music // phases at webster hall

 

You may have heard of JJAMZ, an all-star band composed of Jason Boesel (Rilo Kiley), James Valentine (Maroon 5), Alex Greenwald (Phantom Planet, Mark Ronson & TBI), Michael Runion and Z Berg (The Like). I saw them live at Studio at Webster Hall back in 2012, which is a night I'll never forget because I got to meet both Alex Greenwald (swoon) and Z Berg (also swoon). I got Alex to sign my super rare Phantom Planet concert DVD, to which he reacted by asking "Where did you get this?" Let's just say Amazon's long tail exists for a reason.

Anyway, by now you're probably wondering why I'm going on about JJAMZ, when the title of this post implies I should be writing about Phases. Well, check out this equation: Phases = JJAMZ - James Valentine. This probably sounds mean, but I don't miss James in the band because I don't like Maroon 5 anyway (harsh, I know). Phases became official back in June, and despite being very new, they already have a few songs and two music videos out. I hadn't looked into the new music too much, but I liked JJAMZ enough, so when they announced they were having a gig at the Studio again, I didn't think twice before buying tickets.

After a rushed dinner consisting in leftover vegetable couscous wraps (for some reason couscous is always even tastier a few days after it's been made), Olympe and I jump on an express train to Union Square. And after a little freak-out over the fact I left the tickets at home, we manage to get in using the e-tickets I magically find in the depths of my inbox (three cheers for technology). We've arrived at 8pm, which is when the show is supposed to start, but I know it won't actually begin for at least another hour. One can never be sure, though - you're better safe than sorry when it comes to concerts. Plus, if we'd arrive later, we wouldn't have been able to: 1) use the bathroom next to Z Berg doing her makeup. 2) see Tennessee Thomas walk in to support her musician buddies.

Soon enough, Z Berg hops on stage wearing an adorable polka-dotted dress. She explains, in her own casual, unfiltered way, that Phases' opening act has bailed on them with only a day's notice. Being the supernatural creature that she is, Z has decided to replace them with a set of acoustic covers (at least, I think they are covers - I'm not familiar with any of them). The half a dozen tunes she plays transport the crowd to some distant planet. There's no other way to put it: Z is a goddess. From her slightly husky voice to her sensual dancing and simultaneously cute and borderline trashy outfits, there's everything to love. Next to me, Olympe gushes about her beautiful voice.



Z exits the stage and there's a half-hour break before JJAMZ - I mean, Phases - begins to play. During this time, I spot Alex Greenwald getting a drink. What a babe. It seems he's only getting younger, even though he's aged seven years since the first time I saw him live (Phantom Planet was opening for Paramore on their 2008 Riot tour).

The full band makes its appearance, and the crowd immediately starts to dance to their upbeat sound. Z's changed her outfit, and now sports an incredibly risqué jumpsuit that everyone's deeply concerned about (but rest assured, the nipple malfunction never occured!). The set is rather enjoyable, though I feel the band has somewhat lost its edge. While it does embody an array of perfectly acceptable dance songs, Phases' new music lacks the vulnerability and complexity I found in JJAMZ. The real standout, though, is the brilliant "I'm in Love with my Life", which reminds me of Justice's "D.A.N.C.E". The perfect summer tune (video below).



Verdict: Phases are still fine performers who know how to put on a fun show, but their new music leaves much to be desired.

(Alex, I'll always love you, no matter what kind of music you make.)



 

 

One last shot of Alex, just for the road:

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