Beck and Phoenix team up to play in Austin


At first glance, the two separate artists Beck and Phoenix look like vastly different bands.

Phoenix is a flashy five-piece band from France that rose to fame during the new rock revival scene of the early 2000s. Their music is accessible to almost any generation with an ever-changing discography that’s grounded by their classic songs, “Listomania” and “1901”, songs from their fifth studio album “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” which is arguably one of the greatest albums of all time.

Although he rose to prominence at relatively the same time, Beck inhabits another spectrum of the music world with his diverse array of post-punk psychedelic rock hits that seem to appease a crowd of slightly older music fans, mostly middle-aged moms who enjoy swaying in a crowd with an IPA in hand.

Even through these differences, Beck and Phoenix have something in common: they’re not relevant anymore. Phoenix’s latest album, “Alpha Zulu”, went relatively unnoticed by music fans and personally, I thought it was too much of a departure from their classic sound. On the other end, Beck has released a huge and impressive arrangement of music that shows his true talent but his fame has been slowly wearing away since his hit song “Loser”. In an effort to recuperate some fame, Phoenix and Beck teamed up for an international tour aptly titled: “ Beck and Phoenix, Summer Odyssey.” Along with this, they hastily put together a mediocre single that does not do justice to either of the respective artists. 

On August 22, the Summer Odyssey tour was brought to Austin’s own Moody Center on one of the last stops of their summer-long tour. Singer and songwriter Weyes Blood joined them to play before the show started. Her portion of the show was stirring and impressive as she brought a unique musical style and atmosphere to the stage. I can only describe her music as a blend of Lana Del Ray and the Mamas & the Papas. After a relatively long intermission, Phoenix came on stage kicking off their set with “Lisztomania”. 

For the next hour and fifteen minutes, Phoenix played one of the most electric and musically impressive live shows I have ever seen. All five members of the band had so much vitality and passion that blended perfectly with their songs. The majority of the songs played were from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a relatively chill and quiet album but their on-stage performance was loud and almost rock-like. A lot of this can be attributed to their touring drummer Thomas Hedlund who put a lot of energy and a bit of head-banging into their set list. Interestingly enough, Thomas isn’t a formal member of Phoenix and only tours with them which might explain why the drumming was different in the show. Phoenix also had wonderfully creative background set design that changed accordingly every time they played a song from a respective album and had some very imaginative computer design. Overall, Phoenix did their job and they did it well, the enthusiasm in the crowd was unmatched and you could tell the fans who were only there for Beck enjoyed their show as they did some intense swaying and cheering. 

When Beck came on stage that’s when the cracks started to show. After nearly two hours of Phoenix and Weyes Blood, I was done, It was 10 p.m. on a Tuesday and we were expected to sit in the Moody Center for another two hours. Although there were a handful of intoxicated moms and beer belly touting Beck superfans up and about dancing, I could tell most of the audience was stricken for energy. For the rest of Beck’s set, he undoubtedly portrayed his musical talent and prowess but it just wasn’t the right time or place, and I would no doubt enjoy his show tenfold if it was completely separate from Phoenix. 

That’s what the problem was for the show, Beck’s and Phoenix’s fan bases are different. I saw Beck fans purposely show up directly after Phoenix’s set, and I saw Phoenix fans leave before Beck came on. Although both artists had sizable crowds you could tell the crowds were separate. The other issue occurs from the nature of Beck’s music. He has 14 studio albums to date and really only one of his songs was a chart-topping hit. He is undoubtedly musically famous but to be a Beck fan means to BE a Beck fan in order to truly recognize any of the songs he played for his set. Beck’s music, showmanship, and set design were amazing but I just was not in the right state to enjoy it. In the end, I feel for both Beck and Phoenix, they both have waning relevance, and in order to capitalize on their dwindling success they had to team up with each other to get mixed results. Personally, I think they should’ve never toured together and just played at separate smaller venues respectively. If you end up getting a chance to catch one of the future shows I would recommend it but maybe bring an energy drink and brush up on your Beck knowledge.

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