The Phoenix Foundation


Words: Patti Aberhart

“We like you Bristol” Purrs Co-front man and guitarist Luke Buda as he smirks an almost shy childlike grin “We’ve heard you’re a pretty clean city, rocking the vegan hop…”

I’m not sure anyone entirely understood what he meant there, but with the added New Zealander twang they laugh anyway. In fact anything the kiwi sextet project (Thekla, 16th May), the crowd kneel down accordingly, and it’s not hard to understand why.

I’ve just arrived, pretty ‘stoked’, treated with a can of magners cider and equipped with a small note pad, which has proved entirely useless in the pitch-black surroundings of the Thekla. My worries are quickly subsided, as the boys waste no time commencing with strong opener ‘Black Mould’ that is featured as the opening track in their recently released 5th studio album ‘Fandango’.

“The spores in the walls well they get in my pores” hums a composed but slightly defrazzled lead singer Samuel Flynn Scott (most likely due to their wild London shenanigans’ the night before) Here we have a sea of flooding reverb stained guitar which is uplifted with a bouncing synth, and a cool composed vocal (but it could be louder)

It’s obvious there a few technical difficulties taking place as they’re are all looking round at each other mildly confused, but this is soon resolved and we are soon engaged with Buda’s charms as he entertains the crowd with a series of tree related jokes, obviously communicated between them during the traitorous long stretched journeys which ultimately pushed them to the heights of delirious minded thoughts; “What do you call a palm tree greeting?” Buda jokes. “A high five! …. Oh dear, I’m really regretting sharing that with you now” he winces.

They continue with big-chorused ‘Thames Soup’ another shiny penny from the new album, things are picking up now and as they relax so do the crowd. Upbeat and witty “A drop of blood is just enough to leave a strain on your shirt” spits Flynn, Some may argue the lyrical aspect of their songs perhaps aren’t their strongest strength but there is a certain quirk which I admire here.

It’s hard to pin down their sound. It seems they are attempting to master pop and modern rock along with strong psychedelic dominance all in one, it’s safe to say there’s lots going on here, It’s all so prolifically ambitious and with such variable tracks there’s always danger of disagreement, However saying that, there is a familiar consistency all the way through, In my experience there are few bands who can pull this off and with such originality, which ultimately has gained them respect over the years.

‘Corale’ shimmers under our feet and the cool blue light highlights Flynn-scott intimately (As Buda is hunched over his guitar looking like he’s enjoying sucking on a lemon). The feeling is atmospheric and psychedelic, it’s almost like witnessing a ‘jam session’ with Pink Floyd wearing their early seventies outfit. Elements of German experimental rockers Can are also evidently present alongside Arcade Fire just as we are interchanged into 2011’s single ‘Buffallo’ which sends the crowd into ecstatic frenzy.

‘Inside Me Dead’ (a personal favorite of mine) lowers the hype a little as we have this sudden dreamy Robert smith alike chorus toned guitar shimmering so delightfully into a feel good swirl of depression and bite your lip shut eye escapism. There’s raw emotion here and smooth velvet vocals trailing on like a sinister lullaby, which leaves you feeling the urge to raise your arms like some sort of crazed spiritual follower.

The Phoenix Foundation are refreshing and engaging performers, not fancy or trying too hard to trend, a group endeavoring to simply please and route themselves deep within our weary souls. With their down to earth nature and rare talents they’ve achieved legendary status back home, spread the word and help them to achieve further UK recognition on our side, these ‘bros’ deserve it.