Phoenix at Madison Square Garden with The Dirty Projectors and Wavves
Madison Square Garden
New York, New York
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
In what was undoubtedly the biggest show of the 2010 CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival, French rockers Phoenix brought the Madison Square Garden faithful to its screaming, jumping and cheering feet on October 20th. Phoenix continues to prove that it is more than just that band from the Cadillac commercial ("1901") and from the movie trailers for Where The Wild Things Are, Alice in Wonderland and Valentine's Day ("Lisztomania")both of which were released on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Glass Note/Cooperative, 2009).
On this night Phoenix was supported by the genre bending fusion of The Dirty Projectors and the not-quite-ready-for primetime the San Diegan surf-pop of Wavves (most recently seen headlining New York City's Knitting Factory and Cake Shop). Hitting the stage at precisely 8pm (with only about 1,500 settled into their seats), Wavves led by lead-singer Nathan Williams proceeded to unleash a scrappy set of low-fi, somewhat tinny and distorted indie rock. They were followed to the stage by The Dirty Projectors, whose set was greeted with much more enthusiasm by the growing crowd. The Dirty Projectors fuse R&B, Funk, Jazz, Progressive and Pop-Rock with unique arrangements and off-kilter time signatures. The perfect opening or support act, The Dirty Projectors got the crowd into the mood and on their feet with "Stillness Is The Move" from their 2009 release, Bitte Orca (Domino).
As Phoenix took the stage, a blast of white light was followed by Laurent Brancowitz and Christian Mazzalai plucking out the opening strands of "Lisztomania." Singer Thomas Mars dressed in his customary blue button-down shirt was in complete control and was soon wading through the front of the mosh-pit as he had the crowd was eating from his hands. The band performed rockin' versions of "Lasso," "Long Distance Call," "Girlfriend," "Armistice," "Fences," "North," "Love Like Sunset" and "Run Run Run" amongst others. Almost as impressive as the band's performance was the dazzling light show.
As the main portion of the show ended, the lights dimmed, and the entire band reappeared on a riser toward the rear of the arena (in front of the soundboard). From this spot Phoenix performed a stunning three-song acoustic set consisting of "Honeymoon," "If I Ever Feel Better" and a Johnny Hallyday cover sung in French.
At the end of the song the lights went out and the band vanished. Soon a robotic voice filled the arena with a chant of "HARDER / BETTER / FASTER / STRONGER" and the show commenced with the appearance of surprise gueststheir countrymen, Daft Punk, dressed in black jumpsuits and their chrome-like helmets. The dance duo caught the jaded New York audience by surprise and somehow managed to whip the already excited crowd into a complete frenzy by jamming with Phoenix on "Harder Better Faster Stronger" segueing into "Around the World" and finally on Phoenix's hit "1901."