Phosphorescent Were (Mostly) Luminescent At Last Night’s 930 Club Show

Phosphorescent1

Photos with a Leica C.

Neither snow nor cold nor gloom of night could prevent Matt Houck from bringing Phosphorescent to D.C. last evening, and the show was variously amazing and slightly off-putting.  Just like Phosphorescent’s breakthrough album, Muchacho.

Muchacho missed the 2013 Tulip Frenzy Top 10 List (c) by a very narrow margin… imagine our thought process, as we visualized the last-second long shot from center court… arcing… and just clanking off the rim.  We loved “Song For Zula,” thinking that if someone dubbed Dylan in on vocals and told us it was an outtake from Time Out Of Mind, we would have believed it.  And “The Quotidian Beasts,” which they began with last night, is one of the best songs of recent years.  But the whole package left us a little desirous of a strong producer telling Houck that he needed to sustain the large band sound across the album’s entirety, not have it so split between what he did with others and what he did mostly by himself.

Phosphorescent2

And so it was last night.  When the full band played — organ and piano, a lead guitarist and pedal steel player, bass, drums, and a second percussionist, along with Houck on guitar — it was transcendent, a band with the sonic equipoise of Wilco, or Dylan’s posse.  And when Houck allowed them to take a break, and proceeded to play for 30 minutes all by his’self, well, it was like the heat escaping from a punctured balloon… everything came down quick.

Still, when you think about what Houck has done — in the span of a few years, he’s released a tribute to Willie Nelson that today ranks as our favorite country album of the last decade; put out an album — Here’s To Taking It Easy — that is as soulful of a conglomeration of great American songwriting as has come our way since Alejandro Escovedo first burst upon the scene; and in Muchacho, which we will call the 11th best album of last year, released a cross-over album that appeals to anyone who loves fine American songwriting — our hat goes off to him.  This is Alabama country — Muscle Shoals, Alabama country — as filtered through the Brooklyn bar scene and plugged into the second side of Exile On Main Street, or maybe Gram Parson’s GP.

The band was amazing.  The songs are great.  We found Houck to be an amiable presence in fine voice.  We wish he had a coach who could help him with seemingly little things — the pacing of his albums, his sets.  Anytime he wants to play a full set with his great band, we’ll gladly show.  No matter how cold it is.

One Response to “Phosphorescent Were (Mostly) Luminescent At Last Night’s 930 Club Show”

  1. […] there has always been a bit too much self-indulgent filler.   We were lucky enough to see Phosphorescent live last January, and not only does this record capture the brilliance of songs like “The Quotidian […]

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