Phoenix drench the Varsity Theater in sweat and pure joy

Categories: Concert Review
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Photos by Jon Behm, click here for the slideshow

My friend Kyle was theorizing that yesterday's sold-out Phoenix show at the Varsity might have been the hottest ticket of the summer -- and he wasn't referring to the sweltering temperature inside the packed club. For those who didn't secure their tickets far in advance, entry into the show last night was hard to come by; even the scalpers on the street outside the theater were begging passers-by for tickets to sell to the group of people lingering outside the club.

The difficulties getting into the show were for good reason: Phoenix delivered an intense, highly energetic show that got the crowd bouncing despite the stifling heat inside the venue. Next time they return to town, there's no doubt that they could easily fill the Main Room at First Avenue -- something that I hope they do soon.

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With only two bands on the bill, it gave Phoenix plenty of room to stretch out their set, and they played most of the tracks off of this year's breakout album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, as well as material from their previous records. Though the poppy, synth-heavy numbers on the new album got the audience dancing, the band really shined on some of their older songs ("Funky Square Dance," and especially "Run Run Run") when they expanded into epic guitar breaks, rattling feedback, and funkier beats.

And of course, there's nothing like waiting an entire set for a band to play your favorite song, finally to be rewarded. When I started delving into Phoenix's back catalog a while back, I fell in love with the song "If I Ever Feel Better" from their first album, 2000's United. The popping bass part, disco beat, and distorted vocal melodies reminded me simultaneously of Jamiroquai and Minneapolis's own Estate, and it quickly became my favorite song to play, well, all the time. So when Phoenix finished their regular set and left the stage, my heart sunk at the idea that they might not play it live. But sure enough, they returned to play the song in their encore, and it made the sweat-drenched crowd bounce up and down like maniacs (ok, maybe that was just me).

The band finished things off with two different renditions of their latest hit, "1901," with lead singer Thomas Mars jumping into the crowd for the remixed version of the song to wriggle around with the soaking wet crowd.

Phoenix set list:

Long Distance Call
Consolation Prizes
Napolean Says
Funky Square Dance
Love Like a Sunset (Parts I and II)
Run Run Run
Too Young
Sometimes in the Fall

If I Ever Feel Better
1901 (remix)

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