By Kelly Clausen
If you know Beck and Phoenix, you know they are party bands. You can’t help but boogie while listening to “Devil’s Haircut” by Beck or Phoenix’s “Lisztomania”. The songs command you to dance. This year, they join forces and embark on a nationwide tour promoting the fun in the sun vibes on Summer Odyssey 2023. Tonight, they played Chicago’s lakefront venue Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island.
The night started early with Vermont Indie Rockers, Sir Chloe. Who took the stage before the daylight ended setting the scene for the main acts to follow.
Of the dual headlining acts, tonight, Phoenix opened for Beck. The Versailles France based neo synth pop band assembled on the newly built stage which took the shape of a giant TV set or picture frame. The back drop being massive video screens that projected forest scenes, fractals, colors and shapes all while giving the appearance the backing back was floating in mid air, all while Thomas Mars led the bands hits on vocals.
Phoenix kicked off the set with their breakthrough hit, “Lisztomania” leaving those who might be wondering who the band was no doubt as this song has been played in everything from movies, TV commercials and radio waves for over a decade. Opening track off their massive hit record, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.
They continued on playing through 15 songs that included deep cuts and more hits like, “Lasso”, “Sunskrupt!” and “1901” until they hit the end with “Identical” and parted the stage for Beck’s appearance.
During a slight break between bands, the stage crew came out to assemble even more video wall pieces. By 9PM, the lights went out, the blue moon was rising above the lake to our backs, and the first few notes from Beck rang out as “Devils Haircut” kicked off his set.
The video wall for Beck was amazing. The frame, backwall and fill all completed a giant LED backdrop that created multiple sets like, being on the streets of Japan, under a viaduct in an urban city, beach scenes, neon screen saver effects from the 90’s and ending with a wall of stacked TV’s that end up on fire and burning the set down.
On this tour, Beck brought the hits. We heard classics from way back including, “Mixed Bizness”, The New Pollution”, “Girl”, “Nicotine & Gravy”, “Gamma Ray”, “Dreams” “Loser” and “E-Pro”. We even got a track off his second album, “Stereopathetic Soulmanure”, “One Foot In The Grave“. After the fire wall burned down the set, Beck returned for an encore and some friends from Phoenix and did their summer hit, “Odyssey” and “Where It’s At” the song that propelled Beck into lo-fi indie super-stardom in the mid 90’s.
Becks music is one thing, his visuals another, but when you add that all together while watching his moves, you get the full party picture. You can see and hear his influences from soul to hip-hop and folk to rock. He still moves like Micheal Jackson and James Brown. He writes like Prince and Jeff Tweedy with a mix of the Beastie Boys. He still knows how to keep the vibe up and the fans pumped 30 years into his career.
Before the show ended, Beck introduced his band and what we soon learned with that many of his bandmates have been with him for many, many years including his longtime drummer, Joey Waronker and bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen who have been with him for over 20 years.
For more on Beck & Phoenix Summer Odyssey tour, click here
For photos from the show, click here