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Friday, September 18, 2009

Last Night: Phoenix at the Warfield

Posted By on Fri, Sep 18, 2009 at 11:09 AM

  • Pascal Teixeira
Thursday, Sept. 17, 2009
The Warfield

Better than:
Any other cure for the summertime blues.

All of a sudden, it feels like summer in San Francisco. Last night was one of the few evenings where the city baked like a sauna, so what better band to bring on the balmy weather soundtrack than Phoenix, who have arguably created the jam of the summer with "Lisztomania."

That song is so illegally upbeat it should be classified as a narcotic, and at the Warfield all it took were the opening keyboard lines to whip the crowd into an ecstatic frenzy. The French pop fiends made a bold move opening with their big hit, making the beginning feel like the encore--getting the fans to throw their hands in the air and everything. Then again, it also rocketed the mood instantly to a high that was effortlessly maintained throughout Phoenix's performance.

The group produced a grand spectacle to behold--all runner lights on the equipment and strobe lights above and rainbow beams behind them. But an equally dazzling vibe came from the music, which never slowed in pace--or stopped generating enthusiasm--as the night went on.  

From the opening "Lisztomania" to the encore closer "1901," the best songs of the set came off Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, Phoenix's new album that shows this act to be at the forefront of progressive pop. Those two numbers are the album's most confectionary bits, but there were plenty of hooks to go around before the night was over. 

The lineup of songs moved well, these pros taking their turn at radio-friendly electro-tinged pop for half the performance before they turned up the volume on some dirty synth that made the floor vibrate beneath our shoes. The two-part "Love Like a Sunset" involved sexy instrumentals that rattled rib cages, and from there the group let their proggy electronica flag fly. It was all about noodly guitar solos, doubled up synth work, and pastel lights. Together  with all the pot smoke it made it turned the Warfield into a 1970s time capsule, these slick French musicians acting as our guide through bombastic pop with cool atmospheric hues.

Part of the fun came from watching the band members, who put forth great energy and effort throughout the night. Especially impressive was the drummer/synth player who hit both his instruments at once during a couple songs--not to mention he was a dead ringer for Andrew W.K.

But the best part of the night came during the encore, when singer Thomas Mars got so carried away by the crowd's loud clapping and hollering and constant dancing ("We don't get this in France," he told us) he leaped out into the crowd, broadcasting the "Falling, falling" refrain from "1901" a top someone's shoulders.

It was a great finale, moving the crowd back into tank-top weather night with hopes Phoenix returns again to bring more summer anthems, no matter the season.


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Ian S. Port


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