A Late Night with Phox at Mercury LoungeJuly 24th, 2014
Phox – Mercury Lounge – July 23, 2014
Mercury Lounge filled up quickly last night for electric rockers Trails and Ways, out of Oakland, Calif., and the Wisconsin folk-pop outfit Phox. Trails and Ways, up first, are four friends who self-identify as a bossa nova dream-pop act. They played from their debut EP, Trilingual, including the effervescent tune “Nunca,” and shared a few new songs.
Clearly giddy to be playing in New York City, Phox’s six members took their posts on the tiny stage and launched right into a material from their self-titled debut album. The band’s size doesn’t faze them one bit. Their onstage chemistry is due in part to the fact that they grew up together, attending the same high school in a very small town. So what could easily be a tumble of clumsy fingers on instruments is instead a web of warm harmonies, clever strings, quiet keys, bold beats and even the occasional trumpet. Suffice it to say, there is an undeniable kinship here. Singer Monica Martin’s airy, lilting vocals were front and center, and her fellow bandmates took turns playing sparkling solos.
“Noble Heart,” “Kingfisher” and “Slow Motion” showcased Phox’s flare for sneakily swelling harmonies. Anecdotes from Martin—whose idiosyncrasies are downright charming—peppered the set. The band brought up a friend, John Cameron Mitchell, who sang a gorgeous rendition of “Why Try to Change Me Now” (made popular by Frank Sinatra) with Martin as the two sipped martinis. Although the show ran late and the crowd trickled out around 1 a.m., it was well worth burning the midnight oil to see two truly talented teams of musicians work their magic. As far as live performances go, Phox and Trails & Ways are the cream of the crop. —Schuyler Rooth