I wasn’t sure what to expect seeing The Antlers play live on Monday at the Doug Fir Lounge There are moments of feedback and distortion-heavy rocking on their much-praised Hospice LP (2009), but for the most part it’s an unnervingly tender narrative about a man losing a loved one to cancer. So, with that in mind, I descended into the cozy wooden womb of the Doug Fir Lounge expecting an intimate set perforated by bursts of activity.

The Opening Set

The opening set, Phantogram, is a New York duo that combines synthy textures with hip-hop-like beats. Add to this some heavily filtered vocals (both male and female) and some guitar and you’ve got yourself a party. This party flashed and bumped and enthralled the audience, but I couldn’t help but thinking: this would make good montage music, and it sure would sound great with some Geto Boys lyrics over the top.

But on to the main act (don’t you always feel a little bad for the openers? It takes a real commitment to rock your set when most of the audience it waiting to see the guy in the wings):

The Headliners

I have guitar envy of Peter Silberman. As the fronting member of the Antlers, he switched between an all red Fender Mustang and an all white one. Anyone with guitars that look that good should be able to use them. He does. This is personal, pointed indie rock that could blow the roof off a stadium, and wouldn’t be out of place at a tiny café. Plenty of hard-hitting drums and fiddling of knobs took Silberman and his bandmates from tinny, sweet vocals and the soft hiss of static to full on synth distortion. The interchanging melodic structures kept me looking forward through the noise. If the Antlers can recreate the intensity of this live show and the intimacy of Hospice in their next offering, then I’m ready to add a new record to my collection.