6/19/15 – Brighton Music Hall

“So I just wanted to say Happy Valentine’s Day” joked Phox’s lead singer Monica Martin– the February show had been cancelled thanks to Boston’s most miserable winter month, but the band returned to serenade dozens of couples at Brighton Music Hall in June.

With stories aplenty and a sound that made us swoon, Friday night with Phox started off like a promising first date. But by the end, they left us wishing we hadn’t stayed for dessert.

It wasn’t because the show lasted two hours. Having first heard the Wisconsin-based act play as an opener, an extended set was welcome. Yet the honest, playful banter that made their last Boston gig a success transformed into a lack of professionalism this time around; after a while, the set became a flurry of false starts, restarts, and f-bombs.

Nevertheless, they kept their promise to play all their songs and gave the crowd permission to dip out. Or, as lead singer Monica Martin put it: “I know there’s a lot of smart-ass people in Boston so if you guys trickle out that’s cool too… if you have to go to MIT tomorrow and save some fucking lives, play on player, I’m into that. Do your thing.” As the night went on and more swigs were taken from Martin’s whiskey-filled water bottle (and eventually the Jameson bottle itself), most of the crowd had edged out of the venue’s big red doors. Something tells us it wasn’t because they “had lives to save.”

That’s not to say there wasn’t many a heartwarming moment. The whole room sang the chorus of “1936,” and some of the band jokingly bowed down in a “we’re not worthy” manner, noting that it was the first time they couldn’t hear themselves sing. There were the times when Jason Krunnfusz voice somehow skyrocketed to match Martin’s, or when guitar/trumpet player Matt Holeman whipped out a blue toy xylophone and dramatically tapped out a few notes, a goofy grin spread across his face. Martin not only brought up Joel of Mechanical River for a duet, but had also introduced the opening act before they went on– a pretty respectable move for any headliner.

Martin told us stories (she found herself with a ticket to a Paul McCartney performance in a 1,400 capacity venue the night of the cancelled Boston show) and sent out ripples of laughter: “I’m not here to lie to you! If anyone thinks my face actually looks like this, like, please report to the nearest Sephora. Because this is a lie!”

She treated us to a brand new song that had a feel of “The Moon Song” from the movie, “Her”; “Thank you for spending Valentine’s Day with us. I want to show you this new song I’ve been working on… I’ve only showed five people and then you guys. It’s not finished, it’s not cute, I just thought it would be a cool thing to do together.”

The band came together to sing a slower, acoustic version of “Evil” into one mic – a rendition that would have surely warmed our bones had it truly been Valentine’s Day in this February’s winter – but the cozy mood was disrupted as Martin threw in “Piece of shit!” and “Bitch!” into the song. (Granted, they were probably deserved, but still.) The crowd hollered and cheered on the band throughout the night, regardless of Martin’s sometimes uncomfortable antics.

As the show neared an end, Martin, Krunnfusz and Roberts, moved to the edge of the stage, an arms-reach from the audience. The trio began an impressive a-capella cover of Boom Forest’s “No Lion” but more whining and pouting from (a fairly intoxicated) Martin left her bandmates looking like parents trying to calm a distressed child with a lullaby. On closer, “Espeon,” Martin’s frustrated shrieks startled the crowd, leaving us confused about what went wrong.

The band claimed the night was one to remember (and let’s hope Martin does). But next time, perhaps it’d be best to treat the show more like an intimate living room set, rather than band practice in a garage.

Valentine’s Day in June: Phox
PROS
  • Played all of their songs
  • Impressive musicianship
CONS
  • Too many sips from the whiskey bottle
  • A number of false starts
  • Sometimes lacking professionalism
6.8Broken Hearts

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