Phoenix Pulls Through for Chicago’s 93XRT

Allstate Arena – Rosemont, IL
93XRT Big Holiday Concert
December 11, 2009

Phoenix Allstate Arena

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


Phoenix Allstate ArenaDeck D’Arcy (bass, keyboard, synthesizer)

Phoenix Allstate ArenaLaurent Brancowitz (guitar)

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!

Phoenix Allstate ArenaChristian Mazzalai (guitar)

Phoenix Allstate ArenaThomas Mars (lead vocals)

Click on thumbnails to enlarge photos:

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  1. Emily says:

    I saw Phoenix at Aragon in September and from what I just read acustic is the better way to see them! I heard on XRT that the show was going to change because the drummer had a family emergency. I think it’s great that the band didn’t want to disappoint the fans. Great write-up Jen! Sidenote: Lighting was a problem when I saw them too. Those pics are amazing considering…

  2. christopher free says:

    your photos are really getting good! cudos

  3. alli says:

    good job, jen. its nice to see they followed thru with the gig and came to the holiday concert. also, it seems more like it should be a treat to get to see them perform acoustically since normally they are a loud rock band.

  4. LaurenY says:

    So jealous you were there! Sounds like an awesome time, and I love these guys and their music. Superb photos, as usual.

  5. Megan says:

    What a great website. The photos are AMAZING!

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