Alt-rock phenomenon Phoenix headlined at Boston University’s Agganis Arena. They were preceded by The Wavves, a San Diego based noise pop band, and electro-pop Two Door Cinema Club. The Wavves opened without introducing themselves at 7:30 pm to an almost empty and disengaged arena. “I was so confused,” said COM freshman Timothy Shivers. “They were horrible.” During the short 20-minute set, lead singer Nathan Williams was unaware of the number of songs his band was supposed to play. Their performance was filled with ear-piercing feedback, and awkwardly long water breaks between each similar-sounding song.
Finally, at 8:10 pm, the crowd was energized by the appearance of Two Door Cinema Club’s “Cigarettes in the Theatre.” The band’s attire, button downs and skinny jeans, was reminiscent of Vampire Weekend. But their sound was an evern pop-ier version of Phoenix. The crowd was especially engaged during “Undercover Martyn,” and “Something Good Can Work,” two of the most popular singles from their album Tourist History, released February 2010). A new edition to the tour, drummer Ben Thompson added a rougher rock element to their typically polished sound. “Do You Want It All,” the repetitive yet catchy tune, ended on a powerful note when the band members harmonized a cappella. Shortly following “Eat That Up It’s Good For You,” featuring intricate guitar solos by Sam Halliday, Two Door Cinema Club closed with “Come Back Home.”
The night’s headliner, Phoenix, took the stage in front of an ecstatic crowd at 9:20 pm. The band started with “Lisztomania,” during which they remained as shadowy silhouettes until the chorus. Following, the crowd gleefully sang along to “Lasso,” another single from their Grammy-winning album Wolfgang Amadeus.
Phoenix played all songs from their latest record, but also included “Long Distance Call,” “Rally,” “Funky Square Dance,” and “Love for Granted,” from previous collections. The crowd was most engaged during the singles from Wolfgang Amadeus, the album for which Phoenix claims its fame.
During the band’s instrumental hit “Love Like a Sunset, Part I,” lead singer Thomas Mars laid down on the floor, creating anticipation and confusion. However, as they transitioned into “Love Like a Sunset, Part II,” the crowd sang along with Mars’ sweet melodies. Phoenix enticed audience members to clap along during “Rally,” in which band members were encased in spotlights. “Funky Square Dance,” was synthesized, which was an experimental twist, but Mars was difficult to understand.
The song ended with continuously piercing sound and flashing lights, as the band exited the stage. This seemed to be the finale, until band members appeared in the middle of the arena’s floor with their acoustic guitars in hand. Audience members swarmed as Mars crooned to “Love for Granted,” as well as “an old 60’s French classic” (as described by Mars). Isabelle Richardson, College of Arts and Sciences and School of Education 2013, said, “my favorite moment was when he came in the middle because it made it [the concert] more intimate.” This revealed a more personal and softer side of Phoenix after the power of their techno-rock songs. Although beautiful, the audience tuned out the French acoustic tune, because of lack of understanding.
Phoenix returned for the highly anticipated “1901.” Among screaming fans, Mars grasped a glowing orange rope and climbed into the audience, where he sang from the steps of Section 103. Soon after, Jacob Bishop (CAS ’14) said, “It was unbelievable to see them interacting with the crowd.”
Agganis was too overwhelming of a space for such a concert that required more intimacy between audience members and the band. Richardson said, “Bring them back [Phoenix] but to a smaller venue like the House of Blues.” Despite this challenge, Mars used the arena to his advantage during his performance of “1901.”
The lighting effects were an experience in itself, with different cues for each song and transition.
The crowd, mostly college age students, was stupefied upon exiting the arena. SMG sophomore MengLin Zhang commented, “It was my first time seeing Phoenix, and they were so good! I didn’t expect them to sound so much like the album.”