Event review by Govinda Narai Srisathorn, edited by Abner Olivieri. Images courtesy of Labyrinth Film l Music, via HAVE YOU HEARD?
Phoenix was originally founded in the 90s between four school friends, originally starting out as a “garage” band in lead vocalist Thomas Mar’s house in the suburbs of Paris. The band later picked up guitarist Chris Mazzalai’s older brother Laurent Brancowitz as the second guitarist and two years after took up the name “Phoenix”. At the tail end of the 90’s the band started releasing singles and charting in several countries but the band did not reach mainstream success until 2004 with their second album “Alphabetical”. Now the Band tours the world, are internationally adored and they are on tour to promote their sixth Album, “Ti Amo” (“I love you” in Italian).
Singha Light Live Series Vol 2.4 – Phoenix, organized by HAVE YOU HEARD?, was the first time the band has played in Thailand. The event was held at Moonstar studio which is very very far away, about a half hour drive from the heart of Sukhumvit and an hour long travel from my neck of the woods, Sathorn. The trip however I would say was worth it. Phoenix is a band that aided in the soundtrack of my high school life with their album ‘Alphabetical’ and from what I saw of the crowd and the fact that the show was sold out, others felt the same way.
Phoenix is a band that aided in the soundtrack of my high school life with their album ‘Alphabetical’ and from what I saw of the crowd and the fact that the show was sold out, others felt the same way
When I arrived at Moonstar Studios after adventuring through the pouring rain I was pleasantly surprised by the place as it was my first time at the venue. The space was pretty huge and set up well and the accommodations were very good, with plenty of space to be sheltered from the rain and beer was reasonably priced at 70 baht a can. External bathrooms housed in RV’s were also brought in and that was also greatly appreciated. The staff present at the event were accommodating and helpful I think HAVE YOU HEARD? did an excellent job with the logistics of the show.
The first band was Polycat. A local Bangkok band touted as being partly responsible for bringing 80’s synth pop inspired music into the mainstream in Thailand, they were a very charming band and their music brought me back to the music I used to listen to as a child in a Thai household, but was nevertheless more modernized and sharpened to match the current generation. Their great set was a much needed break from the rainy endeavor I went through to get there.
… it felt like I was hearing the words of each song from everyone around me
Finally it was time for Phoenix’s set, and it started with applause as if they had already finished their encore, as colorful stripes outlined their silhouettes. The cheers fade as the synthesizers from their song “J-boy” took presence in the room. The show really took off on their third song “Entertainment” and it felt like I was hearing the words of each song from everyone around me. The next notable song was “Sunskrupt”, a nine minute droning medley of synths and guitar with no vocals besides the ending phrase “love like a sunset” backed by the huge sub-woofers brought to the show. The amount of bass proved to be overbearing sometimes but for this particular song it was absolutely perfect. The song was a nice contrast from the Phoenix’s pop rock hits and love songs that made both more enjoyable. After the experimental bout they quickly picked up into the song “Long Distance Call”. After that, Phoenix played the titular song from their new album “Ti ammo” a very 80s funk inspired song that got the crowd moving. A few songs later they closed up the set with their smash hit “if I ever feel better/funk square dance”.
But there was more! As people were starting to clear out the spotlight shined down on Lead Vocalists Thomas Mars as him and one of the guitarists played an acoustic rendition of their song “Countdown” to start off their encore set. A very sweet and heartfelt moment, but it became a bit of a chore to try and look over the audience to see Thomas Mars so I conceded to just listening in. The next song was “Goodbye Soleil” with a seamless transition as the arpeggiated synths launched into the main part of the song and Thomas Mars quickly got onto the stage. “Fior de Lette” was the next song in the list followed by their famous and much loved song “1901”. The crowd was electric and I’m sure it was the song many fans were waiting for all night, but it was still not quite the finale. Thomas Mars waded through the audience as the band broke into the song “Ti Amo Di Piu”, the crowd hoisting him up by his feet. The crowd was cheering and in even with the few complaints I had, Phoenix made us forget that it was raining outside and got us all lost in a world of their music.
Thomas Mars waded through the audience as the band broke into the song “Ti Amo Di Piu”, the crowd hoisting him up by his feet
There’s a lot that can be said about Phoenix. They are an excellent band that’s been around the block a few times and are in a social circle of excellent bands such as Daft Punk and Air that have no doubt inspired their development. They’re rhythmically and sonically tight like a band that’s been playing together since they were in school and well, they have been. They’re sweet, candid, and sincere. Hats off to HAVE YOU HEARD? who brought this event together and I look forward to their future projects. Phoenix later posted a photo of their gig on their Instagram with the descriptive hashtag #LoveAtFirstSight and I can see why, it’s almost as if the audience and the band fell for each other.
In conclusion I felt that the infrastructure for the show was very good, the sound system, lighting and visuals were definitely impressive, the subs were probably the loudest I’ve heard so far in Bangkok yet still quite crisp. The bands were fantastic. I was disappointed that there were only two bands performing as I would’ve liked to see maybe a few of the lesser known acts of Bangkok sharing the stage with Phoenix and Polycat. The sound engineering was noticeably wanting with the vocals coming off muddy and the bass being a bit too loud in comparison to the mix, but as a sound enthusiast and audiophile myself, I am acutely aware of these things but it’s probably not a deal breaker for the average concert goer and not even so much for me. All in all I’d say if HAVE YOU HEARD? is putting on event with your favorite bands, you won’t be disappointed.