Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lia Ices, Phantogram, and Human Disco Balls

Lia Ices, a dream-pop goddess,  took the Haw River stage as the opener for Phantogram.  Ices performed several of the tracks from her most recent album, Ices, which was released through Jagjaguwar.

Ices has a natural and engaging stage presence; her tone is mesmerizing with an impressive range.  The songs from Ices provide a span of sounds with middle eastern rhythms and trip-hop atmospherics.  Her live performance and catchy tunes create happy vibes and an upbeat mood.

The self-proclaimed "street beat/psych pop" duo, Phantogram, brought a high-energy and a visually-pleasing performance to the Haw River stage.  Phantogram, named after a type of optical illusion, consists of upstate New Yorkers, Sarah Barthel (vocals/synth) and Josh Carter (vocals/guitar).  The pair have a natural and contagious chemistry on stage that transfers to the audience.

Endless time and forethought have obviously been put into the duo's live performance.  The songs from their latest album, Voices, have been reworked to translate more effectively in the live setting; tempos have been changed, songs restructured, and Barthel intensifies her strong voice to sync cohesively with the synth-pop rhythms.

Aside from entrancing vocals, the band doesn't take the term "performance" lightly.  They increase the impact of their danceable beats with multi-colored lights and flashing strobes.  At one point, Barthel dons a sequined robe that reflects the light, transforming her into a human disco ball.

This type of music genre brought a different vibe to the scenic Haw River Ballroom, but it seemed to be well-received with a high-energy crowd and sold-out show.  Phantogram knows how to perform and please their audience with audio and visual surprises.  Seeing them live transforms their already energetic music, turning audience members into long-term fans. 

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