Phosphorescent celebrated ‘C’est La Vie’ w/ 2 small NYC shows (pics, video, setlist)
Phosphorescent released his great new album (and first in five years) C'est La Vie on Friday (read our review), and he celebrated with two shows at NYC's Public Arts that same day. One was a day show for Pitchfork Live that streamed live (and has since been archived -- watch below) and the other was a semi-secret night show. We caught the night show, which saw Phosphorescent performing the entire new album start to finish (minus the instrumental tracks that bookend the album) and ending with the now-classic "Song For Zula" off 2013's Muchacho before returning for an encore.
These days, main member Matthew Houck is joined by two keyboard players, a drummer, a second percussionist, a guitarist, and a bassist, and most members sing, which really made the new album's big choruses sound even bigger. Matthew mentioned on stage that it was only their second or third time performing most of these songs, but it was clear that the live band has already mastered them, and things should only sound even better on their upcoming tour. Matthew opened with a version of "C'est La Vie No.2" that was a little more intimate than the bouncier album version, with just Matthew gently strumming guitar chords and one of his keyboardists providing atmosphere. Otherwise, Matthew and his band do a faithful recreation of all of the album's layers and embellishments, even down to the vocoder on "Christmas Down Under." Some songs, like the droning, psychedelic "Around The Horn" which sounds sort of like a mix between krautrock and Americana, sounded even grander live. When they got to the last chorus of that song, and almost the entire band was belting along, it felt larger than life. Matthew also had a little fun given the intimate environment of this show, and walked off stage during "These Rocks," parting the crowd down the middle, and dancing with some willing audience members in the open space. The crowd was all smiles during that part, and they also gave supportive cheers during a handful of the other new songs. As the album had just come out, the only time you really heard much singing along was during singles "New Birth In New England" and "Christmas Down Under," but it seemed like most people in the room were already receptive to the rest of the album too.
Phosphorescent will play NYC again at the larger Brooklyn Steel on December 13 with Liz Cooper & The Stampede opening (tickets). Watch the archived Pitchfork Live video of the early show below and check out pictures of the late show in the gallery above.
photos by P Squared