For the first of two holiday concerts sponsored by 101.9 WRXP, the radio station booked French dance-rock outfit Phoenix to headline the Hammerstein Ballroom at Manhattan Center Studios. Still touring in support of their latest album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, the year’s biggest breakout rock act was joined by a handful of excellent acts on a rainy Wednesday evening.
Manchester Orchestra began the evening with “Pride” from their latest album, Mean Everything to Nothing, and the Atlanta five-piece stuck to that 2009 effort for the rest of their set. Frontman Andy Hull sounded great, and the rest of the band clicked together for an incredibly strong performance to a fairly unreceptive crowd. The full set:
I’ve Got Friends
Shake It Out
Everything To Nothing
California piano-rockers Jack’s Mannequin followed, beginning with three cuts from their 2005 debut, Everything in Transit. “La La Lie” had the crowd in each others’ arms, swaying during its harmonica solo; “Kill the Messenger” found frontman Andrew McMahon name-checking the rain-soaked Manhattan crowd in an extended bridge: “Tonight I watched the rain pour down on New York City..”.
The Glass Passenger‘s “The Resolution” was strong, but the crowd’s biggest reaction came from “The Mixed Tape”, which had most of the audience at least humming along. Things slowed down with current single “Swim” before picking up again with “Spinning” and “Dark Blue”. The fairly abrasive “Bloodshot” closed the band’s extremely solid nine-song set:
La La Lie
Kill the Messenger
The Mixed Tape
Passion Pit, easily capable of headlining Hammerstein themselves, received a gigantic response from the plethora of L-train hipsters posted throughout the crowd. Throwing in older cuts from their 2008 effort, Chunk of Change EP, the band stuck mostly to their debut full-length, 2009’s Manners. “Little Secrets” was not just one of the band’s strongest moments but indeed one of the night’s; the entire crowd jumped and danced around to the song’s infectious chorus.
Since forming in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just two years ago, the indie/dance-rock quintet has exploded out of the indie community and into mainstream radio on strength of hook-heavy songs like “Sleepyhead” and the aforementioned “Little Secrets”. The band’s biggest single, “The Reeling”, began with a shaky synthesized riff that exploded into a full-blown dance number, closing the set with the audience singing “oh no, oh no.” The full set:
I’ve Got Your Number
Let Your Love Grow Tall
To Kingdom Come
Smile Upon Me
If “Lisztomania” is a valid term to describe the hysteria surrounding Hungarian virtuoso Franz Liszt, then one may consider coining a similar term for Phoenix, as the band opened with that very song to a crowd of at least five-thousand screaming fans. “Long Distance Call”, from the bands third studio album, It’s Never Been Like That, followed. After a few staples (the rhythmic “Lasso” and the groovy “Fences”) from their stellar 2009 effort, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, the band dug back to the turn of the century with “If I Ever Feel Better”, the first of two songs from 2000’s United to make the setlist.
Laurent Brancowitz and Christian Mazzalai traded riffs during an intense performance of “Love Like a Sunset”, and, aside from “Countdown”, the band tackled all of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, closing with “Rome” and hit single “1901”. Frontman Thomas Mars jumped into the crowd for the band’s final moments, inducing a Phoenixmania of girls rushing to touch the French singer. Safely on stage, the rhythm section (anchored by drummer Thomas Hedlund and bassist Deck D’Arcy) provided keyboardist Robin Coudert with a steady beat to lay the song’s instantly recognizable fuzzy synth riffs. The full set:
Long Distance Call
If I Ever Feel Better
Love Like a Sunset Pt. I
Love Like a Sunset Pt. II
By midnight the dance party had ended, bringing 101.9 WRXP’s holiday celebration to a close. With solid performances from each of the opening bands and a gigantic performance from headliner Phoenix, the night was a resounding success. Hordes of fans continued to validate Phoenixmania at the merch table, while the rest of the crowd walked into the New York City streets. Soaked with sweat, and soon to be soaked with a torrential downpour, the general consensus of the night could be easily determined by glancing at the thousands.
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