Phoenix Festival D'Été de Québec, Quebec City, July 12

Phoenix Festival D'Été de Québec, Quebec City, July 12
Photo: Renaud Phillipe
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France's danceable indie rock darlings Phoenix took to the Bell Stage Thursday night, facing the sunset and a still sparse crowd on the massive outdoor festival grounds.
 
The band started off a little stiff and buttoned-up, with frontman Thomas Mars unenthusiastically bouncing about the stage, but by the second song ("Lasso"), he hopped down to the stage's lower riser and was bantering with the largely Francophone crowd in his native tongue.
 
The energy continued to build with swinging mics and high kicks throughout "Entertainment," from 2013's Bankrupt!, but fell again during should-have-been highlight "Lisztomania," when Mars relied a bit too heavily on sing-alongs from an unprepared audience. "Trying to Be Cool" was then plagued by booming bass levels that left some people in the crowd covering their ears for respite. Needless to say, the vocals and any sense of melody were unfortunately drowned out.
 
As resilient as the band name implies, though, Phoenix managed to recover with a spirited clap-along to "Girlfriend" and a trek, by Mars, through the still-growing crowd during "Armistice."
 
Oldie "If I Ever Feel Better" proved especially exciting, and saw the band at their most fun, in formation in a row at the very front of the stage — swapping guitar solos, implementing robotic vocal effects and literally loosening up by unbuttoning their shirts.
 
"Rome," "Fior Di Latte" and "1901" closed out the set, confirming that nearly ten years on, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix remains the group's strongest release. And while Phoenix may not have captured that same magic in the studio with their last couple LPs, Mars continues to be as charming and affable a rock star as ever, ending the show by walking through the crowd once more, repeatedly uttering "Merci" to his fans.