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Very few bands are able to match the grace and artistic style that a Phoenix performance is all about. The French indie pop band, comprised of longtime high school friends Thomas Mars, Laurent Brancowitz, Christian Mazzalai, and Deck d’Arcy, have been crafting their infectious danceable pop tunes since their critically acclaimed debut album, United, premiered in 2000. With each new album Phoenix puts out, Mars and company prove that they can create original and catchy music that still calls to mind genres of years past. This reigns especially true with their most recently released album, Ti Amo, which is also the central theme of their current headlining tour. Their sixth studio album is filled with their trademark delicious pop which blends perfectly with the addition of some more disco-like tracks. When playing either “J-Boy”, “Tuttifrutti”, or “Goodbye Soleil” off of Ti Amo, one can easily discern the different emotions that this album seems to address in each track.
Now, after being slated to play five nights at Brooklyn Steel (all of which were sold out), Phoenix was ready to take the sold out crowd by storm Thursday night. Walking in to the venue after it had been subsequently packed to the brim, I was really taken by how Phoenix had gone out of their way to hold a sort of “mini fair” for those in attendance. With gelato machines, killer merchandise stands that featured Phoenix’s own saké, and a prop phone booth that served as an attraction for fans looking to take photos with the Ti Amo logo. As the ground floor and upper levels swelled with eager fans waiting for Phoenix to take center stage, the lights went out and the intro to “J-Boy” commenced.
With a dazzling light set up and massive LED screen in the background that gave the band a cool silhouette, Mars immediately kicked out the jams. “J-Boy”, a song that is bolstered by Hedlund’s ringing snare hits, Thomas Mars’s vocals, and elegant keys, created an ethereal sense of pleasure which was intensified by Phoenix’s perfect bravado. Leaving not only myself and the crowd little time to catch our breath, the band immediately followed-up with “Lasso” off of their grammy-award winning LP, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.
To say that Thomas Mars was the ideal frontman would be an understatement. Sounding just as rich live as he does when heard live, Mars was nailing every note with perfection, while also hyping the excitable crowd up with his smooth moves. Being only two songs in and having played back-to-back bangers, Phoenix then started the unmistakable keyboard intro to “Entertainment” from their 2013 album Bankrupt!. As I watched the audience dance away, and the band return the energy tenfold, it occurred to me just how many catchy and popular tracks these guys seem to churn out with each album. Whether it be a deep cut or a song like “If I Ever Feel Better”, Phoenix’s setlist was filled with so many personal favorites that is was impossible not be entranced by the perfect showmanship and musical technicality that they displayed throughout the entire night. But when they closed out the night with “Funky Squaredance” though, wow. A four part song that really pays “homage” to their French brothers, Daft Punk, “Funky Squaredance” is a seven minute epic jam session that really proves why Phoenix is such a powerhouse.
As Phoenix wrapped up one of the more memorable performances Brooklyn Steel has seen since it’s opening, the balloons dropped from the ceiling as Thomas Mars made his way through the crowd as the dance party commenced. A continuous five song encore that consisted of favorites like “1901”, “Goodbye Soleil”, and “Telefono”, I’ve never seen such a large crowd so attentive and energetic throughout an entire performance. This is only further proof as to why Phoenix is hailed as being one of the best performers in their genre and in the music scene in general. Words alone can hardly express the feelings of wonder and gratitude at just how amazing a Phoenix concert is to experience.