Red laser beams began to suddenly flicker across the stage, reflecting off of the massive mirrored backdrop and into the eyes of the packed House of Blues in Orlando, Florida. The hypnotic disco vibe and dance-inducing beat of the opening song for the Phoenix concert held on May 13 starkly contrasted the rustic decor of the rhythm and blues themed central Florida venue, but even the weathered wood infrastructure couldn’t take away from the energy produced by the French group. The introductory track, which hasn’t been released yet, remains untitled, but the repetitive lyric “ti amo” hints that it holds the same name of the anticipated album, Ti Amo (2017), their first album since early 2013.
After an electric welcome to the Ti Amo Tour, Phoenix played right into some older hits like “Lasso,” with the only indicator of a song change being a completely new light sequence projecting itself from behind the band. For the crowd, this was a change of pace from the light and airy melodies that the opener, Whitney, cool-headedly performed with laid back pauses in between. Whitney, a new indie-pop country infused band that emerged from the debris of the Smith Westerns’ disbanding, will be accompanying Phoenix for the first part of their tour. Already making a presence in the music scene, Whitney hails straight from recent performances at Coachella and other various music festivals to promote their debut album. Whitney’s dreamy guitar sequences and slower tempo contrasted with the energetic Phoenix performance, but this distinction only served to elevate the stage presence of the latter instead of clash with their vibrancy.
If it wasn’t enough to get to see some pop classics like “Lisztomania” and “If I Ever Feel Better” performed live, Phoenix enhanced the experience with coordinated light and laser sequences that felt as if they were a show on their own. Each song had a different, striking, psychedelic aesthetic, made possible by numerous patterns, colors, and clips projected on their backdrop as well as on their audience in perfect synchronicity to the setlist. The night was a non-stop jam session, as the band showcased impressive stamina when they played almost the entire show through, only stopping a few times near the end for reasons like a sedated version of “Countdown.” Although the band focused mostly on tracks from Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (2009) and hits from their older discography, the show still felt crisp and new, as Phoenix gave the crowd a balance between new material and fan favorites, and a likely promise for Ti Amo to please when it drops later this year.
Written by Delaney Gomen