Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

2009.  What a year!  New Orleans had risen like a Phoenix from the Katrina ashes.  The rebirth was vibrant.  The city was at the height of what makes it so deceiving and infectious.  The Saints were marching their way to their first ever Super Bowl.  I was lucky enough to attend every home game.  The Superdome was electric.  Bruno and I had been Phoenix, the band, lifer fans and knew a new album was coming.  The day it was finally released I got a text from Bruno, “It’s out….and it’s incredible!”  In even more 2009 New Orleans magic, Phoenix’s tour was routing through the States and would be playing Tipitina’s October 1.  This album and that show are simply bliss.  Let’s get into it.

The first single released was “1901.”  You’re immediately greeted with the upbeat synth, the loudest sound in the mix.  The lyrics pertain to a Parisian fantasy, but the story is inconsequential.  It’s so damn danceable and overpowering.  The next single was the first track, “Lisztomania” which would lead the album to explode on the masses and really catapult Phoenix from relative indie obscurity.  Pretty prescient of Phoenix considering “Lisztomania” is a term depicting the overwhelming public response to 1800’s Hungarian composer Franz Liszt’s piano performances.  “Fences” takes the beat down a bit but may be the album’s hidden gem.  Phoenix jump the gun on their French counterparts, Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories with Love like a Sunset Pts. 1&2.  “Pt.1” is a beautiful instrumental that sounds like a combo of “Contact” and all RAM Nile Rodgers Chician guitar licks.  Minute 3:45 provides a hair-raising upbeat that sets the listener up perfectly for the serenity of “Pt.2.”  “Lasso” was the third single released, another ear worm with a perfect rhythm section that takes you out of the beautiful Sunset trance.  It’s also incredibly hard not to sing the lyrics as “Where would you go little asshole”…but I digress.  The album concludes the way it began with 4 more perfect dance tracks, and with a whirling dervish ending with “Armistice.”  But how would they be live? 

Bruno, Guider, and I had been waiting all Fall for this show.  It was a Thursday night and none of us had plans to work that Friday.  All of our collective energy was going into Tips that night.  In my experience, when you look too forward to something, you are usually let down.  This would not be the case.  Our friend Barb joined us and we pre-gamed a block away at Tchoup 45, possessing an incredible juke box which Guider, as normal, took over.  We decimated beers and were lucky no one took a dart to the jugular.  We stumbled into Tips right before Phoenix took the stage.  The show was sold out and we had to go upstairs (no longer an option) and somehow got in a stage center position. It’s killing me that I can’t remember what their lights down house music was before they took the stage…but I do remember it was perfectly selected.  Mars entered the stage with his signature oxford blue shirt and jeans and the synth lit up into “1901.”  The place went nuts.  I can’t ever remember another show where the Tips rafters were moving as much.  That energy never relented.  They played the album in its entirety.  Also, “If I Ever Feel Better” and “Too Young” were on the setlist from 2000’s United.   I think we pissed alot of people off beerily creating dance space for ourselves up there, but we had been partying to these songs for almost 10 years…we would not be robbed.  We conservatively drank 1000 beers that night.  The morning was sheer pain.  Blissful, blissful pain.  What a night.  One of my favorites. WAP (which has a whole other meaning in current pop music vernacular) would deservedly win the Grammy for Best Alternative Album.

Favorite Tracks: All

Pressing: Glassnote GLS-0105-01, Loyaute- GLS-0105-01. 2009.