Review: Phoenix and Wavves at HOB

By Samir Mathur
Contributing writer
Staff page

First things first: I have to give the House of Blues props for their time management: Doors were at 6.30, first band at 7.30, headliners at 8.30, curfew at 10. I was home in time for The Daily Show. Lovely! I’ve never understood why, on weeknights, many headliners don’t even begin until 10pm. Pardon me for sounding like a curmudgeon, but I’ve gotta be at work in the morning!

Despite the early start time, the room was already packed when Wavves took the stage and played a half-hour of their awesome, more jangly-than-tinny indie rock, that seemed to get some heads bopping. I wonder what it must be like for Wavves, whose music is very low-key and elementary, to play these huge venues with Phoenix. There was a young couple close to the front, clearly there to see the support band, that sang along loudly to every word. I thought that was very sweet. Newer songs like ‘Post Acid’, ‘Idiot’ and ‘King of the Beach’ sat nicely alongside the older favourite ‘So Bored’, and it was a job well done.

In my preview last week, I mentioned that this tour was part of a global victory lap for Phoenix, who have legitimately blown up over the last year. By now they’ve got this stage show perfected, and they delivered a very polished, very impressive set. Thomas Mars milked the applause between songs, and it’s hard to begrudge him that. It’s incredibly rare to see a band finally become big with their fourth record, ten years into their career. I can’t think of too many others. (The National? Black Eyed Peas?).

Sure enough, the band wheeled out every song from ‘Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix’, and every word was bellowed back at them. Of course, the singles ‘Lisztomania’ and ‘1901’, played at the beginning and end of the set respectively, made everyone go bananas, but how about some recognition for ‘Armistice’? Man, that song is awesome. The band played the first half of ‘Love Like a Sunset’ behind a curtain, allowing their insane lights display to do the work. And for a lovely quiet version of ‘Countdown’, the two guitarists played from within the audience. As for the deeper cuts, they played a beefed-up ‘If I Ever Feel Better’, with much heavier guitars, which was an interesting twist on an old classic. And they busted out ‘Too Young’ – not always a given – a song older than some of my cousins.

It was a joy to see a band that still loves playing a set that they’ve been doing for at least two years (next stop: South America). The crowd loved them, they loved the crowd. Hopefully they’ll come back to Orlando on their next global excursion.

Lisztomania / Lasso / Long Distance Call / Fences / Girlfriend / Armistice / North /Love Like A Sunset / Too Young /Rally / Rome / Funky Squaredance

Countdown / La Fille Aux Cheveux Clairs / If I Ever Feel Better / Consolation Prizes / 1901