For everyone who attended 94/7's December To Remember, there was probably a high-water mark - that one band or concert that you'll remember well into 2014. For some people, it might have been The Neighbourhood's killer opening-night show; for others, it might have been Lorde's Portland debut or Fitz and The Tantrum's Saturday Night Special. But for many Portlanders (myself included), the high point of December To Remember was Phoenix's show on Tuesday night.
As December To Remember entered its home stretch, Portland band Dresses took to the stage to warm up the crowd prior to Phoenix's set. Falling somewhere on the musical spectrum between Of Monsters and Men and Joanna Newsom, the duo's quirky style and predilection for unusual song covers has been generating a decent amount of buzz, both locally and nationally. Although their rendition of Foster The People's "Houdini" fell a little flat live, the twosome killed it on their original material, especially "Blew My Mind." (Dresses is also one of the only Dec2Rem bands to have already announced an encore show - they'll be playing at The White Eagle on February 1.)
"We're from, uh, here." Dresses
Although most of the bands at December To Remember could boast sold-out crowds and screaming fans, I don't think any of them could really match Phoenix's stage presence. While most bands tend to have an ebb-and-flow to their concerts, stringing along the crowd with the promise of hearing their favorite tracks at the end of the show, the French rockers opted to start strong and just never let up - playing two of their bigger hits, "Entertainment" and "Lisztomania" within the opening minutes of their show. Having whipped the crowd into a screaming frenzy in the first 10 minutes, the band amazingly was able to keep the crowd's energy at the same level for the rest of their set - hitting peaks when they played "Trying To Be Cool" and "1901." Perhaps the most epic moment of the show came at the end, though, when lead singer Thomas Mars leaped offstage and crowd-surfed during the band's encore, singing the entire time. While this would've been impressive enough, Thomas took it a step further (literally) when he stood up in the middle of the crowd, supported atop the hands of his screaming fans. It doesn't get much more rock n' roll than that.
Thomas Mars of Phoenix singing while standing ON TOP of the crowd at Crystal Ballroom. Yes, seriously.