LOS ANGELES, CA- When Phoenix lead singer Thomas Mars addressed the audience at the Hollywood Bowl with, “We’re very happy to be here. This is the best place in the world,” I’m fairly certain that each and every one of the fifteen thousand plus in attendance was feeling the same way. With a performance that not only consisted of spectacular stage production and a cadre of their most beloved hits, the performance emphasized the underlying themes of “love, desire, lust and innocence” embodied in the latest release, “Ti Amo”.

Phoenix at the Hollywood Bowl 6/15/17. Setlist.“Ti Amo”, released Jun 9th, 2017, is an album filled the kind of joyful glee that is pretty representative of the synth-pop sounds in “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” that vaulted the band to the global stage. While the audience may not have been all together familiar with the new music, Phoenix ensured that there was never a prolonged unfamiliar moment as they made sure that they followed a new composition with a, or a series of, bonafide hits from their repertoire.

The love theme of the The 80+ minute performance was evident right from the outset. From the lightless stage, before the band took the stage, a glowing, neon heart emanated from the kick-drum of Thomas Hedlund’s drum kit. That small, glowing stage decoration set the mood for the entirety of their performance, notifying everyone in attendance that love and acceptance would rule the evening’s musical affair.

If the decoration on the kick-drum was too subtle of a symbol to pick up on, it was surely noticeable later in the performance. As mentioned earlier, Phoenix’s stage production was visually captivating. Covering the stage floor with a huge LED screen, with a huge mirror behind them that reflected not only the band but also all the colorful images that were displayed at their feet, the audience’s eye always had come candy to feast on. Towards the later part of their performance, the band’s name was reflected on the hanging mirror, highlighted with a bright rainbow pattern, making it obvious that Phoenix’s music was music for lover of any and all persuasions.

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Mac DeMarco at the Hollywood Bowl 6/15/17. Setlist.One of the opening acts for Phoenix was Canadian singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco. Currently doing the rounds promoting his third studio album “This Old Dog”, DeMarco gave the Hollywood Bowl a performance that reminded everybody exactly why fans are drawn to him in the first place.

It’s his goofy and youthful demeanor, a perception that he fully embraces, combined with his laid-back garage rock tunes, that gave the Hollywood Bowl a very summery vibe and had people smiling ear to ear while they were picnicking in the seats. When he performed a cover of Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Mile”, I couldn’t help turn my smile into an audible laugh.

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The Lemon Twigs at the Hollywood Bowl 6/15/17. Setlist.Though The Lemon Twigs had a short set as the first performance of the day, they made the most of their first appearance at the Hollywood Bowl. Having been introduced to this band earlier this year at SXSW, I can say that I’m a huge fan of these kid’s brand of progressive/art rock. With their music and fashions heavily influenced by 70s, and even covering a 1970s Ronnie Wood track during their set, some may want to pigeon hole them as “retro-rock”. If you are ever afforded a chance to see this up and coming band play, please do me a favor and brush aside those comparisons and listen to them with open ears. The Lemon Twigs are something wholly unique, and will, in my humble opinion, be innovating music for years to come. I have a feeling they’ll be back at The Bowl soon enough.

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