I have decided to take advantage of the free concerts around town all summer-long, like those presented by the upscale shopping mall the Grove every Wednesday. This week, their summer concert series featured Phases and Atlas Genius.
Phases was a synth electro pop quartet, fronted by another cute blonde, you may think… but this frontgirl – her name is Z Berg – had effervescence and character, and there certainly was a bit of classic rock in her moves — think Debbie Harry, with a modern twist as if she was a sexier Taylor Swift. Their dynamism on stage was real, bringing up deep beats and lots of synths, a few cool dance floors like ‘Vertigo’, ‘Cooler’, which made everyone in the crowd move. Z Berg did the split during her aerobic moves, she kneeled down a few times, jumped in the crowd and appropriately used all the charms of her sexy physique combined with her Olivia-Newton-John high-pitched vocals.
Phases are not really new, they had previously performed under the moniker JJAMZ, but they have now a new name and have worked on new material to release their debut album on Warner Brothers Records this fall. Beside Z Berg (who used to be in the band The Like) the quartet consists of songwriter Michael Runion, Jason Boesel, who used to play in Bright Eyes and Rilo Kiley, and Alex Greenwald who used to play in Phantom Planet, so they could be the next indie super group. It was a sexy and poppy set, dominated by Berg’s strong stage presence, and they seemed determined to produce this summer anthem any band can dream about, and they may have it with ‘I am in love with my life’, a funky disco for which they recently made a video where Jessica Alba even sings along. Too much sexiness at once.
I had already seen Atlas Genius a few weeks ago, during Make Music Pasadena, and once again, their frontman was the rock star of the night, The Australian-born brothers Keith and Michael Jeffery rocked hard and loud, in full force, with rock star allures, arms in the air à la Springsteen, and their muscular performance was a win for the crowd. The music is basically electro pop, played with the high energy of a rock show, a touch of R&B in the vocals, heavy hooks in the guitars and synths, and a lot of participation from the crowd.
They played their first single ‘Trojans’, which lead to a record deal with Warner Brothers Records and the success of their debut album ‘When It Was Now’ – it reached number 34 on the US Billboard 200 charts in 2013 – and now, with a second album ‘Inanimate Objects’, and more hits like ‘Molecules’ they are basically in great shape for success. They once again played their Tears for Fears’ cover ‘Everybody Wants to Rule The World’, and if it was a relatively short set with no encore and a curfew, they gave to the people in the crowd what they wanted: a few EDM-style built ups mixed with electro hooks and the right moves on stage. Even during a quieter number like ‘Balladino’, Frontman Keith Jeffery commanded the stage, with confidence and presence, and of course, it’s never very difficult to imagine what good looks combined with swagger can do on a crowd of teenager girls. I have seen them twice in relatively small settings, I just predict I will never have this opportunity again, they are already headlining shows and they are certainly arena-ready.
still on top
“danceable music for the end of days”
contracts its world in Nashisms
let’s take what we are offered
It’s the music, stupid
a restless and fearless freak show
Eminem and Calvin couldn’t move Bey
summer’s entertainment is rewarded