Thursday, September 28, 2006

Phoenix

Research Rock
The Crocodile, Seattle, WA

You know those times when you're walking along minding your own cultural references, and your friend casually references a Hot New Thing, then ten minutes later your waiter mentions that very same band or artist and now suddenly they are EVERYWHERE? This happened in Seattle a few weeks ago with Banksy, and now it's happening with Phoenix.

Yes, I know that you hip people have been listening to Phoenix for nearly two years, like the UW senior I meet in line for the bathroom tonight. It's her adorable first time at the Croc, and earlier today she attended Phoenix's in-store at Easy Street. She said they were all great and cute, but that one of the guys gave her pedophile energy with his pervy-ness. She said that I would totally know which band member it was when I saw him.

IMG_3008The attire is refreshingly selective this evening, though it's divided between those who have already put away their summer clothes and those who are hanging on. A lot of boys wear skinny jeans, fancy t-shirts and sport coats. The girls have chunky lopsided blonde hair and strappy heels. I spot at least three fedora hats and a couple of those blasted driving caps that for some reason look fine if you are male and under 25.

IMG_3010Listening to the songs I get the sense that these boys have done their research. I picture them sitting in a conference room pouring over thousands of #1 pop songs from the last 30 years and extracting the best chord progressions and bridges. Maybe one of them brings in a PowerPoint presentation called "Extending the Promise of Tahiti 80." Another kicks off a brainstorming session to come up with ways that their live show can differ from their album. The results of this session clearly include "really long repetitive intro," "expanded bass/drum interlude," and "Thomas stares at crowd." These techniques work to increase tension and drama in the room only to a point; if they go on too long, we stop concentrating and start thinking of which emails we need to reply to and how long that hole has been in the ceiling.

IMG_3016Phoenix is made up of gorgeous boys who must get a ton of action. When lead singer Thomas Mars addresses the crowd, several of us think, um, aren't you guys supposed to be French? He gleams with pre-daddy star power and cranks through his songs accompanied by the bassist and a vocal effect that make it sound like there are five of him. They try to balance the incredibly catchy soon-to-be-hits with the noodling breaks, and it mostly works for this sold-out crowd of pop worshippers. Now we'll see how long hot can last.

Fanalyst Rating

Fashion: ***
Scene: ***
Band/Audience Rapport: **
Audience Focus: ***

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