Phantogram delivers charged finale to Palace Theatre’s opening weekend

The electronic “dream pop” band captivated at their sold-out Sunday show.

Phantogram performs at First Avenue's Mainroom on April 13, 2014.

Daily File Photo

Phantogram performs at First Avenue’s Mainroom on April 13, 2014.

Katie Lauer

St. Paul’s Palace Theatre reopened last weekend, and if spring break disrupted newsfeeds just know the revamped 101-year-old venue deserves all the hype it’s received.

Ending the packed three night opening-weekend, Phantogram was the first band not from Minnesota to headline the stage. And they set the bar high.

With a combination of synth-heavy instruments, dramatic visuals and soaring vocals, the New Yorkers demonstrated why they warranted a packed house.

As soon as the lights dimmed, strobes began flashing, and the pounding, demanding bass of “You’re Mine” started.

One thing was made clear: the crowd was theirs for the night.

The duo of singer Sarah Barthel and guitarist Josh Carter, accompanied by two band members providing live drums and samples from the double-decker stage, looked as if they were enjoying themselves as much as the crowd was.

Moving into “Same Old Blues,” Barthel really shined. Alongside the song’s gospel organ, she seemed to vocally confess. “I keep on having this dream where I’m stuck in a hole, and I can’t get out,” she said to the heaven-high rows in the balcony.

Transitioning from their latest material in “Three,” the band revisited their 2011 EP, “Nightlife.” Every head in the place bobbed to the model of electronic pop, “Don’t Move.”

Though the 2,800-person venue was sold out, there was a comfortable coziness to the audience, much like First Avenue’s vibe. The capacity wasn’t fully noticeable until Carter asked the crowd to light up the theater with their phones halfway through the set.

“You can’t use lighters anymore,” he joked. “It’s not the ’60s or ’70s … or ’80s … or ’90s.”

A few songs later, the band performed “Calling All” — having played it live only once before. No one would’ve guessed this, as they continued to dance and play with heighted passion, ease and fun.

Fading out from 2010’s “When I’m Small,” the almost blinding lights and belting transitioned to ballads.

Song after song flowed on stage, and no time seemed to pass before 14 tracks had finished and “Barking Dog” began the encore.

After some home video tapes were projected, a moment accompanied by the hypnotic “Cruel World,” was dedicated to suicide awareness. The show ended with the highly anticipated “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore.” A favorite spun on The Current, there were seemingly few not singing along.

After the heavy, sonic tune rounded out the night’s high-energy performance, it’s unlikely anyone left the theatre unsatisfied.