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Tennis, anyone? Phantogram & TEEN play like elite doubles team

Published April 11, 2014 9:06 pm

Music • Electronic rock duo headlines showat In the Venue.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It is a little surprising to hear the band TEEN liken themselves, out of nowhere, to the tennis-playing Bryan brothers.

Twin brothers Bob and Mike Bryan are the current No. 1-ranked doubles team in the world, now going on six years with that ranking. The 35-year-olds have won more than 85 titles, including 15 Grand Slam competitions. They are the elite.

TEEN frontwoman Teeny Lieberson, while quickly clarifying they don't consider themselves the No. 1 band in the world, said the teamwork the Bryan brothers illustrate on clay and grass is the same type of teamwork her band shows onstage.

"Some [tennis] players have said it is creepy to play the Bryan brothers," the singer of the rock band said. "Like them, we anticipate each other's moves, and we don't need to talk about things — we just do them. We get on a roll."

Part of the reason for the comparison is that Lieberson is joined in the band by her sisters Lizzie Lieberson on keys and Katherine Lieberson on drums.

When headliner Phantogram's Sarah Barthel hears that TEEN likened themselves to the Bryans, she too said the way she plays onstage with Josh Carter is like a high-spirited tennis match.

"Josh always calls us psychic twins," Barthel said of the electronic rock duo, which is touring in support of the new sophomore album "Voices." "We're both working for the same thing. If you're not there, he'll be there. We both know what to do if the other needs help."

Most exciting for Phantogram fans is that plans are in the works for the long-awaited, much-rumored EP in which they will record with seminal Southern rapper Big Boi of OutKast. For his second solo album, "Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors," Big Boi featured Phantogram on three tracks and gave them a producer's credit for the track "Objectum Sexuality."

"At first, he was like a freaking god," Barthel said of meeting and befriending the hip-hop pioneer. "And then he became a mentor. What keeps us equal is our love for the music. OutKast has inspired us since the beginning."

TEEN might remind Utah fans of the band Teeny Lieberson used to be in, Here We Go Magic, a frequent guest on Utah's stages. She left the band about three years ago.

"Being in Here We Go Magic was one of the best experiences of my life," Lieberson said. "I left [the band] because I wanted to be in front and write songs. For me, I'm the leader, compared to just the keyboard player."

TEEN's forthcoming album "The Way and Color" represents a sea change, with intricate arrangements showing a poise and confidence that previous efforts didn't display. "Everything has its purpose," Teeny said of the new album. "Before, the approach was more loose, trying to make everything seem easy, [and] not obsessing over minutiae. … [Now] nothing should be arbitrary. We have more vision and are focused."

It sounds like a tennis team. A good one. —

Phantogram with TEEN

When • Wednesday, April 16, at 7 p.m.

Where • In the Venue, 579 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City

Tickets • $20 in advance, $22 day of, at SmithsTix