I finally made amends with Phoenix last night....
Having been a fan of the group for quite a few years I found myself exhausted with them by the time they played Stubb's for what felt like the 100th time a couple of years ago and if I had to listen to "1901" one more time I probably would have gone crazy. I guess it's pretty cliche but their success kind of soured me. Going into the show I was excited but not excited as you are supposed to be when seeing such a good band in such an intimate setting.
From the moment they opened with "Entertainment" you could tell that it was going to be a special performance. They wasted no time from there moving into material from their breakthrough, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, with Lasso, Lisztomania and Fences, which even I appreciated after taking a time away from listening.
The band was energetic and bold throughout the evening declaring “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, 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.”
There were instrumentals that were riveting and several occasions where lead singer Thomas Mars ran into the crowd that made not only for an amazing performance but what I can only expect will be very interesting television. By the time they finished up with "Rome", Mars had climbed the rafters onto the second floor of ACL Live and was thanking everyone he came in contact with.
I have to admit that I would have never guessed that it would be one my favorite ACL tapings but that is exactly what it was. In terms of hugely successful "pop" bands we can (and often do) so much worse than Phoenix.