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Indiana, here we come

Katie Kohler and Molly Lamping | Monday, April 10, 2006

Phantom Planet may be familiar to most people as the band that sings “California,” the omnipresent theme song to Fox’s television hit “The O.C.” The band’s concert at Saint Mary’s on Thursday night, though, proved that there is more to the group than just one song.

Phantom Planet, along with openers Delaney and Slap Bracelet Suicide, was able to let loose during its concert in O’Laughlin Auditorium for the annual SMC Tostal.

The setting of the small venue and intimate crowd allowed Phantom Planet to put on an effortless concert and promote its new music, as well as play some old favorites. The venue was so relaxed, in fact, that lead singer and guitarist Alex Greenwald talked to the audience between songs and even added a few sing-alongs.

Even though the auditorium was far from full, the audience was very receptive to the Los Angeles natives.

It is safe to say that most of the audience came for the “‘O.C.’ factor,” but many left pleasantly surprised at the stage presence of the band and its unique indie rock sound.

“The song ‘California’ was great, but they have a lot of other good songs, too,” Notre Dame freshman Matt Townsend said. “I thought it was the best concert I’ve seen on campus this year.”

The Thursday night concert was the headlining event of SMC Tostal, an annual spring event for Saint Mary’s students. The first band of the evening was Slap Bracelet Suicide, who won Saint Mary’s Battle of the Bands. Slap Bracelet Suicide, comprised of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s students, played a hard rock set.

The second of the two opening bands, Delaney, was also made up of Notre Dame students. The band had a sound that fit more closely with the California rock vibe of Phantom Planet’s music, but it was the headliners themselves that finally brought fans to their feet.

As soon as Phantom Planet took the stage, the energy in the room quickly increased and never came back down. The band was constantly impressive throughout its hour-and-a-half long set.

Greenwald showed his immense talent with exciting guitar solos and nearly flawless vocals all night. Greenwald’s skill particularly shined when his bandmates left the stage and he entertained audience requests solo, stringing together a total of seven of the band’s songs, accompanied only by his acoustic guitar. He also played piano on a few songs, including the popular ballad “Turn Smile Shift Repeat.”

Audience participation made the concert a lot of fun for those in attendance. Greenwald asked students to sing along on songs such as “California” and “Lonely Day.” Another fun and interesting part of the band’s set was the final song. The group broke out into a hard rock version of the theme from “Phantom of the Opera.”

Students from Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame and Holy Cross, as well as members of the South Bend community came to see the band perform.

“It’s so great that Saint Mary’s sponsored such a big event,” Saint Mary’s senior Anna Brennan said. “I wish more people would have come, though.”

Phantom Planet has been around since the mid ’90s and has released a total of seven albums for record labels Epic and Geffen. The band has opened for such famous and diverse acts as Sting, Elvis Costello, Incubus, Maroon 5 and Ludacris.