Phoenix used to strike us as a little too Euro twee, the kind of music that got played at the social gatherings of Baltic models. (Yes, we were bitter about never getting invited.) But then they released Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix earlier this year, and goddamn it if it doesn’t put us in a bust-out good mood every time we hear it, despite the fact that the song “1901” is used in a Cadillac commercial that plays like 50 times during every Giants game. Amazingly, we still enjoy that song. And our love for the band got kicked into the stratosphere with their “secret” show at the P.C. Richards Theater in Tribeca, sponsored by a mobile app called IHeartRadio.
It was a tiny, packed room, with a heavy representation of industry people — not usually the best ingredient for a good time. Indeed, there were a few too many dudes standing around with their hands jammed into their jeans. But the band played a six-song, 30-minute set that was just about perfect, adding a heavy dose of garage-rock vigor to their sweet, frothy pop. If we were starting a band, we’d hire that awesome drummer who bopped around like a giddy teenager while still laying down some sick beats. And actually, we’d take that lead guitarist, too. The highlights were the kick-ass “Lasso” and a gorgeous version of “Playground Love,” singer Thomas Mars’s collaboration with Air. Even closing the set with the Cadillac jingle worked. We guess that if we’d paid money to be there, the brevity would have been disappointing, but we wish more rock shows would be like this: quick, intense, and out in the night. We even went home and downloaded that app, out of gratitude. And why not? It was free, too.