Phoenix takes flight at NYC's Madison Square Garden with surprise guests Daft Punk

Phoenix-and-Daft-Punk-encoreImage Credit: Anna Webber/WireImage.comPhoenix saved the best part of their concert at Madison Square Garden last night for the very end of the final encore. That was when the band’s French frères, Daft Punk, showed up out of nowhere and drove the already-excited crowd into utter frenzy. Clad in their signature robot helmets, the reclusive duo stood silently on stage at a console and began unleashing serious beats. These soon resolved into a version of “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” with Phoenix crunching gamely along, then a tantalizing snippet of “Around the World.” Finally, Daft Punk hung around and added some space-age laser synth buzz to “1901,” Phoenix’s last song of the night. According to Stereogum, it was the first time Daft Punk has performed in public since 2007. That, folks, is how you do a proper encore. (Check out shaky YouTube video of the whole thing at Pitchfork.)

By bringing out Daft Punk, Phoenix tacked on a OMG-awesome flourish to what had already been a very satisfying concert. It’s impressive that the band was able to fill a venue as big as the Garden and seem at home in that cavernous space. At the start of 2009, Phoenix was still best known to Francophiles, MP3-blog readers, and people who pay close attention to the music in commercials. Now they are one of the biggest indie rock acts going. In fact, even that understates the case. Phoenix is still technically “indie” in that Glassnote Records, a boutique independent label, releases their albums in the U.S. — but to see 20,000 dazzled young fans pumping their fists in the air and mouthing every word to anthems like “Lisztomania” and “Run Run Run” last night was to know that these guys have grown into real, live arena rock stars. Don’t be surprised if they’re selling out even huger venues in another year or two.

Earlier in the night, Phoenix’s opening acts represented two very different poles of the indie globe. First up were Wavves with a quick and dirty 15-minute set while the venue was still less than a quarter full. The trio specializes in disheveled pop-punk, where the whole point is to look like they barely bothered rehearsing. “You see me, I don’t care,” lead singer Nathan Williams snarled over and over in opening number “To the Dregs.” There were some sticky melodies lurking under all that attitude, but the crowd didn’t seem to care much, either.

Wavves paled next to what followed, a characteristically virtuoso set from Dirty Projectors. The latter band brought the meticulous instrumental interplay from their albums to vivid life, filling the room with forceful vocal harmonies and fidgety guitar parts. (Shame on the audience for failing to dance to “Stillness is the Move,” though.) Dirty Projectors’ music is arty and weird, and it totally worked in this setting. They’ll probably never have the crossover pop appeal of a band like Phoenix, but kudos to the headliners for bringing them out on tour.

Were any of you at the Garden last night? Seeing Phoenix later in this tour? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

(Follow The Music Mix on Twitter:@EWMusicMix.)

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Comments (16 total) Add your comment
  • Hans M.

    I got my tickets and VIP pass for possible front row in the little Miami Beach Fillmore (the night before Phoenix are playing the even small House of Blues in Orlando). It’s their first visit to south Florida (and it’s sold out). I’m so damn glad I’m not in NYC where indie bands often sell out huge venues. Though that means I miss out on shows by acts like the Clean and Neu!

  • Megan

    I was at the Boston show. They’re style is just so breezy, cool, and infectious. Probably one of the better concerts I’ve ever been to! Just wish I could relive the moment over and over, and I REALLY wish I could’ve been at MSG FOR THAT NIGHT OF EPIC PROPORTIONS.

  • nodnarb

    I would have shat myself.

  • BCA

    Phoenix are always awesome in concert, saw them last April along with Two Door Cinema Club. They were amazing, one of the best if not the best concert I’ve been to.

  • Drew

    I had floor seats last night! A few friends and I took the train from Philly. It was an epic epic night! Phoenix was amazing as usual and when Daft Punk was on stage the house exploded! It was amazing night. A night I will remember for a very long time.

  • kate

    I was at last nights show and it was crazzzzyyy. They were amazing and really filled up MSG. One of the best concerts I’ve been to in a long time!!!

  • Galen

    it was my third time seeing them this year (Coachella & Lollapalooza prior) and went as a bday treat to myself…I saw Daft Punk at Coachella a couple years ago as well…and the croed was already going nuts..when Daft Punk came out???!!! One of the best shows i have ever been to.. EVER.

  • AlysabethInAustin

    Hey, new guy- the song people were mouthing is called,”Rome”, not “Run,run run”…
    It hurts to know people who aren’t even sure of what they’re seeing get to attend a show like this. At least you understand that the Dirty Projectors are,indeed, virtuosos ..and called out the fools who can’t feel “Stillness is the Move”. Sigh. Carry on.

    • Simon Vozick-Levinson

      Hi Alysabeth, thanks for reading! Actually, I was referring to the song “Run Run Run,” from Phoenix’s 2004 album Alphabetical. It’s a great song and album. You should check it out! “Rome,” from their most recent album, is also a cool song. Cheers.

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