There was no other place I would have wanted to be last Thursday evening than at one of this summer’s fantastic outdoor concert hurrahs. The immensely anticipated Summer Odyssey Tour featuring Beck and Phoenix co-headlining the stage across the United States made its way to Chicago’s Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island and to quickly recap the spectacle in three words: it was epic. You could feel that special late summer air feeling; as this was likely one of the last truly warm days before the crisp autumn breeze creeps in. The turnout was as expected; what seemed like long term ride-or-die fans of Beck mixed with the indie head at heart hipsters that still gush over the golden age of alternative rock during the early 2010s (myself included). I knew that just by the stage setup that hadn’t even been lit up yet that this was going to be a stately performance.
I somehow made it this far in life missing out on Phoenix shows left and right but I finally made my way to one and it was everything I would have imagined it to be and more. The serotinal sun began to set as Phoenix made their way onto the massive stage setup they had going on. I was instantly blown away when the intro melody to “Lisztomania” roared over the speakers and the stage lit up to reveal a majestic display of ancient columns and Greek statues that looked so realistic I had to clean my glasses to make sure they weren’t real. I also couldn’t help but notice how perfect lead singer Thomas Mars’ vocals were in relation to the band’s discography; damn near close but almost better in person.
After their sharp intro, the Pavilion rattled with their grand tune “Entertainment” followed by my personal favorite song of theirs, “Lasso.” Their performance of “Bankrupt!” was accompanied by a ’70s video called “Powers of Ten” that zooms out of our very own Chicago and into the depths of space and then back. It was a truly mesmerizing interlude for their set that gave me a slight existential crisis. Phoenix concluded their set with their classic sensation “1901,” which felt like the appropriate send-off song after such an incredible set. Mars made his way around the crowd after their set to get up close and personal with fans and then finally was elevated on top of the crowd for one last farewell.
I couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed and the night was not even over yet. Beck made his way on stage and the crowd went wild. Beck has been around since the early ’90s so to say that he is becoming a legacy act is an understatement. His genre-bending abilities are impressive; ranging from alternative rock, art pop and hip hop; it’s been interesting to see how his sound has shaped and morphed over the years.
Beck brought this diversity to Thursday night’s performance, opening with his rocky tune “Devils Haircut” and then extremely contrasted by the more hip-hop leaning song “Que’ Onda Guero.” “Girl” was a song that took me back to my days of listening to Pandora on the way to school and this song would always come on and being able to hear it live was a true full circle moment for me. I was even more impressed by their performance of “Wow” that presented some very breathtaking visuals accompanied by booming bass. Both Phoenix and Beck utilized the same eclectic stage setup but to their own respective aesthetics. It worked so well in looking like two completely different settings. Phoenix came back out at the end of Beck’s set to perform their latest project together, “Odyssey” (hence the tour name), which was met with a roaring approval.
Stage displays are probably one of my favorite things about live music, and this setup in particular was quite impressive. They used a clever technique with their stage, using a layered effect with their screens and setting them up in front of another to really create a three-dimensional illusion. It was a thrilling evening for Chicago having two legendary names in the alternative/rock music scene tour together. It’s something that more bands need to take note of because it made for a truly memorable night.
All photos by Andrew Lagunas.
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