Phantom Planet @ The Granada

Phantom Planet | The Granada (Lawrence, KS) | November 1, 2003 |

Although it took the crowd a while to warm up to the band (perhaps it was weather related), the boys from California, who named themselves after a science fiction movie, put on a great 12-song set that left those in attendance in the college town of Lawrence, Kansas, wanting more.

Their set started off with lead singer Alex Greenwald, now sporting long hair — very distant from his clean-cut look from The Guest album — at the mic. The rest of the band, consisting of Jacques Brautbar (guitar), Sam Farrar (bass), Darren Robinson (guitar), and new addition drummer Jeff Conrad (who replaced Jason Schwartzman, best known for his role in the movie “Rushmore,” who quit the band earlier this year) came out one by one. They opened with “By The Bed,” a new song that could be featured on their upcoming album slated for a January 2004 release.

The boys of Phantom Planet have been together (with an exception of drummer Jeff Conrad) for a good ten years, which comes across in their live performance. They have fun on stage and play well off each other. They provided a very energetic set despite the crowd’s lack of participation. The crowd seemed a little subdued (again, maybe it was the weather), something also noted by the opening act Ben Lee. A fellow audience member also took notice and shouted at the crowd to jump around and act like they were having a good time, “It’s Phantom Planet!” he exclaimed. Alex Greenwald took the remarks in stride and encouraged the audience to participate but at the same time he added that he didn’t support peer pressure; he asked them to do what they wanted. (Later on the night, it was overheard that the crowd was one of the liveliest they had seen so far on this tour — interesting). The audience consisted of many young fans that were seeing Phantom Planet for the first time, so that could have resulted in their quiet demeanor. But it didn’t take long for them to start feeling the dynamic set.

New songs, such as “Badd Business,” “1st Things 1st,” “In The Meantime,” and their upcoming single “Big Brat” were included in the set, as well as old favorites off The Guest, like “Nobody’s Fault,” “Always On My Mind,” “In Our Darkest Hour,” “Turn Smile Shift Repeat”, “All Over Again,” and the theme song for FOX’s show The O.C. — “California.” The song, rarely performed live, “The Guest,” was also included although it was not on the album with the same title.

The band put on a great performance that was enjoyed by all, including members of the opening band, Ben Lee, who stormed out on stage and joined Phantom Planet providing backing chorus to “Big Brat.” To increase crowd involvement, Alex crowd surfed during “Nobody’s Fault,” which in retrospect was not a good idea. After the band got off stage and returned for an encore, Alex took to the mic once again and stated that someone in the audience had hit him in the balls and to excuse his voice if it came off being too high. Their final song, “All Over Again,” was filled with enthusiastic power. A portion involved an amazing drum solo by Jeff Conrad, which only solidified his rank within the band. He didn’t skip a beat. Although he looks out-of-place among the rest of the guys, he is worthy of being the man behind the drum set. During his drum solo, Sam and Alex accompanied hitting the side drums and cymbals like madmen. In a ditch effort to prove that he is crazy, lead singer Alex took to the air (so to speak). He climbed onto the speakers on the right side of the stage and sang into the crowd. That was not enough for him, oh no, he then got an ingenious idea. He decided to hang upside down a railing above the speakers. There he sang his heart (and brains) out to a roaring crowd that was eating up every little bit of it. It was great. He then climbed back down, finished the song, and left the stage bowing to the audience as the band continued playing. The rest of the guys then followed and lights dimmed. The crowd wanted more, but there was no more.

Like any good live band Phantom Planet left the crowd wanting more. Luckily there is a lot of touring in store for these guys, so if one show wasn’t enough, fans are certain to get what they want. Fortunately there is a live bootleg CD available to hold them over … until next time.

— Melissa Lozano