Monday, January 21, 2019

Phoenix closes tour emphatically in Austin*

Posted by teibs On December - 18 - 2009

Phoenix@ZackTeibloom You might want to hold off on your best-of 2009 lists until we actually finish the year. I’ve seen a few “best concerts of ’09” lists that lean heavily on tour openers,** but there’s something to be said for tour enders. With nothing coming up, the band holds nothing back. They’ll take a longer encore. Run out into the crowd. Try alternate breakdowns. Let you up on stage. They’ll sing the chorus of their hit song over and over and over from the rafters. And, if it’s Phoenix, they’ll do it all with that “Really? You like us this much?!” genuine gratitude you won’t see from anyone not named Regina.

In what was easily the most hyped Austin show since Animal Collective came to town in June, Phoenix sold out their entire tour, and their La Zona Rosa gig in a day and a half. LZR is a perfectly-sized venue to see them in (though they could have easily sold out a far bigger space) and flanked by two strong openers in White Denim and Hockey, it completely lived up to the precedent they set with their ACL show. Phoenix owns Austin.

The crowd was already appropriately warmed up from the power trio rock of White Denim and the “they could have fit in well in the 80s” Hockey who sounded dynamic all set, but especially with the wildly catchy “Tomorrow’s Just a Song Away” and singer with a feather earring***.

Phoenix opened by sending us into “Lisztomania****” with the extended intro being played before they got on stage. The crowd, who had limited themselves to head-nodding during the opening bands, danced wildly like the “brat pack” in the the unofficial video.

“We are Phoenix. We’re from Paris, France. Clap your hands with us, come on!” lead singer Thomas Mars said to the adoring fans whose hands were already in the air before going into “Long Distance Call.”

Mars later told us clap twice, then once in succession because that’s the way they did it in France and it made him feel good. You can always tell how in command of the crowd the singer is by the response to the clap demands. We followed his every move.

Phoenix leaned heavily on their 2009 album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, which finished top-3 in pretty much every indie-rock (and rock) top of ’09 lists, and with good reason.

PhoenixCrowd favorites like “Fences” and “Girlfriend” kept the pace somewhere between frenetic pop madness and cool, calm awe-inspiring. A tricky balance for a set that wasn’t much longer than an hour, but Phoenix is running on all cylinders at the end of this tour. There are few bands I’d rather see on any given night.

“Love like a Sunset” was a thing of beauty. Sometimes it takes seeing a band live to get the imagery of a song. The 7+ minute overture is all build-up and light resolution, like sitting on a beach, watching the sun creep down into the water. It constantly sounds like what I want to call it a breakdown, but it starts the song. The lights flashed red and strobed white as the band (sans Mars) get a driving, trance-y track going. It’s what you’re used to from the album, but then they devolve the wall of noise a bit jarringly, (the way the air gets colder as the sun disappears) as the two guitarists taking turns on little riffs that send them back into more of a classic rock sound for one last gasp of sunlight. From there, they build up to a full sound again, in a wild collage that lets you know this band could pump out a hard rock album that would punch you in the face, if they felt like it. Then that soft strum. The reassuring vocals. Love like a sunset.

A few more songs and 1/3 of the ignorant crowd left not seeing a painfully obvious encore coming, leaving me a chance to get to second row, middle for the best encore I’ve seen in a while. Just Mars and his guitarist on stage for a soft, calming version of “Everything is Everything” before the band came back for “If I Ever Feel Better.”

(Video courtesy of Ultra 8201)

Phoenix“1901” was the breakout smash of the year and they did it up as big as they could. The rendition was perfect even before the two big surprises. Mars took his super-long microphone chord into the crowd and went all the way to the back, climbing up top to sing “fold it, fold it, fold it, fold it!” over and over to the adoring crowd who was in ecstasy. I patted him on the back as he walked passed and was almost disappointed in my now last row view from by the stage, but he came back and invited us all up on stage.

I lept up, jumped up and down a couple times, huddled by Mars and the band for the last 1/4th of the song and just felt happy to be alive, crashing and at the last Phoenix show of 2009 and one of my favorite sets of the year. My ears are still ringing. I’m OK with that.

  • White Denim: 8.6/10
  • Hockey: 8.8/10
  • Phoenix: 9.7/10


(Note this is a set-list from last week, but from what I can tell it’s the same or very similar to what they played Thursday. If you see discrepancies, please tell me.)

  1. Lisztomania
  2. Long Distance Call
  3. Lasso
  4. Rally
  5. Fences
  6. Girlfriend
  7. Armistice
  8. Love Like a Sunset Part I
  9. Love Like a Sunset Part II
  10. Napoleon Says
  11. Too Young
  12. Run Run Run
  13. Consolation Prizes
  14. Funky Squaredance
  15. Rome


  1. Everything Is Everything
  2. If I Ever Feel Better
  3. 1901

*They. Fucking. Killed. @Mattsilver asked how the show was and that was my first response. He said it should be the headline. How about footnote for the headline?

**And they didn’t even mention Phish at Hampton! The show I regret missing the most.

***I didn’t notice the feather earring until he turned around halfway through the set. It was a pretty hilarious reveal that reminded me of when Cross flashes the ponytail in one of my all-time favorite Mr. Show skits.

****I didn’t invent that as a verb. The term “Lisztomania” was coined by the German romantic literary figure Heinrich Heine to describe the massive public response to Liszt’s virtuoso piano performances.

Photo credit to Austinist <–check out the rest of their pics from the show.

4 Responses

  1. Festival Crashers » Blog Archive » Successful Crash #25: Phoenix at La Zona Rosa Said,

    […] was the Phoenix show? […]

    Posted on December 18th, 2009 at 10:46 pm

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    […] Phoenix Closes Tour Emphatically in Austin […]

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  3. Festival Crashers » Blog Archive » Festival Crashers 1,000th Post Said,

    […] Phoenix closes tour emphatically in Austin* […]

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    […] Al Green and Phoenix, we’ve already got two consistent A performers. Add in Chromeo, My Morning Jacket and The […]

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