From a hiss to a boom: Phantogram and Snakes Say Hiss play Skidmore

Posted by Kara Clark

The Student Entertainment Committee's concert on Nov. 6, featuring Snakes Say Hisss and Phantogram, proved that Skidmore and Saratoga Springs have acquired some bragging rights. Despite difficulties with the sound system, both bands enthralled the audience and made their musical presence known.

Snakes Say Hisss opened the show, equipped with the obvious, but appropriate green drum set and green guitar. The instruments that appeared on stage were only half of the act. Extra synth and bass were played through speakers from the band's iPod, a feature that slowed down the set's overall flow and increased time between songs.

Lead singer Jamie Ayers, clearly intoxicated, writhed about the stage, frequently collapsing to the ground to do some more slithering. Ayers even attempted a stage dive, which, although successful, could have been omitted for everyone's safety and overall peace of mind. But in spite of any sloppiness, the electronic rock trio provided an aggressive, energetic set, captivating the crowd with venomous songs like "Talk." Ayers spat, "I'm a lesbian savant and I'm the only guy I know who'll give you what you want."

Or at least, that's what it sounded like he was saying. Problems with the sound system began during the middle of Snakes Say Hisss's set. Sound levels were constantly unbalanced, and at some points during the show Ayers couldn't even be heard. The singer continued to slur some sort of apology into the mic, which was followed by a pregnant silence, during which technicians were probably scurrying to resolve the problem. Thankfully, the majority of the sound issues were resolved before Phantogram's set began.

Like Snakes Say Hiss, Phantogram's music has electronic elements, but the second band also uses hip-hop style drumbeats, ambient noises and ample sampling. While on stage, keyboardist Sarah Barthel was constantly in motion, her left foot stomping in unison with the kick drum. Josh Carter swayed back and forth, plucking out complex melodies on his guitar to match Barthel's synthesized drones. Both halves of Phantogram attacked their instruments with precision and vigor.

Unlike the band that preceded them, Phantogram provided a more diverse set of songs. Audience members either danced frantically or simply swayed in time. The beat of "Futuristic Casket" and the baseline of "Bloody Palms" inspired movement, while "Mouthful of Diamonds" demanded contemplation of it's thoughtful lyrics.

The concert attracted an audience diverse in age. In addition to students and locals, a handful of senior citizens could be spotted at the show. While this was a little off-putting at first to the average Skidmore student, it's pretty impressive that they were there at all.

While both groups were enjoyable to watch, Phantogram stole the show. Coincidentally, the band is on the verge of significant popularity; Music magazines such as "Spin" have begun recognized the band's obvious talent.

This isn't to say that Snakes Say Hiss was terrible – but it as more likely that those who attended the concert will remember its headliner, rather than its opener. Phantogram deserves all the recognition they can get.

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