Phantom Planet Give Girls Something To Scream About

Easy-on-eyes pop group manages to play songs in process.

NEW YORK — Formerly known as “the band with the guy
from ‘Rushmore,’ ” Phantom Planet packed Irving Plaza Friday night with
fervent young fans — mostly of the female persuasion.

Although “the guy from ‘Rushmore,’ ” drummer Jason Schwartzman, left to
pursue his acting career, the ladies still had something to scream
about. Lead singer/guitarist Alex Greenwald, a former Gap model clad in
torn, skintight jeans, was an instant heartthrob. It also didn’t hurt
that guitarists Jacques Brautbar and Darren Robinson, bassist Sam
Farrar and new drummer Jeff Conrad were easy on the eyes. (Click for photos from the show. )

“Hello, New York!” Greenwald greeted the enthusiastic audience as the
group delved into “Knowitall,” “Making a Killing,” “1st Things 1st” and
“Badd Business,” all from Phantom Planet, which came out in
January. The new tunes are significantly different from those on the
band’s previous albums, as Phantom Planet have unapologetically traded
in their sunny, sing-along pop anthems for snotty Strokes-style garage
rock.

The crowd nearly swooned when Greenwald dedicated “Always on My Mind,”
from 2002′s The Guest, to “all the ladies in the audience.” When
he stepped off the stage and attempted to crowd-surf while singing,
fans unabashedly groped his tiny frame. After Greenwald was rescued by
security, Phantom Planet ended their set with “Big Brat,” the first
single from their new album. Midway through, Greenwald climbed the
platform next to the stage and asked the audience, “Will you catch me?”
When he let himself fall backward into the sea of people, they gladly
obliged. Greenwald gave a sly smile as he apologized for “clunking a
few heads” and finished the rest of the song.

After several minutes of earsplitting, nonstop shrieks, the band slowly
straggled back onto the stage for the encore. Brautbar explained,
“We’re going to need some audience participation for this next song.
Even the hipsters in the back who might be too cool — just let it
go.” And everyone did let loose when the quintet broke into their
breakthrough track, “California,” a catchy, feel-good homage to their
home state and the theme song to FOX’s “The O.C.”

The fivesome closed the night with the crowd-pleasing “All Over Again,”
featuring a rowdy drum solo by newcomer Conrad, who easily meshed with
the rest of the band. It wasn’t long before Farrar and Greenwald joined
in, equipped with their own set of drumsticks. Following the trio’s
crazed bout of furious drumming, Greenwald returned to his mic for the
finale, in which he frantically chanted lines that summed up the events
of the night: “You are crowding me in/ I want to get out/ This is the
end/ All over again.” Phantom Planet then departed the stage, leaving
the screaming crowd wanting more.

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