Saturday, June 17, 2017

Concert Review: Phoenix @ The Fillmore Philadelphia - Philadelphia, PA 06/02/17

Phoenix was a gift.  Literally.  It was 2006 when the package arrived in the mail.  The contents were simply a CD and a sticky note.  The sticky note read, "You deserve some great music."  The CD was the brand new album by Phoenix, It's Never Been Like That.  I didn't know Phoenix from The Dodos, so I popped it in the CD player.  From the opening notes of "Napoleon Says," I was hooked.  I was suddenly transported to the sexy pop that, I imagine, is played in clubs of the French Riviera.  I listened, while acting aloof, sipping drinks with Daft Punk.  They asked me where I got my awesome mask.  I didn't tell them.  That's how I roll.

It is now 2017 and Phoenix is a gift again.  Friends of mine provided me with passes to their upcoming show at the Fillmore Philadelphia.  I was excited to see them for the first time performing hits such as "1901" and "Liztomania." I was equally excited to hear more new music from their upcoming 6th release, like "J-Boys" and "Ti Amo."  An added bonus was the opening act was The Lemon Twigs, who I saw on their headlining tour a few months back at Underground Arts. I couldn't wait to see how the road, and a taste of success, had changed their approach on putting on that one great rock show.

Fillmore venues are great at taking large spaces and making them seem intimate.  It's like a romantic dinner for five thousand and no one is stuck at the end of the table. Well-lit and sizable bars bookend both sides of the stage preventing the "Drink Dance of Trust" from coming to a shirt near you.  No matter where you stand you have a great view - unless you are lucky like me - and have the one 6'5" gentleman in the crowd stand in front of you, only to be replaced by the only man in the crowd wearing a hat.  Not a baseball hat, and not a beret - I would welcome a beret for the view and the laugh - but a ten-gallon derby.  Yes, that's a thing.  Made specifically for my disappointment.

The Lemon Twigs were treated to a fairly large crowd for an opening act. From the rumblings of the crowd, not many in attendance knew who they were.  The Lemon Twigs don't care.  Look at them.  They just smile and jump around the stage like animals.  I love that feeling when an audience gets turned on by the energy of a new band.  You could feel them winning them over.  I almost wanted to chant, "Ru -dy.  Roo - dee.  ROOO - DEEE". They played hits from their current release, Do Hollywood, like "These Words," and some new and unreleased music as well.  The highlight for me was a cover of John Prine's "Fish and Whistle."

I like to judge a concert by the audience.  I have been to shows where I just wasn't getting it, but the rest of the crowd was.  When Phoenix hit the stage, it was unanimous.  It was going to be a good night.  Judging from the Seth Rogan twins in front of me that were dancing, spilling drinks, and groping their women, it was going to be a stellar night. They were pummeling me with elbows even though they had more space on the floor than Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.  Still, it's hard to be mad at someone that is having that much fun at a show.  After that I smiled a little more.  I even shook my hips.

Phoenix finished their encore with "1901," but they left the stage only to come back to a reprise of "Ti Amo."  Thomas walked across the crowd like they were a moon bounce.  He was bobbing up and down while saying, "Thank you."  The crowd danced all night.  What a fitting way for them to say thank you to Phoenix.

Backstage, the band was subdued despite having to leave for NYC.  You would never have guessed they were on a tight schedule with the laid back manner in which they sat and talked.  Even though they were in a hurry, it didn't stop Thomas from signing autographs and taking photos with the fans that waited outside by their tour bus.

Although I had the opportunity, I never spoke with the band.  I didn't look like a tourist running around snapping pictures.  I was content just being there in the moment.  Sometimes I get so wrapped up in being a reviewer, or a fan, I forget to enjoy myself.  I took a second to sit down and drink it all in. I noticed the artist's names that had performed at The Fillmore painted on the brick wall back stage.  Artists like Questlove and Hall & Oates  sat right where I was sitting.  I listened to the band checking on each other as they got themselves ready to leave.  I imagined that this was everyday life. That this was normal.  At that moment, had Phoenix asked me where I got my awesome mask, I would have told them.


See you when the needle drops!


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