Written by Marimar Toledo
If there are two things I always wish I could remember, it’s how I met certain friends of mine and where I was the first time I heard a band I love. I suck at remembering these things but still cherish the relationships I have with these people and the music. Even though I don’t perfectly remember how I first discovered Whitney or Phoenix, I know both of them were so addicting I couldn’t stop listening to them soon after.
Starting off their tour down south, Phoenix headed up to Orlando’s House of Blues with opening band Whitney for a show full of lovely commotion, trippy mirrors and lights, and lots of sweaty, grooving bodies. Located inside Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs, I knew getting to HOB was going to be a mission in itself with crying children and tourists all abound. My friend (who solely came for Whitney) and I headed down to a flux of aforementioned people and made our way to the line wrapping around HOB and as time passed by, another friend joined us in line and it started to move soon after.
Going inside, I always look for the best spot for my short height and in this venue, it just happens to be next to the bar. So we all got some dancing juices inside of us, had more friends join and at last a band I had been obsessively listening to came out. Okay, maybe not obsessively but I definitely have chanted the last lyrics to Whitney’s “Follow” on a daily basis since I first heard it.
The seven Chicago boys came out looking so eased and a bit serious but immediately smiled as they headed to their instruments, looked at the crowd and began to jam. It felt comfortable with them up on stage as if we were overlooking one of their jam sessions. Lead singer/drummer Julian Ehrlich stopped after the first track kind of confused as to whether he was inside of Disney or not. He was playing The Legend of Zelda : Breath of the Wild all the way up from Miami after all. The indie rock band glided from song to song with such ease constantly smiling and looking at one another. After one song even, Julian stood from his drum set to kiss. You can just tell they have great times together and truly enjoy the music they play.
From “Golden Days” which makes me feel like I’m in The Beatles era I sometimes wish I was in to “Dave’s Song”, written for Ehrlich’s late grandfather, the soft indie music isn’t overly complicated music but all so beautifully composed. Even Elton John took note around the end of 2016 and interviewed the newly formed band for The New York Times. Their music is easy to sing along to and even features horns which I feel always adds an impeccable sound to songs. The blaring horn in what sounds like a victory song, although about death, in “Follow” made me emotional as well as the groovy guitar lines with their final performed song, “No Woman.” Singing about breakups yet making me feel all fuzzy lovey-dovey inside, I can’t wait to see them again and for what the future holds for this nostalgic, yet new band.
Not a long wait after, which usually is after an opening band, the beautiful French men many of us have loved over the years of being indie rock obsessed came on stage. Truly, I never thought I’d see Phoenix and was so ecstatic the moment I saw a Facebook event of theirs pop up.
I felt blessed in a euphoria that I hadn’t experienced in such a long time. And no, it wasn’t the shitty beer talking. With spastic lights flashing neon colours milliseconds after another and ever so groovy bass lines, we were all having the times of our lives.
Admittedly, I usually suck at remembering lyrics but found myself spewing perfect lyrics back to the stage which I think is pretty funny considering this is the band’s second language anyways. Besides their unique sound, their lyrics are more poetic and honest than others talking about love, friendships, hard times and joy. They are like sonnets which go on and on saying things that don’t seem like they have to do with one another but actually perfectly mend well making more sense than simpler songs.
Playing their latest single, “J-Boy” off of their upcoming album Ti Amo, I knew this was one of their best dance jams and now can’t stop thinking what this new album is going to be like. I mean Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix kind of changed my life and the indie game back in 2009 with a perfect lineup of songs from beginning to end. Then later in 2013, Bankrupt! had a more serious tone that still made people shake their peaches off on dance floors with songs like “Trying to be Cool.”
Thomas Mars moved so easily throughout the stage singing like an angel and barely even drinking water throughout song breaks which I found miraculous. Brothers Laurent Brancowitz and Christian Mazzalai both on opposite sides of the stage gave out wavy guitar lines which injected into our souls pure joy along with bassist Deck D’arcys’ badass deep tones.
The lights went along with each track including an amazing shadow takeover during “Love Like a Sunset”, where Mars laid down on stage as the stage went from all white to dripping into black darkness. It felt galactic and fantastic as the interlude track made the audience look like it was just blasted into space.
Getting back down to earth, they played some of their most famous hits like “1901” and one of my favourite songs ever to date, “If I Ever Feel Better” which transitioned into “Funky squaredance” although they had to stop and perform it a second time due to one of the two drummers sets malfunctioning. No one cared of course because while the whole malfunction happened, Mars and the two brother guitarists played a gorgeous serenade down from the stage to fans.
These guys are true rock stars who haven’t let their success as artists get to their heads and still execute beautiful shows for their loving fans. I’ll always admire them for inspiring other indie bands, making gorgeous music and for just being their genuine OG selves up on stage.