the track “When I’m Small.” At this point, it would be surprising if anyone genuinely believed that a band performing at The Bomb Factory would depart without giving their obligatory encore. After all, they hadn’t even played their hit yet.
Almost like clockwork, the band returned to their respective posts on stage for a four-song encore. Naturally, the audience put on their best surprised faces as the refrains of their favorite songs rung out inside the venue. Phantogram met the home stretch with just as much fervor as the first 12 songs, pulling out all the stops for their real closing track, “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore,” a surprisingly deft and entertaining tune that has dodged the trap of being mere remix fodder for various other artists.
It was clear the band's adoring fans showed up specifically for the chance to shout these break-up lyrics at the top of their lungs. Throughout the cathartic experience, the entire audience wore smiles — smiles that remained even when the house lights came up and they were confronted with the stand-still traffic of Deep Ellum.