Phoenix @ Hollywood Bowl 9/18/10

As published by LA RECORD:

“It’s Saturday night. It’s the Hollywood Bowl. It doesn’t get any better than this,” gushed Phoenix frontman Thomas Mars at the start of the band’s first Bowl experience. “I never thought we’d be here.” Which is funny, because the band seemed right at home in front of the sea of 17,000 fans at the sold-out hillside venue. Launched into the stratosphere by their latest record, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix—and with more than a little help from the Cadillac SRX commercial featuring the catchy “1900”— Phoenix kicked off their U.S. tour with nothing short of a spectacle.

 

After the departure of wonderfully dreamy openers Grizzly Bear, upon the first footfalls of Phoenix to the stage, the entire audience merged as one oddly shaped amoeba and leaped to its feet. Groups of friends oscillated arm in arm, hollering along to their favorite tunes, and not an ass landed back down on the bench from whence it sprung for the entire hour-and-a-half set.

Turning the audience frenzy up full force right out of the gate, Phoenix kicked off the set with the energetic “Lisztomania.” The spectacular lighting was just as impressive as the band’s performance, and they power-housed through a set full of goodies like “Long Distance Call,” “Rome,” “Girlfriend,” and “Everything is Everything.” And while it may be hard to imagine the boyfriend of Sofia Coppola pulling the humility card, Mars seemed genuinely humbled by the adoration oozing from the audience, ranging from 20- and 30-somethings and sprinkled with a good number of pre-teens accompanied by mom and dad, themselves singing along to the band’s accessible jangly electro-pop.

I was delighted to substantiate that Mars’ shimmering vocals are not the result of studio magic; his silvery timbre is all his own, and it sounded downright gorgeous booming through the Bowl’s massive speakers. When one could manage to avert their eyes from the lead singer’s adorable boyish visage, they were glued to phenomenal drummer Thomas Hedlund, an apogee of rock might. The rest of the Gallic sextet—bassist Deck D’Arcy, keyboardist Robin Coudert, and guitarists Christian Mazzalai and Laurent Brancowitz—weren’t too shabby, either.

The final encore can only be described as epic, if not a tad absurd: The stage fell dark, and slowly the house lights flooded the front rows, revealing the band smack in the middle of a sea of stunned fans. Phoenix of course rolled out what everyone had long been waiting for: You guessed it, that one from the car commercial. Meanwhile, the awestruck fans who found themselves within reach of their beloved demigods timidly outstretched their arms to brush against a bit of glory. The band hamming up their newfound fame may be construed by some as tacky…but not by me. I’d do it, too.

Linda Rapka

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