Wisconsin-native band PHOX graced the Turner Hall Ballroom stage last Tuesday with their Bon Iver-esque unique folk/indie pop ditties, opening up for the country/folk band Blitzen Trapper. The seven-piece band hails from Baraboo. Being in Milwaukee made them all feel welcome, as lead singer Monica Martin kept repeating throughout their set. Incredibly grateful for the turnout of the crowd, she thanked everyone countless times with her bubbly yet shy personality. One concert-goer even whispered to me, “We’ve found it! The cutest thing is right here!”
Once the band appeared on stage, the guitarist/trumpeter could be seen clad in a salmon colored tuxedo while the banjo player was wearing a “The Cosby Show” sweatshirt. Monica was wearing a dress with Packer colors in a striped pattern, making sure to point it out during her set. Of course, this received lots of cheers from the crowd being in Packer territory. From their wardrobe alone, it was easy to see that the band is easygoing–all about having fun and being quirky.
This vibe on stage spilled into the crowd, as many, including myself, were bopping their heads to the beat. The band started off with one of their better known songs, “Evil.” Immediately, the intricate harmonies could be heard. Eventually, they progressed mid-set to their best known (and my personal favorite) song, “Slow Motion.” The song encouraged the crowd to engage in a round of fast claps during the chorus mimicking the studio recording’s use of the cup game (aka “Cups” from Pitch Perfect). After a solid 45 minutes of music making, the band closed out their set with one of their slower songs, “Noble Heart” complete with a trumpet solo mid-song and a triumphant ending with the trumpet as well.
Prior to the show, the band had played countless shows around the area like Summerfest in Milwaukee, and Live on King Street in Madison. This summer though, they were given the opportunity to fill in for a band at Lollapalooza in Chicago. And the pinnacle of the summer was opening up for The Lumineers at the iTunes Festival in London this past September. Needless to say, the band really has progressed immensely since their beginning. Monica said it best when thanking the crowd, “I had no idea we would be where we are today, because otherwise I’d probably be sitting on a couch, smoking pot and playing Tetris.”
Being able to see this band in a venue setting was definitely worthwhile. I originally discovered them this summer when they performed at Summerfest during a daytime slot. Summerfest was very different experience. The indoor venue setting at Turner was more intimate and low-key, which is definitely preferable for their type of music. Unfortunately they opened the both times that I saw them, so the set was smaller. However, it was still a pleasure to see them again. I am interested in seeing how the band grows over time to, hopefully, one day becoming a headliner band.
If you missed your chance to see them this time around, do not worry! PHOX will be opening for Trampled By Turtles on New Years’ Eve at the Riverside Theater. Get tickets now and do not miss this one, because afterwards they are heading back into the studio to record!