Allstate Arena – Rosemont, IL
93XRT Big Holiday Concert
December 11, 2009
Upon arriving at the 93XRT Big Holiday Concert, I discovered that the band I came to see, hear, photograph, and review (Phoenix) was only going to be playing three songs…maybe four if the group felt up to the task. Originally scheduled to play for a solid 60 minutes, Phoenix decided to cut their hour-long headlining set to just 15 minutes. Apparently, the band’s drummer suffered a death in the family and could not play the 93XRT holiday radio show this past weekend in Chicago. The guys had to make an executive decision regarding their drummer’s sudden family emergency and whether or not to cancel their much anticipated performance alongside Pete Yorn and The Flaming Lips. Understandably, without a drummer it would be extremely difficult to play an entire set. Therefore, the guys chose to play an intimate acoustic set for their fans, consisting of four songs, which is saying something about the work ethic of these four French alternative indie rockers.
More photos of Phoenix after the jump…
Set List / Chicago
Everything Is Everything
One Time Too Many
The quartet hailing from Versailles, France lined up alongside one another front and center at the edge of the stage. From left to right was guitarist Laurent Brancowitz, lead singer Thomas Mars, bassist/keyboardist Deck D’Arcy, and guitarist Christian Mazzalai. “We wanted to perform our songs the way we originally write them,” explained Phoenix vocalist Thomas Mars. “We are going to play an intimate acoustic set for you all tonight,” exclaimed Mars to a surprised, shocked, and delighted crowd. Looking back, I believe the guys did good with the unfavorable predicament they were in. However, I’m not sure this performance was realistically all that small and intimate. I mean, the Allstate Arena holds 18,000 when hosting a sold out show and the 93XRT Big Holiday Concert fell just shy of selling out the space.
Moments before photographing Phoenix, I found myself privy to a 93XRT staff member discussing the dilemma that his boss was forced to deal with at the 11th hour. As it turns out, the radio station’s program director placed a call to the band and their management pleading for the guys not to cancel the gig. After all, Phoenix is truly one of the music scene’s “It” bands of the year and was billed as a headliner for 93XRT’s Big Holiday Concert. WXRT was expecting the band to draw quite a large crowd; almost equal to that of The Flaming Lips.
Unfortunately for myself and fellow photographers, Phoenix’s small intimate acoustic set meant that any previously programmed lighting had to be altered. With insanely bright spot lights coming from above and behind the four band members, it was a challenge to get a few decent shots of the guys. I apologize in advance for the fact that the faces of Phoenix may not be as clear and defined as I had hoped. Due to this being an arena show, I was prepared for fantastic illumination highlighting each person playing a vital role in Phoenix. Well, that was not the case last Friday night. Admittedly, I was slightly disappointed that my first experience witnessing Phoenix live in concert was only four songs and 15 minutes long. Ah, that’s life I guess… Enjoy the photos nonetheless!
Click on thumbnails to enlarge photos: