Phosphorescent & Caveman Live In Atlanta
On an incredibly chilly (by southern U.S. standards at least) Atlanta evening last month I had the privilege of attending the sold out show at Atlanta’s Center Stage with Brooklyn bands Phosphorescent and Caveman. I’m a devotee of each group and knew to expect a couple of very strong sets, but I used the phrase “life affirming” more than once this evening folks. When I tell people I’m blessed to get to write about and cover music, evenings like this are what I’m speaking of. Truly an amazing evening celebrating the joyous occasion that seeing live music can turn into.
Caveman opened the night and got things off to a fantastic start, deftly ripping through a fantastic set. Each time I see Caveman they’ve left me impressed, and they were incredibly on point tonight. The band’s pulsating, dreamy songs get more of a blown-out, rambunctious, rock n’ roll treatment live and it’s impossible not to be beguiled. Caveman’s continued maturation will only heighten the band’s powers, which at this point are already quite considerable.
Caveman – “Old Friend”, live in Atlanta
Frontman Matthew Iwanusa and guitarist Jimmy Carbonetti have been playing together since high school and it shows, as both exude a relaxed confidence onstage that’s palpable. When performing, Caveman looks like they know better than anyone how good they sound, and they’re having the time of their lives doing it. Both bands emanate a certain joyous confidence onstage and in the often cynical-because-it’s-cool world of indie rock, it’s refreshing and contagious
Caveman – “Shut You Down”:
The setlist was spread evenly between the band’s head-turning debut, Coco Beware, and last year’s excellent Caveman and Caveman quite literally killed each and every performance. As someone who sees 2-3 shows a week, it’s pretty difficult for me to be completely taken aback by a live performance from a band I’m familiar with, but Caveman absolutely achieved that. Jaw-droppingly good folks. Caveman is currently on tour with Florida’s excellent upstarts Roadkill Ghost Choir, check out their website for tour dates and further info right here.
I’d seen Phosphorescent in Denver, Brooklyn and Atlanta in the last ten months leading up to the show (I get around) and it’s been amazing to watch explosion of momentum the band has gained in that time touring behind their brilliant breakthrough record Muchacho. Right away it was apparent that this set was going to be different however, the stagehands setting up the instruments also began place white flowers and votive candles around the stage and lighting incense. It was an eerie and beautiful scene that recalled a religious ceremony of some sort, which is fitting setting for the rock n’ roll revival that followed.
By the time Phosphorescent’s Matthew Houck stepped out onto the darkened and smokey stage wearing his super-fresh Nudie Suit he sported in the “Right On/Ride On” video, the eerie, otherworldly church vibe couldn’t have been higher. A Cathedral for sinners. A gorgeous and surreal dream absolutely befitting the celestial, ghostly atmospherics of Phosphorescent’s music.
Phosphorescent – “Right On/Ride On” live in Atlanta:
The live arrangements for most of the tunes was a bit looser and varied from the other recent shows I’ve seen. “Wolves” received a full band arrangement this time around, whereas at each previous four shows I’d seen in the last year it was performed as an astonishing and haunting solo number by Houck. Instead the Atlanta crowd was treated to a solo performance of another classic off of 2007’s Pride, “Cocaine Lights”, and both versions were top notch.
Phosphorescent – “Tell Me Baby (Have You Had Enough)” live in Atlanta:
Phosphorescent has always sounded like music you’d listen to while speeding on a dusty desert highway at night, enroute to Joshua Tree to set fire to Gram Parson’s corpse. Muchacho was such a breakthrough for Houck because he was able to make his sound a bit more accessible while still retaining it’s original ghostly brilliance that resonates so deeply with people. It’s the culmination of a lot of work on behalf of Houck, and it’s satisfying to see him seemingly enjoying it so much. Despite the crushing loneliness at the heart of some of Houck’s best songs, he radiates warmth and intelligent southern charm onstage. When surrounded by all the candles, flowers and smokey incense, the general vibe of the show was one of a spooky country seance at some fantastically eccentric weirdo’s house on the bayou.
All in all the evening was a mesmerizing melange of everything beautiful that can happen at a rock n’ roll show when things fall into place. If rock music is the gospel of sinners, then Phosphorescent and Caveman know how to preach it. Amen.
Phosphorescent live in Atlanta 1/25/14 Youtube playlist – (“(Intro) Sun Arise”, “Ride On, Right On”, “Song For Zula”, “Quotidian Beasts”, “Tell Me Baby (Have You Had Enough)?”, “A New Anhedonia” and Caveman performing “Old Friend”:
Videos from Youtube user James Meadows
Amazing sets by both bands, you honestly can't ask for much more from a rock show.