As panicked drivers clung to their steering wheels in face of the first serious snowflakes of the season, I made my way to First Avenue Saturday night to see Phosphorescent.
The opener Liz Cooper and the Stampede came as a pleasant surprise to me (but not to the crowd that had arrived early to catch her). The band calls Nashville home and if you listen closely you can catch some of the area’s influence. On their 2018 album “Window Flowers” they are clearer, but live? Oh boy! Live the 60s and 70s came calling in force. Song got drawn out into longer jams that had a distinct Doors vibe and took over First Avenue. I was far from alone in my approval. Looking at the First Ave staff side stage, heads were nodding with the music, including the stage manager’s Conrad. If your band manages the approval of the guy who defines “Been there, Done that” for live music in the Twin Cities, you’re doing something right.
While you’re at it, check out Liz Cooper’s video for “Mountain Man” recorded of all places at an Aldi HERE
Matthew Houck, the brains and permanent member of Phosphorescent has been around the music scene for close to 20 years and his latest album’s title “C’est la vie” was prominently worked into merch and stage decorations. After short instrumental intro he launched the set into his current single “New Birth in New England”. So anyone who wandered into this show by accident got a clue what he was about. The set list was heavy on the last album but wove some of his older songs in as well.
He stumbled over the complex lyrics of “My Dove, My Lamb” with as good an excuse as I’ve heard coming from stage “I just totally fucking forgot where I was for a moment there.” My favorite of the set was “The Quotidian Beasts”, not only because I got to look out the definition of Quotidian (and everyday occurrence) but it plunged First Ave into a web of Houck’s voice, guitar and smoke.