The French indie pop-rock band Phoenix rose to prominence nearly 20 years ago and have remained au courant since then. Their relevance is evidenced by 6 studio-length albums and songs like “1901” and “If I Ever Feel Better” concurrently in heavy rotation on playlists around the world despite having been released over a decade ago. There is, simply put, an airy energetic feel, sound, and look to the quintet (composed of Thomas Mars, Deck d’Arcy, Laurent Brancowitz, Christian Mazzalai, and Thomas Hedlund) that never seems to tire.
Last year Phoenix released Ti Amo (Glassnote Records, 2017) to critical fanfare. Although the band toured the album across North America, Europe, and Asia for the bulk of 2017, they continue their run in 2018 selling out additional dates across the States—their New York residency being no exception. On Saturday night, Phoenix played the third of five shows staged at Brooklyn Steel (promising and delivering something very “Speciale”).
Before Phoenix even sets foot on stage, it’s obvious that there’s something different about the venue. Through the crowds of people one can spot a phone booth, a gelato stand, innocuously placed perfume ads, sake bottles (branded with Phoenix’s name), and merchandise unlike anything that can be purchased at regular shows (some of which is housed in a vending machine)—as if the anticipation wasn’t already running high. When Phoenix finally arrives on stage their show is nothing short of magic. Mars knows how to please a crowd and relies heavily on his playful nature to fully immerse himself into the room (both emotionally and physically—spending a portion of the encore crowd surfing and singing from the center of the venue). As a live act alone, Phoenix is unabashedly epic and not to be missed.