The 1998 release of Phantom Planet’s Geffen debut, “Phantom Planet Is Missing,” barely caused a blip on the industry radar, but in the last few years, two members have made names for themselves as actors: Singer-guitarist Alexander Greenwald was in “Donnie Darko” as well as several high-profile Gap ads, and drummer Jason Schwartzman (Francis Ford Coppola’s nephew) starred in “Rushmore.” Not surprisingly, the group’s new album, which hit the street last week, is already off to a promising start.
At the very packed Roxy on Saturday, one in a recent series of local gigs and appearances coordinated around the Epic Records release of “The Guest,” the quintet rocked much harder and with more dynamic energy than it does in the studio, perhaps fueled by the rabid response the band earns whenever it plays in Hollywood.
The Phantom Planet sound is a sunny and radio-friendly, multiple-guitar pop rock mix similar to Crowded House or perhaps a less-serious Pearl Jam. Greenwald’s vocal skills are somewhat limited, but he and his mates attacked each song with infectious zeal.
Tunes such as the hook-laden “California,” which is on Columbia’s “Orange County” soundtrack, and the Elvis Costello-informed “Nobody’s Fault” sported grand pop melodies, peppy choruses and only the most common and simple themes: lost and found love, driving in the sun with the top down, etc. “All Over Again” rocked with three guitars to make up for the album version’s missing organ, after which Greenwald threw himself onto the crowd’s outstretched hands.
The 12-song, hourlong show ended in fine fashion with a surprise appearance by Attractions drummer Pete Thomas, who led the smiling young band through a worthy rendition of Costello’s “Pump It Up.”