Phoenix, Grizzly Bear

Phoenix at Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA, September 18th, 2010

Sep 30, 2010 Web Exclusive Photography by Iman Mannie Saqr Bookmark and Share


The Frenchies have come a long way. The Parisian four-piece, Phoenixwho until the release of its 2009 album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, barely made ripples, other than on the cool underbelly of indie rockheadlined the Hollywood Bowl for the 2010 summer season closing weekend. The sold-out bill of Phoenix, Grizzly Bear, and Girls marked the start of the group's fall tour.

Phoenix kicked off the mild-weather evening with their most recognizable song, "Lisztomania"-accompanied vociferously by the 17,000-strong crowd who drowned out vocalist Thomas Mars' spirited, if nervous, performance. The nervousness of the group was apparent, but rather than detract from the show, added an endearing, humble quality to the program. The only members not nervous were the expert hired hands, percussionist Thomas "hit it hard" Hedlund and keyboardist Robin Coudert. More than once, the two were pounding away in perfect unison, providing a resilient backbone for Phoenix.

For the majority of Phoenix's show the stage was too dark to make out any detail. Even projected on the large screens throughout the Bowl, shadows were all that was visible. Shame, since Phoenix is considered amongst the more stylish bands. Unfortunately, its attempt at artiness backfired. At one point, a filmy white curtain dropped down hiding the stage while a while light moved up the sides of the Bowl's stage "rim." This presentation was building up to something dramatic that was ultimately anticlimactic. After the light movement was complete, the curtain simply dropped and electrifying red bars of light covered the band as they went into their next number.

This was indicative of the show's whole tone, which was one of build-up. The entire evening felt like the best was yet to come. But Phoenix remained consistent, one identical song running into the next (more noticeable standouts were songs from Alphabetical, such as "Everything Is Everything"), jittery nerves not dissipating for a moment. At one point Mars admitted the group had not slept the night before from anxiety and excitement over the show.

Shuddering lights kept the crowd in suspense for the encore. At this point the group walked through the actual audience, marked by a spotlight. Performing acoustically among the attendees, a poignant version of "Love For Granted" was followed by a song sung in Frenchtotal panty-dropping moment.

Wanting to leave the crowd with something they could exit singing, Phoenix tore into "1901" and "Lasso" from Wolfgang. The group may be Hollywood's new favorite band, but not for one second did the sincerity of its humbleness feel disingenuous.




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