100 Shows of 2010 - #84: The Phantom Band @ 9:30 Club, 11/1/10
Of all the shows I've been totally excited about this year, there's one show that stands alone thus far as my most highly-anticipated show of the year. That, friends, would be those deliriously delightful Scots of The Phantom Band, otherwise known as the apples of mine eye. Ever since yours truly first heard the siren song of their record Checkmate Savage, I was in smit with their rugged, weird, glorious noise. So it was only natural for me to want to see the fantasticalness of those songs in the flesh. I probably would have been crushed beyond salvaging if the boys had been anything other than as wonderful as I had hoped. Thankfully, they were amazing.
MINI RECAP: The Phantom Band = Ya Dancer! Overall Score: A
They might have been the first band of the night, ladies and gentlemen, but as good as both Plants & Animals and Frightened Rabbit were, and they were very very good, this show was all about The Phantom Band, at least as far as I'm concerned. Their set was superb from the very beginning, putting forth as they did an astonishing rendition of "Throwing Bones" that sounded inescapably loud and haunting and just plain wonderful. Truth be told, I was there for the Checkmate Savage stuff, but it was rather interesting to get an earful of the offerings from sophomore record The Wants (don't worry, I'm sure I'll foam at the mouth about it soon). The new songs were rather a departure from the older, and took the band out of the glens and into the dancehalls. The darkness of their overall sound with some quite danceable beats made for one hell of a juxtaposition.
One of the stratospheric highs of the set came when the band launched into "Folk Song Oblivion", my second favorite of all Phantom Band songs. The sound, which ambles and rambles anyway, seemed even bigger yet even more stark than on record. Your guess is as good as mine, friends. However possible, it was magic. They have a way, much like British Sea Power to whom I think they are distantly related, sonically-speaking, of incorporating, intentionally or not, the natural landscapes of their motherland into their music. They can be terrifying, enthralling, and beautiful, and oftentimes all at once. My one complaint, albeit a minor one, was the omission of my absolute favorite song "Halfhound" from the set. Next time, please, lads.
I'm just gonna go ahead and state definitively that The Phantom Band is one of the best live bands around. They are louder, they are much more interesting, and they are inherently more charming than about 95% of bands out there. So do yourself a favor and embrace the brogue. You'll be ever so pleased you did.
mp3: Walls (The Phantom Band from The Wants)
mp3: Folk Song Oblivion (The Phantom Band from Checkmate Savage)
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