“When you’re on tour, you play places where bands have been before, and you feel part of a tradition, and tonight it’s sort of the ultimate, the pinnacle moment,” declared Phoenix singer Thomas Mars from the stage during the French band’s debut ACL taping. “We’re very proud to be doing this ACL TV show, and we’re proud that you’re doing this with us – we feel like we’re keeping Austin weird.”
Phoenix opened its stellar performance with “Entertainment,” the radio hit off its new LP Bankrupt! Tone set, the sextet ripped through an energetic set, drawn mostly from the new record and its breakthrough predecessor Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. “Lasso,” “Armistice” and “Fences” got both band and crowd up and moving, with the massive hit “Lisztomania” getting a rave response. Connecting the dots of its decade-plus career, Phoenix put “Too Young,” a tune from its debut, into a seamless medley with the more recent “Girlfriend.” The group explored moodier territory as well, with the more midtempo “Long Distance Call” and the lush “The Real Thing” proving that the band knows how to vary its approach. Phoenix also brought an epic feel to some tunes, creating a trilogy with “Trying to Be Cool, “Drakkar Noir” and “Chloroform” and an anthemic medley from “Love Like a Sunset Pt. 1 & 2” and “Bankrupt,” cheekily titled “Sunskrupt!”
Phoenix ended the main set with its other smash – the opening synth notes of “1901” drew the loudest cheers of the night. But the band wasn’t done. Guitarist Christian Mazzalai returned to the stage, while Mars ensconced himself comfortably in the crowd to sing intimate versions of “Countdown” and “Playground Love,” the Air song from the soundtrack to The Virgin Suicides for which Mars provided lyrics and vocals. When the rest of the band came back to the stage, Phoenix ripped through “Don’t” and “Rome,” the latter ending with an instrumental vamp as Mars climbed the bleachers to the studio’s second level, taking the band’s perfect pop directly to the fans. One breathless “Good night!” later, and a glorious night of ACL recording was over.
The energy rolled off the stage in waves, and we can’t wait for you to experience it for yourselves when the episode hits PBS this fall. Stay tuned for dates.