Concert Review | Phoenix at The Pageant in St. Louis

The way I look at it, a concert can be a great experience because of so many things. Some of these things have nothing to do with the music you came to hear or the band/artist you came to watch. Sometimes, it can have everything to do with where you’re sitting/standing, who you’re with, or what kind of mood you’re in. You know, those things.

Things that were important at the Phoenix show at The Pageant last Monday. I was standing in pit, with a group of friends, and we were more or less shoulder to shoulder with a sold-out audience. Sometimes, this can be a bit annoying. On Monday, it turned out to be a perfect spot.

Phoenix is a band you need to see in front of you, with eyes wide open, with your hands to the sky. You shouldn’t be sitting; you should be moving, just a bit, if not a lot, for moments when they open up with “Lisztomania,’ and follow it up with a frenzied “Lasso,” like they did at The Pageant.

You need to be close enough to witness their extraordinary light show, how it affects the music, and how it captures drummer Thomas Hedlund’s impassioned greatness: his uncanny movements, his succinct expressions, and obvious drive. You need to be close enough to feel how hard he’s working his ass off.

Sure, their set was short (75 minutes or so). But I’ve seen three hour shows that bored the hell out of me, ones that have been filled with wasted time, sapping any kind of momentum that could have existed. Phoenix thrives on momentum; they know exactly what they want to do, and how they want to do it. I have not seen a more precise performance this year.

Case in point: midway through their set, a white curtain dropped from the rafters to show only band members’ silhouettes. They were performing the mostly instrumental “Love Like A Sunset,” giving us an odd peak of their creative process. But it was beautifully planned, absent of any kind of self indulgence or call for fame.

Of course, they iced their Pageant performance with an electric version of “1901,” which featured a slight reprise where lead singer Thomas Mars walked along the ledges that surrounded the pit. In full rock star fashion, Mars had the crowd body surf him back to his home — the stage — where the lights were still shining and where energy still oozed. It could have lasted for hours.

But, that was it. 75 minutes of ballistic bliss, not a minute wasted by a French band who will surely outgrow venues like The Pageant very soon. Here’s hoping we can all stay close and feel their energy, no matter how big the stage gets.

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