There are 3, maybe 5 bands…
Stars, The National, Broken Social Scene, maybe Mates of State
and for sure…Phoenix
Phoenix at the Varsity this week was one of those rare concert moments when you know you’re experiencing something special. We had a varied crowd of friends including Kay, Jen, Dave, Alex, Patrick, Roxie, Xian, Ding!mann, Emily, Abby, Erin, Jess, Jeff, Jesse, and Andy among others.The jaded (and aging) hipsters were into it. People were dancing, sweating, smiling. Jess said it was like our Woodstock. Substituting sweat for mud. And also I’m sure she meant the last Woodstock, not the original. But she was probably tripping balls when she said it. Kidding, Jess. Or were you? She said it at a movie screening the following night, so yeah, she probably was.
The Varsity had recently increased their seating capacity to almost double what it was, now at 800. Curiously there was no air conditioning and it was about 85 degrees that night, very humid. Varsity Theater, if you have it, use it. If you don’t please get it or you will lose my favorite venue tag. It was a sauna show but we didn’t mind. We stood up front, way closer than normal. We sang, clapped and danced more than we have at a show in…years? I think so. Easily the concert of the year. Excellent mix of songs from all four albums, no filler, no bathroom or beer breaks. The lights and staging were exciting with the beefed up six piece to flesh out the songs in full rock fashion to match their Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix record (get it already). The transitions were tight. The band actually whipped up a crowd of seen-it-alls into a frenzy. They were showmen. The lead singer, Thomas Mars, joined us in the crowd for the last song, walking amongst us. Not above us, but our equal in fun and sweat. That’s the key. The band looked like they were enjoying it as much as us.
If I buy a t-shirt it must be something I’m proud to advertise. And 4 of my 6 rock shirts still in rotation are among those aforementioned bands. (One of the others is still good (Halloween, Alaska) but more on them in a concert review later this summer. And the other is now defunct or morphed into another band – Lftr Pllr “became” The Hold Steady.)
An idea of the show, just a glimpse:
The Star Tribune review was pretty right on for once.
Good news, you’ll have a chance to experience Phoenix this fall at First Ave. I don’t think it’ll ever be the same. We felt like we were seeing a band at their peak before they break through to the next level of stardom with bigger venues to distance you. But it should still be excellent. I’m sure I’ll be there. Hook up and meet us at the Rally. Maybe we’ll sweat less.
and R.I.P. P.Y.T.