Phantom Tails @ The Triple RockAug 23, 2014
The rockist in me wanted to hate this show. Yeah, every band had a guitarist, but where were the drummers? Where was the traditional power trio or 4 piece? How could this be a rock show without what we typically think of as a rock band? And yet, during Phantom Tails’ album release show, they continued to be one of the rocking-est bands in the twin cities, even without someone behind the kit.
There’s nothing like a weird band to start a weird show, and Bollywood did not disappoint. To call their music “art rock” would be far too vague and far too simplistic. Their music combined live guitar and bass with lots of odd backing tracks to create psychedelic soundscapes, a wash of noise that was subtle enough to act as background music, yet just weird enough to capture your attention. They paired their music with politically-charged imagery from a projector on-stage to create something that, while maybe not the most danceable music of the night, certainly made you sit up and take notice.
Next to the stage was Umami, who’s laid-back vibes helped the audience put on their dancing shoes for the main attraction, Phantom Tails. The questionable-looking group brought their rag-tag aesthetic to a surprisingly relaxed performance. Lots of down-tempo, synth-heavy tunes helped the audience tune in to their energetic performance. Credit to not only the band, but the organizers as well, for realizing that Umami’s chillwave sound would perfectly bridge the gap between the weirdly experimental Bollywood and the dancey blasts of Phantom Tails.
“Electro Funk” seems about right to describe local band Phantom Tails, but then you get to the problem of “well, it’s like Prince, but also nothing like Prince.” Having seen the band in action, it seems like Punk music is their key distinction. Truth be told, Phantom Tails are already one of this reviewer’s favorite local acts. For one, they can hardly be called upstarts. They’ve been playing their brand of self-proclaimed “deep space doom funk” for the better part of this decade. Plenty of bands in this era have sought to combine rock music with electronic elements, but few do it with sense of momentum, of tension, of chaos, as Phantom Tails. The hooks may get stuck in your head, but from the moment the band steps on stage, you’re in for a show that’s as much about noisy, punkish energy as it is about dancing your tail off. Their show at the Triple Rock may have started late and suffered from some early mixing issues, but once they got into the swing of things, the band showed their experience by blasting through a high-energy set of poppy, off-kilter earworms, blasts of noisy electro-punk, and plenty of music from their new double LP, Rides Battalion. Sometimes the attraction of local music is “well, it sounds like band X, but you know, they’re local,” but Phantom Tails prove time and time again that a unique sound and an energetic live show will win just as many fans.