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WERS is bringing you exclusive content from NonCommvention in Philadelphia all week long as we discover the hottest up-and-coming performers and celebrate established artists we love. The first evening of programming was eclectic and exciting, ranging from bluegrass to punk and culminating in one of the larger acts of the evening, French-born group Phoenix promoting their recent release, Bankrupt!
Hitting the beautiful World Cafe stage just before the end of the evening, the four-piece outfit was with a larger touring unit, taking on a drummer and percussionist to support their signature synth-like sound. In keeping with the radio convention, Phoenix brought the hits– after an explosive introduction with latest single “Entertainment”, they launched directly into “Lizstomania”, a big hit from 2009’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Tracks from the new album were used just about as much as anything else, but always arrived cushioned with a surefire hit like “Lasso”, or “Too Young” and “Girlfriend” mashup.
This comes right at the tail end of the group’s North American promotional tour, and Phoenix will soon be headed to the other side of the Atlantic to play out the summer in European music festivals. Bankrupt!, their fifth studio album since professionally debuting in 2000, has enjoyed widespread critical acclaim as a solid addition to the style canon the group has developed, and hearing new tracks like “The Real Thing” sandwiched between old standbys only proved this notion right. Midway through the performance, lead singer Thomas Mars was quick to note the group’ history at World Cafe Live before launching into an anticipated rendition of their biggest hit to date, “1901”.
“We were here during our first album tour,” Mars said with signature shy smile, “and we’re so happy to be back.” Bandmates Deck d’Arcy, Laurent Brancowitz, and Christian Mazzalai nodded in silent agreement, speaking only for backup vocals and bringing the group’s larger than life sound to the stage. Phoenix has been long established as a premiere live act, and perform with the European “less is more” sensibility– Mars isn’t climbing the walls or sinking to his knees when delivering a solid performance, but working within the group and staying in contact with his bandmates to make the sound fans know and love. When it’s Phoenix’s music being performed, how couldn’t it be fun?
NonCommvention is an excellent stomping ground for artists with new material to debut in front of the radio community or are simply emerging acts themselves, and WERS is already well on our way to discovering a few new favorites. When the first night of a festival runs the gamut from bluegrass with Steve Martin and Edie Brickell to the return of Tom Tom Club and directly into Phoenix, you know you’re dealing with something extremely unique. Keep checking the website for more exclusive coverage all week long!