Phoenix’s stop at Express Live opened up with Los Angeles based indie rock band Lo Moon.
Each of the band members mysteriously appeared wearing all black under an ominous red glow that reflected the spooky attitudes of the Halloween season.
They performed their released Spotify tracks “Loveless” and “This Is It.” The former’s song title pretty much sums up the somber theme of their music which almost made my heart ache. “This Is It” gave off a sort of Glass Animals vibe through its airy, atmospheric sound alongside the steady, quasi exotic rhythm of the drums and rumba shaker that is impossible not to sway around to.
The band also played a track that was just released Friday called “Thorns,” which tugged at your heartstrings even more.
Singer Matt Lowell had the crowd transfixed by his beautifully soft and melodic voice accompanied by an array of instruments: piano, drums, keyboard, and three electric guitars, creating a huge sound that only strengthened the mystical trance they had us in.
Lo Moon refrained from interacting with the crowd too much as if they did not want to waste a single second of their set; it was solely about the music and maintaining the sort of dark, eery and introspective feel it created.
Just after Lo Moon had the crowd deep in their feels, the French electro/indie pop band Phoenix came out and lifted everyone’s spirits, opening with “J Boy” from their latest album, Ti Amo.
The album is all about romance and is based on a fantasy version of Italy. It’s upbeat and bouncy and just downright fun; the swaying turned to jumping and dancing like we were in a nightclub, and there were some sick bass drops that I had not been expecting.
Phoenix played songs “Ti Amo” and “Fior Di Latte” from Ti Amo that especially highlight the lusty, romantic theme of the album, particularly the latter’s noteworthy lyric, “We’re meant to get it on.” Needless to say, it got pretty steamy inside the venue, and it wasn’t just from the fog machines.
The backdrop was a tilted mirror so that you could see the reflection of the stage floor which had colorful and trippy images and designs projected on it that added to the disco feel of the music, along with the rainbow colored neon lights that shot out in rays into the audience.
I was about five rows away from the stage and right next to the speaker– I could almost see the vibrations in the air and I could definitely feel them in my chest as I danced around, my mind taking mental pictures as the strobe lights went off. I was in a state of euphoria, along with everyone else in the audience.
The best part about the performance was that it was a communal experience. Singer Thomas Mars, looking vibrant and spirited in his colorful, flowery shirt, was full of smiles and thumbs-ups, yelling “Columbus, what’s up!” and saying how good it was to be back here.
You could tell how genuinely happy each group member was, their faces looking humbled and grateful for the audience, who sang along to every lyric.
At one point, Mars came down into the crowd to sing, and he made his fellow bandmates stop playing so he could thank us for knowing the verses, for in France, Mars said, the audiences only know the chords since he sings mostly in English.
The band played all of their hits, including “Lasso,” “Lisztomania,” “Armistice,” and “Girlfriend” that had the crowd going crazy. Then, finally, “1901” came on and I about lost it, for it is one of my favorites. After the song, Mars ended the show by hurling himself into the audience to crowd surf.
It was my first time seeing Phoenix live, and I was just blown away. My ears were ringing long after the concert ended, and my body ached from all the dancing, but they were just reminders of how much I love live music. No wonder Phoenix was a Coachella headliner.
Seeing the band live just made me love them ten times more than I already did. So if you’re looking to have nothing but a good time, Phoenix is definitely where it’s at.
Featured Image: Phoenix Live at Shaky Knees Festival // PC: Getty Images & NME
You can listen to Phoenix’s Ti Amo on Spotify below.