Phoenix, Local Natives 6/3/17

(i) lineup

1a. Local Natives
2b. Phoenix

(1a) (Local Natives) setlist

    1. Jellyfish
    2. Wide Eyes
    3. You and I
    4. Airplanes
    5. Colombia
    6. I Saw You Close Your Eyes
    7. Ultralight Beam (Kanye West cover)
    8. Past Lives
    9. Fountain of Youth
    10. Dark Days
    11. Who Knows, Who Cares
    12. Sun Hands

(1b) highlights

  • first time seeing Local Natives who I’ve casually enjoyed since around 2010 when they first hit the scene and man, they were great
  • unexpectedly surprised by not only their stage presence but ability to keep such intimate tracks feel lively and awake in a festival format
  • normally I get annoyed when lead singers decide to crowd surf solely for the sake of making a set suddenly more interesting, but when Taylor Rice came into the crowd twice during the set, it felt so deliberate and genuinely fun
  • their lighting and simply yet pretty stage production was beautiful; it perfectly set the scene for these fellow Angelenos
  • the sun setting around the time their set was ending, and the dust was picking up at their stage – it reminded me of my home in LA in the best way

(1c) lowlights

  • nothing comes to mind – they came out and did exactly what they needed to

(1d) overall thoughts

Local Natives popped up in my life when I was having a difficult time a little less than a decade ago. I always liked them even though they were a bunch of hipsters from Silver Lake. They had goofy mustaches and their music videos looked like Urban Outfitters, sure. But unlike the usual pack of hacks out there, Local Natives also had the tunes.

And after this performance, I realized that they have the presence and performing chops too. Taylor Rice and Kelcey Ayer take turns on lead vocals, guitar, and keyboards, harmonizing in that sweet spot of Beach Boys-inspired and pre-folk explosion that happened because of half-ass bands like Lumineers and Mumford and Sons. Local Natives’ songs are sweet and floaty and fit right in around the Coachella Valley, sure, but they have a lasting effect because they come from some place real. “You and I” practically floats across the stage and dances in the light, and is there a sweeter sunset-y singalong than “Who Knows, Who Cares”? You don’t want to miss these guys live.

 

Bottom line: To the uncultured eye, Local Natives might get lost in the sea of same-y folksy LA-transplants, but they’re so much more than that. Their stage presence, resonating harmonies, and purposeful guitar work really makes them memorable and standout.

 

(2a) (Phoenix’s) setlist

    1. Ti Amo
    2. Lasso
    3. Entertainment
    4. Lisztomania
    5. J-Boy
    6. Long Distance Call
    7. Fences
    8. Try To Be Cool / Drakkar Noir
    9. Lovelife
    10. S.O.S. In Bel Air
    11. Role Model
    12. Girlfriend
    13. Love Like A Sunset Part 1 / Bankrupt! / Love Like A Sunset Part 2
    14. If I Ever Feel Better / Funky Squaredance
    15. Armistice
    16. Rome
    17. Fior di Latte
    18. Meant
    19. 1901
    20. Ti Amo Di Piu

(2b) highlights

  • Phoenix!!!! Those dudes have such class, style, and grace – so damn French
  • yo, I don’t know if Warren Fu is the man responsible, but Phoenix have the dopest stage set-up I’ve seen in recently memory. A giant panel of mirrors is all you need for endless joy and entertainment
  • everyone in Phoenix feels so refined and older than their contemporaries, and I’m so into it
  • have you ever heard a band write so many catchy earworms that don’t make you wanna die? me either.
  • Love. Like. A. Sunset. enough said.

(2c) lowlights

  • they could’ve played for another hour and I would’ve been into it
  • the crowd could’ve and should’ve been bigger – I blame the fact that Childish Gambino was playing the opposite stage at the same time

(2d) overall thoughts

I first encountered Phoenix sometime in late 2005, early 2006. I undoubtedly saw their name in fine print somewhere in NME or Uncut or Mojo or Spin, and wrote their name down as a band to not forget. To me, they were always that “fun, French band,” and then somehow, just when I forgot about them, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix dropped into the world and every car commercial ever was never the same.

When Phoenix got huge, I had no idea how to respond. What happens when a bunch of older dudes finally hit it off with their fifth album? Luckily, Phoenix didn’t completely lose their minds and instead decided to put out pure joy with Ti Amo, and brought all that passion to the stage. Words can’t do their production justice; few bands can so easily meld sound, aesthetics, and production into such a complete package. You watch Phoenix perform one live song on their stage and you suddenly feel like you understand them as a band. New Order is another band that comes to mind that really nails this combination of performance and art, but no one’s doing it like Phoenix today.

There’s few things I respect more than when big bands headline at festivals and skip over the obvious tracks to play deep cuts and objectively “unsuitable” tracks. “Love Like A Sunset” doesn’t belong at any festival but a song never felt so appropriate for a summer night on Randall’s Island than that one. The reds, oranges, and yellows washed over the crowd in real-time and in the reflection of the giant mirror that framed the performers. Yeah, everyone danced when “Lisztomonia” started, but everyone felt when “Love Like A Sunset” hit like a sonic boom.

 

Bottom line: Phoenix are not only clearly impeccable songwriters, but they’ve manage to create the perfect marriage of sound, aesthetic, and art that elevates every performance to another place. Their contemporaries better recognize what Phoenix brings to the world, because – from where I’m sitting – it’s nothing but light.

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